Friday, May 18, 2012

 Exploring the Local Zoo

We continued to explore photography at the local zoo.  We went to Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend to take pictures of the animals and their zoo habitat.  It was an enjoyable to see the animals and walk through the zoo since it has been years since I have gone there.  After the trip we created dioramas and pictures of an animal of our choice.  We were encouraged to think of a unique way to represent personally our view of the animal and its habitat.  I decided to draw a picture of the swans and the pond area.  I colored everything in and then added real feathers to the swans and a rock textured paper to some of the rocks and artificial leaves to some of the trees.  It made certain things stand out and gave it a unique edge.  I think this would be a great activity to do for younger students.  After all the dioramas are finished the students could create on poster paper a large zoo map based on what they remember.  This would be a great way to tie in mapping content from social studies.  Then they could all place their dioramas in the correct place and go on a zoo diorama field trip.  Students could then write a written reflection based on what they learned about their chosen animal or other aspects of the zoo.  This could also be a great foundation for a teacher doing a unit on animals or the zoo.  It also is a great place to do some photography with students.  Students could also connect a zoo visit with certain children’s books and poems.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ALL About Me Project

Last semester and carrying over to this semester our class did an “All About Me” PowerPoint project about who we are and where we come from.  It has been enjoyable to find out a little more about the people I work with in class.  Our project criteria was:

·      Name and where it comes from
·      Names of your close family and a little information about each member
·      A special person in your life
·      A special event in your life that impacted you
·      Three random facts other may not know about you
·      A quote that describes you and your life
·      Pictures included throughout the PowerPoint
·      Anything else you want to add

I had a lot of fun creating my PowerPoint, but I do not enjoy talking about myself so the presentation part was not my favorite.  The project gives everyone a sense of: who you are, your unique qualities and personality, and how you are similar to others.  I found out some interesting information about my peers, and I think it helped create an even stronger class community.  This would be a great way to help build a classroom community, to get to know students, and to build pride in the uniqueness of each person.  It can easily be connected to literacy.  The presentation is part of the speaking area of literacy.  While others present their project it chances to the listening area of literacy.  You could have students write further questions to one another, or a small paragraph about another person in the class.  The presentation could be connected to a short paper requirement further detailing your project for the teacher and others.  There are numerous possibilities.  You could even fine-tune the PowerPoint requirements adding other areas of interest or making a poster to hang in the class instead of a PowerPoint.  I hope to use something similar in my classroom at the start of the school year to get to know them, for them to learn about one another, and to begin building a classroom community.  

Below is a link to student of the week ideas that are similar to the "All About Me" idea.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shoebox Activity

     What if you had to leave your home and could only take with you items that filled a shoebox?  What would you take?  This question invokes cannot be an easy one to answer.  At least for me it was not.  I decided for my shoebox I would fill it with as many of my pictures as I could.  For me my pictures are everything.  They hold so many stories and memories many that I do not remember because they were before I was born or because I was too young.  Others I do not remember until I see the picture of the event and it brings back a whole set of memories and stories.  If I had to leave my home I would take my pictures.  They tell parts of my life and my family’s life and show my family over time.  I have other items I would like to save, but these are the most important.  This activity brought a lot of different items into the classroom because everyone values different things.  Some similarities were present, but everyone had different items.  One thing was certain we all have personal items we value because of the sentimental value and memories attached to them.  This activity provokes emotions.  It also could easily be connected to historical events where people were limited to what they could save and take with them.  In times of war, migration, and natural disaster all of these types of events can be connected to the shoebox activity.  Students can then write about or give a speech about their own items, how a specific type of event might affect them, and how others in similar situations may feel.  The writing topics are endless with this kind of activity.  Students can also write about other people’s items that they decide are important to them.  Students can read about events that caused people to make hard choices on what to save and about people who lost everything.  This kind of activity can be used at many different levels depending on the event it is connected to.  I hope at some point I can use this during my teaching to help my student learn about others and their situations, to help them learn about themselves, and to help me learn about what is important to my students.

Creative ideas at this blog:
The blog link below has creative ideas on immigration which can be connected to the shoebox activity:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Classroom Trading Post

Last week in class we had a trade fair.  Everyone brought in something to trade; many of the items were homemade.  Some people brought in multiple items while others only brought in one item.  I only brought in one item, which I made from duct tape.  I made a lime green and paint blotted tote bag.  A picture of the one I made is below.  I traded for two bags of homemade cookies and scones.  It was a fun activity that showed us how to actively teach economic concepts to young students.  In a classroom you would need to set rules and possibly have the students create their own trade item at school to keep things leveled.  You would then conduct the trade fair and oversee the students’ interactions.  Afterward, students could have a discussion about the trade fair, why they think certain items were more popular, what that means in the real economy, how other trade economies work, and if they have ever witnessed one.  The teacher could provide other examples from around the world and help students compare it to our country’s economy.  The depth of the discussion and learning depends upon the grade level.  The teacher could assess students’ knowledge by having them write in their journal about their experiences or extend the discussion questions.  They could also create a graphic organizer to fill out based on questions provided by the teacher.  There are many ways to connect literacy with this activity based on the grade level.  Below are pictures of the trade fair items we had and pictures of us active in the trade fair process.

Resources about teaching economics:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Artifacts Class Project

The assignment was to bring in five items that define you as a person culturally.  Everyone from the class had to go home and find five items that represent them.  Everyone’s five items were different while some similarities also appeared.  My list of five included: my iPod, a book, a New York Yankees t-shirt, my coffee mug, and post-it notes.  Each item had a specific meaning behind it.  The post-it notes represented my extreme use of them, the fact that I am very organized, and the busy lives people have in today’s world.  My iPod represents my love of technology, my constant use of it, and how much as a culture we depend on it.  My New York Yankees t-shirt represents how important sports are to many people and how much we value sports in our culture.  My coffee mug represents my need of coffee in the mornings and the role coffee has in our culture especially Starbucks.  The book represents my enjoyment of reading and learning. 
Many artifacts were similar among the group.  Many people had iPods or iPhones on the table, a lot of books were brought in, and a few items on the table showed the importance of sports and enjoyment of outdoor activities.  Many other connections can be made through the items from person to person.  It shows that many of us have similar interests and define our culture in similar ways.  We all have some differences as well as commonalities.  This was a fun and interesting activity.  We learned a lot about one another, our culture, and ourselves.  This could easily turn into a writing activity about your items or what it says about the culture.  You could turn this into an oral activity by having students talk in groups about their items and their discoveries.  Students could form questions and predictions about a certain item they find interest in.  There are many different Language Arts activities you could incorporate within this Social Studies activity.

Here are two blog links I found related to the idea of creating interactive Social Studies activities and lessons for students:

Found some interesting ideas here!  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Photography In
The Classroom

Last semester and this semester we have used photographs and photography to learn about Social Studies.  Last semester a group used photographs to map out an area like the campus or the layout of the Greenlawn.  Another group used photographs to realize scale and size by taking pictures and redrawing our pictures related to the actual difference in sizes.  Each group got a different topic in Social Studies to use with photography.   Photography can be easily used in Social Studies in a number of ways, and can easily connect to what students know because they can be the ones taking photographs.  They can gather information on a field trip or outdoor exploration by taking pictures that can be taken back to class.  Students can document changes over time like with their appearance, the seasons, and so on.  Photographs can be used to spark discussion on a given topic, and they can give a glimpse into students’ lives and families.  You can use photographs to encourage prediction, observation, and hypothesizing.  Young children who cannot yet read are able to view and understand a photograph, so there are no age restrictions with using photographs or photography. 

Here are a few links to spark further ideas with the use of photography:



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Games Around The World! 

During the beginning of last semester the entire class did a class activity titled “Games Around the World.”  We all divided up into different groups, and researched games from a chosen country to bring to class and share.  Every group had something fun and unique to share, and we all learned a lot about different countries through their games.  We all played the games each group brought.  Some of the games were for outside the classroom while others were played in the classroom.  Games are a universal thing, and something that can connect us despite differences.  It was fun to take background knowledge of the games we played growing up, and apply it to the new and similar games from other parts of the world.  Many games had similarities with one another and even to games children in the United States play.  It highlights the commonalities between different cultures, and the different ideas that can turn our regular “tag” into something new and exciting.  In the picture above our group is listening to the directions for a type of tag game that we played on campus.  This was a unique and fun way to learn about social studies and apply it in a way we could relate.

Here is a link to a “Games Around the World” website: