We love MLK!

Positive and Negative Space MLK and I Have a Dream wall.  Love!
Positive and Negative Space MLK and I Have a Dream wall. Love!

Happy Black History Month Everyone!

This post is to share the wonderful and easy project my students do for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I found this awesome post while searching Pinterest (Follow me!) one day.

Awesome post with template included!
Awesome post with template included!

My only tip is to make a sample prior to the lesson. Sometimes I think I can model an art project for the first time in front of the class, but not this one.   This one has a couple of tricky areas so be sure to complete it first so you’ll better be able to help your students. They need to follow these directions exactly. I think the end products are so cool, even the ones that were done “wrong”.

MLK wall of art and dreams...
MLK wall of art and dreams…

The other project is the “I Have a Dream” picture project. I basically run off copies of three thought bubbles. One bubble says…”For my school”, the other says…”For my community”, and the last bubble says…”For my world”. After we have a discussion and brainstorm some quality ideas, the students write their dreams on a piece of paper. Once I look that over and proofread it, they get permission to write on the thought bubbles (final draft). A couple days before we complete and assemble this project, I take a picture of each student holding a MLK picture looking up to the sky. I know! It’s so cheesy, but they turn out hilarious. I think the kids secretly like when I do these cheesy photo projects, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Once the pictures are developed, the students assemble them quickly and “Voila!”, an awesome project is complete.

I Have a Dream photo project-super easy
I Have a Dream photo project-super easy
I Have a Dream easy project
I Have a Dream easy project

Finally, my students all memorized a portion of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech. I was a little nervous with the complexity of the speech, but my students killed it! Truly a job well done for all of them–so impressed. After all the students finished, we watched the actual footage from The March on Washington. The kids were so into it, and saying the words right along with Dr. King!

Awesome.

Tribute to MLK
Tribute to MLK

Mapmaker, Mapmaker…Make Me a Map!

This is one of my favorite units….time to study early explorers!  I tried this activity last year and the kids loved it, and I definitely loved watching the results.

To kick of this unit of early explorers, I have the students take on the Mapmaker Challenge. (Click to download document.)

Mapmaker Challenge activity to kick off our study of early explorers!  Students truly realize how difficult it is to make a map.
Mapmaker Challenge activity to kick off our study of early explorers! Students truly realize how difficult it is to make a map.

The students are put into groups and assigned a different destination. Each group is to start at our room and end up in a different place. The first day of this activity I go over the instructions carefully. (At this point, we have already had lessons on using map skills and map features.) Students are then given about 15-20 minutes to “explore” the campus—meaning they take their notebooks with them and record EVERYTHING around them, especially landmarks, how many footsteps they have traveled, and in what direction. (I use the compass on my smartphone to tell them which way is north.)

Students then head back to the classroom to begin sketching their map on graph paper. My partner teacher had each group create ONE map, but I have each student draw their map individually even though their data should be the same. They can also help each other in this “planning stage”. The students then complete their maps for homework.

Collection of some of the different maps my students created.
Collection of some of the different maps my students created.
One student's map: Voted most accurate of the campus
One student’s map: Voted most accurate of the campus

My objective for the lesson is to give the students a taste of what it must have been like to explore uncharted waters and territories and then record it accurately so others may follow your route. The students have such trouble creating an accurate map at a school they’ve been attending for years! It’s crazy!

The next day I collect the maps and select some, both good and bad, to try out during the day. Each team is given one map at a time. They are instructed to follow the map exactly and determine whether it’s accurate or not. This is where the fun starts! The kids are so excited to be let out of the classroom to follow the route. Tip: Be sure not to give students any map they made themselves. If you do, the student that made the map starts verbally explaining what their map says. This defeats the purpose. The students should be able to follow the route using the landmarks, legend, footstep count, etc.

I allowed each team to try more than one map because I wanted them to experience both good and bad. The conversations they were having were so interesting! They were very vocal with which maps were accurate and those that had some issues.

Mapmaker Challenge: Studying the map to figure out where to begin.
Mapmaker Challenge: Studying the map to figure out where to begin.
Getting ready for the map challenge!  Did the map work?
Getting ready for the map challenge! Did the map work?
Mapmaker Challenge:  Did this map work?
Mapmaker Challenge: Did this map work?
Mapmaker Challenge:  This way guys!
Mapmaker Challenge: This way guys!

Upon returning to the classroom, the students were bursting to share their thoughts. I told them they were NOT allowed to speak for 5 minutes and instead had to open up their journals and write about what just happened. After they wrote in their journals, we had a very lively discussion.

I just love this lesson because I can keep referring back to their “mapping” troubles while we learn about obstacles the explorers faced.

Native Americans, Dreamcatchers and Inferencing

It's finished-- Our Native American Region tab books complete with dreamcatchers!
It’s finished– Our Native American Region tab books complete with dreamcatchers!
Created this book to attack skills of drawing conclusions, main idea and details for each lesson of Chapter 2.
Created this book to attack skills of drawing conclusions, main idea and details for each lesson of Chapter 2.

This year my partner teacher and I are really striving to pull the essential questions and desired comprehension skills we want students to achieve BEFORE we plan the unit or chapter.  Chapter 2 of our social studies book is Native Americans and the different regions in the U.S.  The big idea is that people need to use their environment to survive and that affects their lifestyle.  Our HM comprehension skill for the week was also “drawing conclusions”.  This is what we came up with.  (It turned out well.  Next year, I would make only a few minor adjustments.)

We had the students make a tab book for Lessons 1-4.  Next year, I would include one for Lesson 5 “The Arctic”, but to be honest I ran out of time.  I used the last page as their quiz/assessment.  It’s designated with question marks.   Each page has the same 4 quadrant grid with geography, climate, natural resources, and effects.  (I actually already changed the “effects” to daily lifestyle because I believe it fits better and makes more sense to the students.  They need to gather all information before they can make any sort of reasonable conclusion.)  This helps in the reading instruction because I can focus on pulling only the main idea and important facts/details for each section of the grid.

I used the book as a resource along with books from our school library and videos from discovery education (about 15 min. long per region.)  The first two lessons we completed as a class.  The next one was completed with partners and the final grid was completed individually to determine if the students could search their text for all the necessary information. We color coded each tab to match the region of the map on the front cover.    IMG_6723

Used the same 4 quadrant grid for each lesson--geography, climate, natural resources, and effects.
Used the same 4 quadrant grid for each lesson–geography, climate, natural resources, and effects.
Changed the last quadrant to daily life after reflecting upon the lesson.  Think it fits better.  The last page dealt with drawing conclusions from what we learned.
Changed the last quadrant to daily life after reflecting upon the lesson. Think it fits better. The last page dealt with drawing conclusions from what we learned.

IMG_6722

The last page has 3 questions that students will not be able to find the answers directly in the text.  They must use evidence from the text to support their conclusions, but have to come up with their own answers from everything we had learned and discussed in the past weeks.  From the assessments, I have a very good idea of where my instruction needs to go next…which is a good thing.

This was the assessment used to determine if the students could draw reasonable conclusions from reading the text and use those details and facts to support conclusions made.  It was very interesting.
This was the assessment used to determine if the students could draw reasonable conclusions from reading the text and use those details and facts to support conclusions made. It was very interesting.

And finally, after all this gathering of information, we felt the students were missing some of the beautiful, cultural aspects of these people so we had the students read myths and legends during our language arts instruction in reading groups AND make their own dreamcatchers.  I found simple instructions online and materials needed were: paint, paper plates, yarn, and feathers.  The students loved it!  I had them paint the plates Friday morning so by the afternoon, we could decorate.  We read a short passage on dreamcatchers before we began and played some tribal flute music during the rest of the lesson.

I’ll add pictures of my finished board later…forgot to snap it before I left.  Click here for the entire document-Native American Tab Book

Not nearly finished board, but looking good nonetheless.
Not nearly finished board, but looking good nonetheless.
Dreamcatchers going up on display!  Love them!
Dreamcatchers going up on display! Love them!

IMG_6729 IMG_6728

Painting dreamcatchers!
Painting dreamcatchers!
Painting dreamcatchers!
Painting dreamcatchers!