Thursday, November 19, 2015

History of the Holidays

I don't know about you.....But I'm READY for the holiday break!!  My junior high kids....Even MORE ready!  I think we will all look like this on Friday...

So, what I'd like to share with you are some ideas of what you can do those days before holiday breaks when your kids are READY to walk out the door before you on Friday!

I'm guilty of trying to "cram" in that last lesson and trying to wrap up a unit before we leave for a break.  Sometimes my planning is perfect and the planets align and I'm actually able to pull it off...But that's usually not the case.

So, what I've started to do for the past few years are some fun "History of..." activities of the holidays before that particular holiday.  My students LOVE it!  They are activities that engage my students at a time when they are "antsy" and ready for a break!  I try to include reading/writing/technology/videos to keep them fully engaged.  Depending on the activity, I may just do it on the Friday before we break, or perhaps Thursday and Friday.  It depends on the year and the class!  I have quite a few holiday related activities I do throughout the year, click HERE to see them in my store!

Tomorrow, I'll be doing one of my favorite activities with my students where we delve into a brief history of Thanksgiving and a history of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US.  Click the image below to see this activity in my store:

My students really get into this activity and it's a great way to end the week!  I want to also share with you some other websites that have some great ideas for sharing the History of Thanksgiving:

What are some activities that you do around the holidays?  I'd love to hear!

Have a WONDERFUL and WELL-DESERVED holiday break!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

WebQuests and Writing in the History Classroom

Hi everyone!  Julia from History from the Middle here!  I wanted to share with you all how I incorporate elements of writing in my history class through the use of highly engaging WebQuest activities!

There are so many different ways for content areas to incorporate writing, and make it meaningful and engaging.  With the implementation of Common Core, students now, more than ever, must use evidence-based support within their writing.  This is such a natural element for history to incorporate, because most of what we write has to be based on historical evidence!

One of the ways that I do this, and my student's LOVE it, are through research-based WebQuest activities!  Depending on the topic, students may have to read a primary source to gain evidence, watch a video, examine an artifact....The possibilities are endless!

To show you what my student's do, I'm going to walk you through one of my student's FAVORITE WebQuest activities which is a CSI Investigation of Otzi the Iceman that I do with my Ancient Civilization students when we are in our Early Man unit.

Students start the activity by watching an introductory video on who Otzi was, and where he lived.  This helps to build the "suspense" of the investigation!  Next, students go through different pieces of research to help come to their own conclusions on what happened to Otzi and determine how he died.

For this activity, I created a Google Site and loaded all of the directions for the investigation step by step.  

Students then work with a fellow investigator and go through a series of research questions to help build their background knowledge on what may have happened to Otzi.  

Once students have researched the background information, and the possible 4 theories as to what happened to Otzi, they are then to write their final investigative report!

I am in a 1:1 school that uses GAFE (Google Apps for Education).  I personally run all of my assignments through Google Classroom (which I will do a separate post on!)  

I then go into Google Drive and create a Google Doc for students to write their final investigative report.  I then take that Doc and load it as an assignment in Google Classroom.  

One of the great benefits I like about having students work in Google Docs, is the collaboration piece.  While they are working, I'm able to go into their document and watch what they are doing, and make comments and give immediate feedback!

One of the things I love about using WebQuests to invoke the writing process is the natural flow of writing that occurs.  Students become so engaged in the topic and the process, that the writing just comes so naturally!  To see them using the evidence from the research in their writing is so EXCITING!  

From my experience, having students interact with the content in a way that evokes certain feelings/opinions/emotions allows them to access the writing process in a different way.  Even though I teach history, we are all still reading and writing teachers and we need to provide as many opportunities for our students to implement those standards outside of their language arts class.  I think that WebQuests are one of many ways to do that and get students excited about writing!

What are some interesting methods you use in your class to get students excited about writing?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Organization in a Middle School Classroom!

Hello everyone!  Julia from History from the Middle here with some tips and tricks on staying organized in a middle school classroom!

Here are some easy to do tips and tricks I use in my history class.  I teach 6 different sections of history, 3 7th grade and 3 8th grade.  The first thing I do, is organize all of my classes into "colors".  I then have colored containers that go with each period.  So, they know when they turn something in, to turn it into their period and their colored container.  I have these containers labeled on bookshelves in my classroom, so students can easily see them, and can turn in things at any time!

I also have easy to grab caddies for needed supplies.  Each caddie has glue sticks, markers, crayons and a stapler for students to use.  I also have containers with highlighters and dry erase markers when we need them in class!

I also organize each of my desks by numbering them.  Each seat number also has a specific job.  Set #1 is my Materials Manager.  They are in charge of getting supplies for their table mates.  Seat #2 get to choose a job.  I have several different class jobs that they can choose from such as class leader, secretary, tech helper, first aid, teacher/sub help.  Finally, seat #3 is my table leader.  This student will be the reporter for their table for various class discussions, or just the student to help organize their table as we work in collaborative groups.  Also, each table is a specific color that matches the color of their supplies caddy!

I also use my color coded organization on my student work display wall.  Each period is represented by the color-backing, and then I choose 15 from that class to display on the wall!  This has made a GREAT and EASY way for me to represent all 6 of my classes!

I'd love to hear what types of organization YOU use in your classroom!  Please share below!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Check out the Middle School Mob!

Hi everyone!  If you haven't heard, some AMAZING middle school teachers have teamed together to form a collaborative blog...The Middle School Mob!  I'm blogging today and sharing a little bit about myself and my LOVE of analyzing primary sources!  Click below and come check it out!

Middle School Mob

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Class Dojo in the Middle School Classroom

Do you use Class Dojo?  If not, what are you waiting for!  I've used Class Dojo in my middle school classroom for the past 3 years, and have had COUNTLESS success using it!  Here is how I use it in my classroom!

Class Dojo allows students to earn points and lose points according to the behaviors that you create.  In my classroom, the points that you earn allow you to me at certain levels.  I currently have 10 levels that I use...Here they are!

As students earn, and lose points, it will allow them to be at certain levels.  Students can move into and out of levels depending on their points that they earn and lose.  Once students earn enough points to achieve a new level, they then earn certain privileges.  Here are the privileges I have for each of my levels:

I tell my students that they have to keep track of their points and let me know once they've moved up a level. That way it's all in their hands!

I then hand them a Rewards Card that specifies what privilege they've earned!  They can use it at ANY point during the year!  I very easily just print these out on card stock and tell them to HANG ONTO IT because they only get ONE!  I do keep a list of each of my periods so that I can keep track of who has received what card.  Here are some examples of the Reward Cards that I hand out:

I also have a Student Store in my class where students can use their Dojo points to buy certain items.  Here is what my Class Store list looks like:

I've used my Class Dojo system in my middle school classroom for YEARS and my students have absolutely LOVED it!  

Do you use Class Dojo?  I'd love to hear your story!  Comment below, include your e mail address, and I'll choose ONE lucky winner to receive my Class Dojo Rewards Bundle to use in your class this year!

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Shark Week is HERE!

I'm teaming up with Luckyfrog's Lilipad for a SHARK WEEK link up!  I'm featuring a FUN and FREE activity in celebration!  Check it out!

This is such a great activity to look at Earth's oceans, and the creatures within them!

Happy Shark Week!  Be sure to check out all of the other freebies in the link up!!

Be sure to go the next blog in the hop, Learning is Something to Treasure , and grab your next FREEBIE!!