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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thinking Ahead... Table Points

Next year, I'd like to change up my behavior management strategies.  I've begun thinking about it so that I can gather some things from my classroom to take home as I plan.

I've been reading Building Literacy in Social Studies (see the picture below or click on the link).
  What does that have to do with behavior management, you ask?  Well, this book is not only rich with ideas on improving comprehension in Social Studies, but also includes some great ideas how to get small groups of students to work together in the most efficient manor.

This book calls it PODS (Performance Organizational Design System) rather than Table Points, but I think I will stick to calling them Table Points for now because students have background knowledge of that terminology from previous classrooms.

Each student within a table is assigned a number that corresponds to task they will have to complete during the learning block.  For example, all number ones are the group leaders.  The numbers are randomly assigned by handing out index cards with Social Studies terms written on one side and a number on the other.  For example, while studying the Civil War, there might be 5 cards that read "industrial," with a number 1 on the back 5 that read "agricultural," with a 2 on the back, and so on until you have enough to give each student a number within their table.

The teacher could ask all the number threes to collect materials for the group, or the number fours to summarize the information their group discussed during think-pair-share.  Since the numbers are constantly changing, no one knows the task for which they will be responsible.  This should help keep them on their toes and engaged!

Now on to the points.  The book assigns points to desired predetermined behaviors.  For example:
No absence: 5 points
1 absence: 3 points
Homework: 5 points
Materials: 5 points
On-task: 5 points
Assignment: 5 points
Behavior: 5 points

Bonus points are awarded for the following.  This helps compensate for missing homework or absences.
Sharing information

Points are tallied daily and weekly to help motivate students to do their best.  The book calls this "positive interdependence" (members of a group realize that each must contribute for the sake of others).

I love this idea.  The one thing I wanted to change was how the points are displayed.  Elementary students need visual representations of their effort to help motivate them.  So, I found some great ideas on Pinterest. 

First, this great idea for keeping track the points earned at the end of the day.  It puts the table's desired reward at the bottom of the strip on a sticky note, and the points are shown by moving a paperclip down the strip.  The group earns their reward once the clip makes it to the sticky note.

The next idea comes from Stephanie Moorman.  She uses algebra to have students calculate their table points.  What a great way to get some math in!

Whew!  What do you think?  Do you use anything similar to this?  I'd love to hear some ideas before I get started.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Close Reading in Social Studies

I've been reading a great book called Building Literacy in Social Studies: Strategies for Improving Comprehension and Critical Thinking by Donna Ogle, Ron Klemp, and Bill McBride.

In a section of the book called "Supporting Struggling Readers", the authors write that "The more students read on the same topic, the more likely they are to move from novice to expert ways of thinking.  Therefore, students need to be surrounded by more rather than less material on the topics being taught."  They go on to say that you need texts of three different levels: simple, instructional, and advanced.

This led me to think of a reading strategy called Close Reading.  If you're familiar with text complexity and Close Reading, you know it is a method for increasing reading comprehension.  Many teachers use it in the core subjects in addition to reading class.  The following graphic is a summary of the steps of Close Reading by Tracy Watanabe at her wwwatanabe blog.

On a recent trip to the Library of Congress (LOC) with my friend from One Teacher's Take, I picked up some great kid-friendly texts to support my Social Studies curriculum.  While reading the books together, we thought they would be perfect for some Close Reading!

Two books that would support students during our "5 Documents of Freedom" unit:

These two books would be an example of the "simple" level of texts.  It introduces and explains the concepts in simple text with many pictures to support all levels of readers.

What about the instructional and advanced levels?  Do you have any examples of texts that would work for a Close Reading for these levels?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Using the Library of Congress in Your Classroom

I recently took a trip to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and it was well worth the trip!  I went with my friend, Andrea, from One Teacher's Take.  We preregistered online and got our official "Researchers card" that allows us into parts of the LOC that aren't open to general public.  We got to see and learn from the wealth of primary and secondary sources house at the LOC.

While I can't share many of the images we got to see, I can share the research databases that I used while there.  I'd like to give a big shout out to the extremely friendly and knowledgeable staff at the LOC.  The following sites were shared with me during our visit by the staff.

The first is the America; History and Life database.  This research site allows you to search journals dating back 55 years by theme, reviews, and author.  We searched for the influence of the Scots-Irish on the culture of Virginia.

The second is the Internet Archive Database.  This site offers thousands of primary and secondary sources in digital, audio (including e-books and songs), movies/clips, and much, much more.  You can sort by the media type and title of the source you're looking for.  Many of them are offered as downloadable PDFs or available to read online.

 I used it to find the elusive resources for the Virginia state-recognized tribes.  I found this great downloadable PDF on the Rappahannock Indians.  The entire book is on there with some great photos and primary sources.

 Since this was created in 1925, I can't share the wonderful pics that are included in the book, but you should definitely go to the database and search for it if you teach Virginia's state-recognized tribes.

Do you have any great databases you use to find great primary or secondary resources?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reconstruction Period Primary Sources

We recently began a unit on the period just after the Civil War called Reconstruction.

Virginia Tech has some awesome pictures of the period that make a fantastic introduction to the unit.  There are hundreds of black and white historical photos that are returned with each search. You can select individual ones, zoom in, and discuss the images with your students.You can view the factories and people of this time period through the use of Virginia Tech's Image base website by clicking here.

I previewed the site by searching the following terms and selecting the photos I wanted to share with the students.

  • Foundry
  • Textile
  • Tobacco
  • Mills
  • Railroad

I chose images that are of the buildings and some that are of the workers. I wanted to choose photos that reflected the different  gender, age, and race of the workers in the various industries at that time. I also wanted photos that displayed the landscape around the buildings to emphasize the change in the land during this time.

**One thing you want to pay attention to is the copyright information at the bottom of each photo.  May of them may only be printed with permission, so you may want to view them only.

As an inquiry-based approach, you can have groups of students create charts like the one below for each photo.
In light of any copyright issues with the photos, I did not include any reproduced images.  What you see above is a picture of what the charts look like completed courtesy of Pinterest.  No credit was given to whomever uploaded this pic, so I'm including the original link here.