Students in middle school have access to a variety of technology tools for learning. 7th and 8th graders have their own laptops while 5th and 6th grade students share carts of MacBooks and Chromebooks. During flag ceremony on April 22, we watched this video by technology teacher Devin Wolfe to remind students and teachers about tips to keep their devices safe.
After studying the theme Primary Economic Activities, 5th grade students created mind maps with online tool called Coggle. This tool allowed them to structure clear and easy definitions and concepts while drawing lines to and from the central theme. Coggle has a lot of great features to help students display their thinking about a topic, and students were engaged in explaining the sectors of an economy making direct use of natural resources including agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining. These mental maps were shared enthusiastically using students' Google accounts.
throughout this hands-on project because of their interest in roller coasters. The simulation provided a lot of guidance so their roller coaster would work as intended.
The 6th grade used Chromebooks and MacBooks to do research for non-fiction informational reports. We perused websites and articles, discussed credible websites, took notes and synthesized information. We also used EasyBib to generate bibliographies. This was a great project in which students were extremely engaged in doing research on topics of their choice. Learn about the myths and truths of sleepwalking from Natalia's essay.
We reported on Fantasy Geopolitics in 8th grade earlier this year describing how it works to choose countries for a team and how scores are determined related to the amount of news for that country. Choosing a Fantasy Geopolitics team has been a tremendous success in all the civics classes with student engagement through the roof. Students are actively trading countries amongst each other or dropping and adding countries. To do this they must fill out a form and turn it in to their teacher. The form must describe why they want to drop a country, “there has been no news coming out of South Sudan for three days,” and why they want to add a certain country, “I want to add Chile because I read on the news last night that there was an earthquake off the coast of the country.”
Every Friday students complete an internet current events assignment. They find one major news story from each of the countries they drafted and complete a questionnaire that asks them to summarize, analyze, and reflect on each article. Finally, they have to look at the leader board (which countries are getting the most points via news articles) and explain why this is the case. They also have to look at their least performing country and assess why they think it is not being mentioned much in the news. For extra credit they can look at the Trends Map (a map on the site that shows where news is happening) and pick a country with no (zero) points, and find a recent news article about that country. Then they do the same thing as above- summarize, analyze, and reflect.
Participating, and succeeding, in the game requires students to be constantly reviewing news websites. They are looking for trends, looking for news that will give them points if they grab that country. The competition and constant change engage and motivate students to stay current in worldwide news.