Creating a Buzz with Cross-Curricular Lessons
I know I say this every year, but this year I am very optimistic about MAP scores this year. The kids worked so hard and seemed to breeze through the Communication Arts assessment. I know we were very well prepared!
I have found that, in the past, it has been rather difficult engaging the kids after MAP testing is over. It seems as if most of them think it's already the end of the school year and lose focus entirely. This year, we are trying something different to thwart their plans of giving up on further learning.
Mrs. Auld and I have put our heads together to come up with an exciting project for our 8th graders. They are building rockets - yes, actual launchable rockets! - in Science and will be re-writing the very unclear and incomplete instructions in English. Armed with new webcams, we are now able to use Skype to video-call one another's class with pertinent questions as well as other collaborative endeavors. Needless to say, the kids get quite the kick out of this, and so do I! We are only beginning this project, but I think that it will prove to be an effective way to keep our kids on task - with a task they like - until the very end, while having a bit of fun too.
To keep the 7th graders interested, I save our American Folklore: The Tall Tale unit for after MAP. This is an engaging, very interesting, extremely entertaining way to cover important literary concepts and techniques while reading some super funny tales. We all remember Pecos Bill, Johnny Appleseed, and Paul Bunyan. I was raised halfway around the world and even I have read these tales of great heroism and even greater hyperbole. The kids find it interesting that this country's history (specifically, the Westward Expansion) is what spawned these fantastic tales and come to understand how the Tall Tale came to be a truly unique American genre. And, they can draw upon previously learned information taught them in Social Studies by our illustrious Mr. Butler. By the end of the year, they will create their own Tall Tale; this is where they have some real fun!
I know that school isn't all about fun, but I do know that kids are more open to learning if they enjoy what they are doing. With the new technology and cross-curricular horizontal teaming, this can be a certainty. The students' success is our only priority in this building, and I am proud to work with colleagues who realize this!
This has been a great year and I look forward to the next. Until my next newsletter in August, I pray that you all remain safe, healthy, and happy. I also pray that kids keep reading over the summer. Just a few minutes a day will help them keep their skills up. Thanks!