Today I'm linking up with one of my BBBs, Joanne at Head over Heels for Teaching. Joanne is fabulous people! I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting her in the summer, and her positive energy has helped me out many times!
If you've managed to read my posts this week, I've been blogging about the Ancient Egyptian tomb that my smarties put together. If you are interested, you can read Part One and Part Two.
One of the things I loved about this project came at the end. We had been practicing a lot of informational reading and writing skills throughout the unit. Some of them we were teaching in ELA, and others in our social studies class. We focused a lot on one sentence summaries when we were reading books about the subject. During that reading time I would pair my students with other smarties that were studying the same topic for the research portion. This gave them a chance to make connections with other people who had similar topics. It was a great way to reinforce key conversation skills. At the end though, for the last piece, I mixed it up a bit. I had students pair up with anyone of their choice. Naturally, they gravitated back to their buddies, but that didn't matter. The challenge I gave them was to create a summary paragraph that connected their two topics. WOW! I got some amazing, powerful paragraphs. My students had to think about connections that weren't obvious. It was mind blowing to watch what they came up with:
One pair of students had to summarize how the Nile River connected to mathematics. They wrote about how the Egyptians were responsible for creating a calendar similar to the one we use today, and they used it to mark the flood patterns of the Nile. I know that doesn't sound like much, but they were into it because they could work with a friend! They also had to come up with pictures and create a collage that complimented the paragraph. <I love that I could use the paper tablets I bought on clearance at Walmart for 3.00 for this project!>
Here is another example. In this one, one student had Egyptian medicine, and the other had agriculture. They wrote about how the Egyptians actually had to learn to grow and cultivate plants that had medicinal value! Holy Moly Batman! That's critical thinking! Take that NYS ELA assessments!
Here is another picture of the projects on the wall. Our benchmarks for social studies are above them.
Finally, to keep them motivated, I showed them some silly Egyptian videos along the way.
Have you see this one? It is The Bangles Walk Like an Egyptian put to Michael Jackson's Remember the Time video:
and I have to save the best for last... there can't be Ancient Egypt without Steve Martin!