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I am hoping all of you teachers have found time in your busy schedules to include simulations and enhancement of the basics. My students come back year after year and ask me if I am still doing plays in the classroom and playing Pioneers and Wizards.They never ask if I am still teaching transitional language!
I know my students' attendance is better, they are motivated to get the tough stuff done so we can rehearse for the musical.We need to keep kids excited about coming to school. Agree?

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Sandy,
I just purchased the Pioneers Interact Unit and wanted to know more about how you taught using it. There seems to be a need to add more background information to the unit, unllike the Gold Rush unit that comes with all the information in the teacher's guide. Did you have student's keep individual journals as you went through Pioneers? There doesn't seem to be a lot of information to take notes on. Let me know how you had the students' keeping track of their work.
HI,
I have played the Pioneer sim with 3rd and 5th grades. Each time I have had to modify it according to what prior knowledge the students had about that period of our history. I find the way that an author has set up/writes the simulation is not always the easiest way to organize it for you, the user.. What grade level are you teaching? Does it seem your kids have some knowledge in the time period? I've have incorporated the social studies text with this game before, one day we will read from the text, next day we will play some of the Pioneer simulation.
I have to admit, I have not used every part of the game, it takes up much of the time that I am "supposed to prep for tests". You know it takes lots of prep to do the simulations. Maybe play a few parts of the game this year, duplicate the map onto a large piece of butcher paper and laminate it. Then you will be ready the next time. I remember having to cut tiny squares for flags and land purchasing.. I know I did not help with your question. Keep at it.
Remember this: When we play a simulation and then move on to more boring learning styles, kids say remember playing Wizards? I wish we could it again.Kids do love simulations. Sandy
Patrice Schwartz said:
Sandy,
I just purchased the Pioneers Interact Unit and wanted to know more about how you taught using it. There seems to be a need to add more background information to the unit, unllike the Gold Rush unit that comes with all the information in the teacher's guide. Did you have student's keep individual journals as you went through Pioneers? There doesn't seem to be a lot of information to take notes on. Let me know how you had the students' keeping track of their work.
Sandy, I couldn't agree more. Below is an introduction to a manuscript written by Jim Sandoval and myself on cooperative learning. In it, we try to emphasis how enriching it is for students to be part of an active and engaged classroom.

http://worldhistory-bh.blogspot.com/
School has become such a test driven "business". I have been at it for so many years and have been forced to play the test game. I hate that I give in to such nonsense. Over the last 30 years it never fails, kids come to school more regularly when playing simulations and working in cooperative learning groups. They learn so much from each other. I have a group of students who want to sing songs and the schedule allows about 2 seconds worth of the arts, so I open my doors after school for 20 minutes for them to come in and just sing. There ends up being GATE kids, shy kids, kids with IEPs who meld together on their own, much better than anything that I would put together for them. It is so refreshing to sit back and just watch them have fun with their own singing/learning.
I fully agree. I include the death of Caesar at the beginning of the year as a Reader's Theater. I later have my students rewrite 'The Song of Roland' as a song or musical piece or poetry which they all share in class. Then later we read parts of Thomas More's Utopia, and have kids do a simulation where they create two worlds - one is technologically advanced and the other completely green or natural. These lead to great discussions related to governing bodies, working together, what makes a perfect society and more, I also try to keep integrating more new ideas, and technology. There is so much out there that it's hard to play with it all. In the past I've had my kids make a Christian Chronical and a Muslim Informational Brochure when we were learning about the formation of these two cultures. I want to incorporate some more new ideas - please share! Yes, I use interact too - Crusader Simulation and Bottega art studios from the Renaissance. I have my students work to build Castles, Cathedrals and Manors during our Middle Ages unit, This year we ended the year being Famous Figures from the Renaissance, but it didn't grab them like our Famous Romans Theater that we do at the beginninng of the year. I've not done a musical, but wow - don't know if I could take that on as I work on a team and everyone does their own subject and we're not self contained classes.
I am always looking for new ways to add, revise, edit, change, expand, contract and keep them and me excited! AGREE! : )
What grade levels do you teach? The way you describe your historical stuff you must be teaching 6th or 7th?

Sue Connelly said:
I fully agree. I include the death of Caesar at the beginning of the year as a Reader's Theater. I later have my students rewrite 'The Song of Roland' as a song or musical piece or poetry which they all share in class. Then later we read parts of Thomas More's Utopia, and have kids do a simulation where they create two worlds - one is technologically advanced and the other completely green or natural. These lead to great discussions related to governing bodies, working together, what makes a perfect society and more, I also try to keep integrating more new ideas, and technology. There is so much out there that it's hard to play with it all. In the past I've had my kids make a Christian Chronical and a Muslim Informational Brochure when we were learning about the formation of these two cultures. I want to incorporate some more new ideas - please share! Yes, I use interact too - Crusader Simulation and Bottega art studios from the Renaissance. I have my students work to build Castles, Cathedrals and Manors during our Middle Ages unit, This year we ended the year being Famous Figures from the Renaissance, but it didn't grab them like our Famous Romans Theater that we do at the beginninng of the year. I've not done a musical, but wow - don't know if I could take that on as I work on a team and everyone does their own subject and we're not self contained classes.
I am always looking for new ways to add, revise, edit, change, expand, contract and keep them and me excited! AGREE! : )
Hi Sandy. I do teach 7th grade. This is my 5th year coming up in the fall at MS. I taught elem ed for many years: 4th, 5th and 6th. When I came to the MS I had to find my way and am still trying to do that. I feel more comfortable as of last year, but every year is different and I have to keep trying new things to stay engaged and motivated for my students and myself. It's funny how the kids will say, "Hey, we didn't do that last year." or "Are you going to do this or that?" which they heard from a previous student and I tell them, "Nope, it's a new year and we're going to do things our way." I have my base lessons and main projects, but work around new discoveries and ideas constantly. I don't think I could do it the same every year. History is always changing and the changing perspectives make it fun. Plus, I find out more and want to keep growing too.
At the end of June I attended a Heinemann workshop in Maine that was incredible and I am going to try some new ideas next year including using a journal instead of a notebook to have my students become authors in their own right. I loved what Linda Rief does with her kids and thought - hey why not try this with History?! Kylene Beers and I talked about some of the great techniques that she uses and what I could do with my class even though the focus is on history - the links to literature are great.
Tonight as I was trying to sleep I was thinking of changing up the people, places and events for characters, setting and events that lead to climax in each culture that I teach. Kylene suggested working from a time line of the year like the plot chart of a piece of literature and have kids compare each group. I really like the idea and figure we can tie so much into it that will be new, exciting and help them make connections between the past and present.
What grade do you teach? Thanks for responding - look forward to hearing more about what you do also! ; ) Sue
I am presently teaching 5th graders and love that age. I have taught K-8. I had a most awesome 2 year experience teaching in a one room school! Best learning I have ever had. Isn't it fun to tie history with literature standards? I am in Cal. and everything we do has to address our state standards. I can tell you are passionate about your teaching. Tell me more about the cultures you teach and how you organize it. Organizing time periods along time lines have always helped me stay organized and on track. I get into Native Americans and can't move on to an another era so the time line idea keeps me moving.. I love those moments when the kids are on fire. I have a boy this year who got into Hitler and communism and wrote a persausive (sp) sorry it is late, speech around that subject. He is now reading a 500 page book written in Spanish on that historical era. Amazing kid! My school year ends July 21 so we are still pushing forward towards these last few days.Students are writing their promotion program using songs and readings that interpret their feelings about the world, their families, and themselves. Sandy

te>Sue Connelly said:
Hi Sandy. I do teach 7th grade. This is my 5th year coming up in the fall at MS. I taught elem ed for many years: 4th, 5th and 6th. When I came to the MS I had to find my way and am still trying to do that. I feel more comfortable as of last year, but every year is different and I have to keep trying new things to stay engaged and motivated for my students and myself. It's funny how the kids will say, "Hey, we didn't do that last year." or "Are you going to do this or that?" which they heard from a previous student and I tell them, "Nope, it's a new year and we're going to do things our way." I have my base lessons and main projects, but work around new discoveries and ideas constantly. I don't think I could do it the same every year. History is always changing and the changing perspectives make it fun. Plus, I find out more and want to keep growing too.
At the end of June I attended a Heinemann workshop in Maine that was incredible and I am going to try some new ideas next year including using a journal instead of a notebook to have my students become authors in their own right. I loved what Linda Rief does with her kids and thought - hey why not try this with History?! Kylene Beers and I talked about some of the great techniques that she uses and what I could do with my class even though the focus is on history - the links to literature are great.
Tonight as I was trying to sleep I was thinking of changing up the people, places and events for characters, setting and events that lead to climax in each culture that I teach. Kylene suggested working from a time line of the year like the plot chart of a piece of literature and have kids compare each group. I really like the idea and figure we can tie so much into it that will be new, exciting and help them make connections between the past and present.
What grade do you teach? Thanks for responding - look forward to hearing more about what you do also! ; ) Sue
Sandy - Wow! Don't kids like this make you want to do more? I know that I am so inspired by my students. It's part of what makes me keep looking for more, doing more and trying new things. I don't know that I can ever get it perfect, but it's sure fun getting it right and trying for perfection. I learn with them and play too. I am finding that the play is what really makes the difference.
It is great fun to integrate standards. Where are you teaching in CA? I am in Southern NH - see my link http://www.hbms.k12.nh.us/connellys/ The kids work is on display thru the student work link. I teach ancient world history - Romans, Byzantine Empire, Formation of Christianity and Islam, Feudalism thru the Franks and Gauls, Middle Ages and the Crusades, Renaissance and Reformation and wrap it up with Explorers from Europe. This year I just touched upon the explorers and the new world. I try to link past cultures with the present and have the kids make connection with the European and Asian cultures in these places today. We talk a little bit about the Silk Road and spices and trade as I dress up as Tradeswoman and tell the story of the priests sent to teach Cyrillic languages and gather silk worms in their staffs to return to Byzantium and Rome. This last year I didn't do this lesson and feel like the kids missed a fun experience. I'll do it this coming year.
I use to teach 5th grade and we covered early American history starting with Native Americans and then going all the way to the Civil War. It was such fun. I divided my class into tribes and they created large shields with information about their tribes and then we celebrated with a bring your bucket luncheon where parents came in to hear the tribal presentations. Then we broke into the colonies and talked about the Revolutionary War where I used some Scholastic Units. Then as we moved on to the settlements going to the south and west and the Civil War, we became ancient famous Americans. I often invited other classes to be our audience and took pictures. It was a lot of fun. We had journals and portfolios at the Elementary Level. Since I moved to the MS I've been using notebooks, but this year am going back to journals and am planning to challenge my kids to become historical authors who create their own best pieces of literature. I am sure they can outshine the texts. At least that is my hope and goal. It should be fun to have them share pieces of writing on a blog page and to include pictures from their own journals and research to support their journal writing and learning. We'll see how it goes.
Your student reading the 500 page piece on Spanish History - is he Spanish or Mexican? I can't imagine trying to translate history... I find that the battles and religious conflict with politics is very interesting. The boys seem to like the conflicts and battles too. They like the stories and I try to find more to support what I teach. I've started collecting videos to use and that is always fun.
The end of the year promotion ceremony sounds marvelous!! Wow~ Good luck with the last few weeks. I remember how intense it is - every year! I can tell you and your kids will celebrate a super time together learning and growing. That is what it's all about! Sue


Sandy Terrell said:
I am presently teaching 5th graders and love that age. I have taught K-8. I had a most awesome 2 year experience teaching in a one room school! Best learning I have ever had. Isn't it fun to tie history with literature standards? I am in Cal. and everything we do has to address our state standards. I can tell you are passionate about your teaching. Tell me more about the cultures you teach and how you organize it. Organizing time periods along time lines have always helped me stay organized and on track. I get into Native Americans and can't move on to an another era so the time line idea keeps me moving.. I love those moments when the kids are on fire. I have a boy this year who got into Hitler and communism and wrote a persausive (sp) sorry it is late, speech around that subject. He is now reading a 500 page book written in Spanish on that historical era. Amazing kid! My school year ends July 21 so we are still pushing forward towards these last few days.Students are writing their promotion program using songs and readings that interpret their feelings about the world, their families, and themselves. Sandy

te>Sue Connelly said:
Hi Sandy. I do teach 7th grade. This is my 5th year coming up in the fall at MS. I taught elem ed for many years: 4th, 5th and 6th. When I came to the MS I had to find my way and am still trying to do that. I feel more comfortable as of last year, but every year is different and I have to keep trying new things to stay engaged and motivated for my students and myself. It's funny how the kids will say, "Hey, we didn't do that last year." or "Are you going to do this or that?" which they heard from a previous student and I tell them, "Nope, it's a new year and we're going to do things our way." I have my base lessons and main projects, but work around new discoveries and ideas constantly. I don't think I could do it the same every year. History is always changing and the changing perspectives make it fun. Plus, I find out more and want to keep growing too.
At the end of June I attended a Heinemann workshop in Maine that was incredible and I am going to try some new ideas next year including using a journal instead of a notebook to have my students become authors in their own right. I loved what Linda Rief does with her kids and thought - hey why not try this with History?! Kylene Beers and I talked about some of the great techniques that she uses and what I could do with my class even though the focus is on history - the links to literature are great.
Tonight as I was trying to sleep I was thinking of changing up the people, places and events for characters, setting and events that lead to climax in each culture that I teach. Kylene suggested working from a time line of the year like the plot chart of a piece of literature and have kids compare each group. I really like the idea and figure we can tie so much into it that will be new, exciting and help them make connections between the past and present.
What grade do you teach? Thanks for responding - look forward to hearing more about what you do also! ; ) Sue

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