Monday, March 28, 2016

Groovy Primary and Secondary Sources

The theme of our spring book fair is Feelin' Groovy Book Fair.  The 1960s decorations are based on a time period that my students know very little about.  To teach some of our standards related to sources of information and to make the book fair more relevant to my students, I created a groovy primary and secondary sources lesson for my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students.

Here are a few of the Georgia Standards of Excellence that the lesson taught or reinforced.

Fourth grade:
  • ELAGSE4RI6: Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.
  • Social Studies Information Processing Skills: Identify and use primary and secondary sources.
 Fifth grade:
  • ELAGSE5RI6: Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
  • ELAGSE5RI7: Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate and answer to a question or to solve a problem efficiently. 
  • SS5H8: The student will describe the importance of key people, events, and developments between 1950 - 1975.
Sixth grade:
  • ELAGSE6RI6: Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.
  • L6-8RHSS9: Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
To prepare, I created five stations.  Each station contained a different primary or secondary source to teach students more about the 1960s.  Here are the five stations and how I located materials for each.
  • Photographs: I printed iconic 1960s photographs and mounted them along with a caption on triboards.  I also printed lots of pictures that showed students the popular clothes and hairstyles from that era.
  • Library books: I pulled all of the books in our collection about important events from the 1960s, such as the Vietnam War and the first moon landing.  I also included biographies about people who were famous during this time period, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Neil Armstrong.
  • Artifacts and documents: I included here copies of print advertisements, documents such as the text of Robert Kennedy's speech when he announced his presidential candidacy, and fun items such as my mom's 1967 yearbook.
  • Television: I created a short video with television commercials and short clips of shows from the 1960s and loaded the video onto the desktop of each computer in the media center.
  • Music recording: A listening station with headphones allowed students to listen to a CD of music from the 1960s without disturbing other groups nearby.  I also included at this station copies of the lyrics of the songs so that students could follow along while listening.
For each station, I created a sign to show students what they were analyzing.  I also included questions from the Library of Congress primary sources website.

When students came in to the media center for the lesson, I asked if they knew the theme of our upcoming book fair.  When they identified the theme correctly, we discussed what they already knew about the 1960s.  I explained to students that when they want to learn more about a time period in history, they can get information from primary sources or secondary sources.  After explaining these two terms, we discussed examples and also advantages and disadvantages of each.

Students were given directions to determine whether each station contained primary or secondary sources, discuss the questions on the station sign, and learn at least one fact about the 1960s.  Then I split students into five groups.  Each group was directed to a station.  After five minutes, the timer alerted students to move to the next station.

After students had explored each station, we gathered as a whole group again.  I asked students to decide whether the materials at each station were primary or secondary sources.  Then students were encouraged to share what they learned about the time period from the materials.

Click below to download the station signs I created for this lesson.

2016 Georgia Children's Book Award Winners

This year's Georgia Children's Picture Book Award winner is Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki.

My students loved this book!  They enjoyed poring over the illustrations and making connections to other familiar bear stories.  However, our school winner is Carnivores, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat.

This year's Georgia Children's Book Award winner is A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.

Although A Snicker of Magic has been popular this year, our school winner is Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford.

I love participating in the Georgia Children's Book Award program!  All students in fourth through sixth grade read at least three of the titles during the school year.  Having a common list of books to read builds a culture of reading in our school.  Students love discussing and debating their favorite titles.  I am always impressed by the rich conversations inspired by these books.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Paper Circuits

We recently held the last technology club meeting of the school year.  To celebrate, we ate pizza and made paper circuits!

I scoured the internet for directions on making paper circuits and found many great ideas.  However, I wasn't sure how much time we would have after the pizza party.  So I decided to start with a very simple circuit, providing lots of guidance.  The students who completed their circuit quickly were able to create their own second circuit.

To prepare for this activity, I prepared a baggie of materials for each student.  The baggie included a 5mm LED light, about 18 inches of adhesive copper tape, a CR2032 coin cell battery, a medium binder clip, a template for creating the circuit (with a small hole for the LED light), and a 4x6 print of Van Gogh's Starry Night (with a small hole for the LED light).  The template was hand-drawn and copied for students and included lines where the copper tape should be and marks for the

We began with a discussion of circuits.  Students knew that they needed a power source and a conductor to complete the circuit.  I showed them the materials in the baggie and asked them to identify the power source and conductor.  Then students watched as I demonstrated each of the steps under a document camera on the Promethean Board.  Last, students were given a baggie and they split into groups to being creating.

Here are the directions students were given.
1. Push the LED light through the hole in the template.  Carefully pull apart the leads and lay them flat along the template's lines.
2. Pull the backing off of a few inches of the copper tape.  Gently press the copper tape along the template's lines.  Be sure to cover each of the leads and cut the tape on each side of the LED light.
3. Fold over one corner of the template so that the battery is between the fold and the template.  The battery should touch the copper tape on both sides.  Use the binder clip to keep the battery from slipping.
4. Place the Starry Night print on top of the LED light so that the light shines through one of the stars.

Now that students have created their first paper circuit, I look forward to seeing other circuits inspired by this activity!