Thursday, August 27, 2009

Podcast #197 - Brainstorming Ideas for Constitutional Convention Activity

Hello. We will be starting our unit on the Constitutional Convention in about two months and for the past two years I've had an idea that I think would work well with my students but I have yet to flesh it out. I would like to match each of my students with a delegate at the convention and then as we study about the issues and debates at the convention they would look at the issue through the eye of "their" delegate. Each student would become personally connected to that delegate during the unit.

Today's podcast discusses how this project might look in an 8th grade classroom, what resources could be used to build this activity, and (probably most importantly) does this activity already exist in some format?

After you listen to the podcast I'd love to hear what you think. If you any thoughts or suggestions please leave a comment on this blog post. Thanks.

Win "We Shall Remain" DVD Set from PBS

PBS is giving away 20 DVD sets of their recent American Experience series "We Shall Remain".

Register here for the random drawing. Hurry, you must be registered by September 1, 2009.

"We Shall Remain" is an award winning documentary series describing the Native American experience in America. I hosted the PBS blog "Media Infusion" in April 2009 and wrote about this series.

I highly recommend the series for use in the classroom and hope you register to win one of the DVD sets.

Podcast #196 - Visual Timeline Activity to Start the Year

Hello. Today I would like to describe an activity that I recently did with my 8th grade American history class and I think is a fun way to start off the school year. This past summer I attended a session at the Project Zero Classroom workshop at Harvard with Mary McFarland - a former NCSS President. She described some routines to use with students in terms of visual time lines. I really liked the idea and decided it would be a great way introduce the curriculum to my students the first full week of school.

The podcast gives an overview of the project and some tips if you would like to replicate this activity in your own classroom. I have also included the PowerPoint presentations (links below) I used to create my visuals for the activity - please use and modify to your needs. If you have any suggestions or ideas about activity please share them by posting a comment to this blog post. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Podcast #195 - Project Zero Classroom 2009 at Harvard University

Hello. Today's podcast is a summary of a professional development workshop I attended this summer at Harvard University. I attended the Project Zero Classroom workshop on the campus of Harvard from July 27 to August 1, 2009. I have recently worked with the educational department of the Smithsonian and I was fortunate to be invited to attend along with staff members from the Smithsonian.

It was an excited week full of rich learning experiences. I was curious if a workshop that focused on multiple intelligences would incorporate the essence of the MI or be a standard "sit and get" like so many educational conferences. I was very impressed that Project Zero walked the talk and the organization of the entire workshop was unique and incorporated MI.

A highlight of the week was listening to Howard Gardner speak on several occasions about his MI theory and the impact his theory has had, and not had, on education in the United States and around the world. I was also thrilled to have an opportunity to speak with him individually at a reception on night later in the week. I asked him specifically about his views on the incorporation of social media and technology in education. He told me he felt it had great potential, if used correctly, to engage students who might otherwise not feel engaged by curriculum in schools. I also was able to get a quick picture with Dr. Gardner when he signed a copy of his book for me.

The podcast describes my experiences from the Project Zero Classroom workshop as I sat on the campus afternoon of the last day before I left for home. I have included a couple of pictures from the week with the blog post. Harvard is such a beautiful and historic campus (Washington was first given command of the Continental Army on the campus) and I took my share of pictures of classic buildings. I have created a Flickr set of pictures from the Harvard campus if anyone is interested.

I would love to hear from anyone else who has attended a Project Zero Classroom workshop in the past. I am letting the ideas marinate a little in my head and I'm slowly incorporating some of the concepts and routines into my teaching as a start the new school year. I would love to hear how former participants have incorporated the PZ ideas in their classroom and if they experienced any resistance due to high stakes testing, pressures from administration, etc. Please leave a comment on this blog post if you would like to share your experiences.