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pre-2011 middle school ideas

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Message from eshorer

Deai: The Lives of Seven Japanese High School Students.
I had the opportunity to take part in a seminar at Loyola Marymount University last year that dealt with teaching about contemporary Japan through the use of large photographs detailing the lives of seven students. These photo essays are wonderful motivational tools, and provide colorful examples of life in Japan, with clear descriptions in both Japanese and English on the back of the photographs.
I just finished a unit with my 8th grade students using them for the LAUSD unit on Expository writing. A brief description of the project follows:
* We had just finished reading “Tears of Autumn,” a story by Yoshio Uchida in our Prentice Hall text, about young woman who is going to Japan for an arranged marriage. Students had already been given some background information on the culture and geography of Japan.

We brainstormed categories that make up culture. Students were guided to come up with topics such as: Family, food, housing, clothing/fashion, education, religion, etc.
Students were put in seven groups, of four to five students each. Each group was assigned a Japanese student, and given the set of photographs that detailed that student’s life.
Students were instructed to look at the picture side of the cards only, and to list things they saw that fit into the above cultural categories.
Students were next told to choose only three categories from above, and to gather information from the pictures and the text that would provide a good picture of that student’s life. They were asked to focus on things that were either different from American culture (e.g., the shape of the bathtub), or simply interesting (e.g., the Japanese McDonalds).
The project culminated with each group going to the front of the class and introducing their Japanese student to the class for five minutes, holding up various photographs that supported their talk.

It was a successful project that engaged the students while teaching them about contemporary Japan. Those interested in the materials can contact:
The Japan Forum
forum@tjf.or.jp (give the subject line: Deai order)

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Message from tbarbarossa

Recently, NPR interviewed an evaluator of Wikipedia--I'm sorry I don't recall the name--- and it was her assessment that Wikipedia compared favorably with Encyclopedia Brittanica with only four possible errors per entry (including minor errors) as compared to three errors per entry with Brittanica. I was surprised to hear of so many errors per entry, but apparently this is acceptable.

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Message from tbarbarossa

In an attempt to find out what my 8th grade English students already knew or needed to know about East Asia, I asked them to research and/or elaborate on five facts about China, five facts about Japan, and five facts about Korea. The assignment also included a question asking them to list the titles of all the books they have read or want to read in which an Asian or Asian-American is the main character, and then to give a short description of each, and then to do the same with movie titles. I am currently collating this information for the website I hope to create. The information is invaluable for many reasons. I can determine which book titles to include in my reading program, which websites are useful to my students, what areas about East Asia are lacking, what information is incorrect or insupportable, while trying to promote an open-minded view of all cultures of East Asia. This fits in with the unit on tolerance and the Holocaust covered every year.

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Message from crieder

I was reading the postings about Memoirs of a Geisha but could not figure out how to reply to Clayton's suggestion about the woman who did the study on the geisha. Today I spoke to the professor from Claremont and she also suggested looking into Darby's works ( I think that is correct). I really appreciate that info because I want to look into the historical aspects of the geisha. My interest has been peaked! I would like to know how to reply to a thread and I fear this is not the correc place but wanted to respond.

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Message from fisakson

Now that the Chinese New Year is approaching , I was wondering if anyone incorporates any activities into their English or History class. I teach 6th grade and I have a worksheet that discusses it and we talk about it but that's it. Any suggestions?

clay dube
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Message from Clay Dube

The Liza Darby works mentioned by Cathy are described and in some cases enhanced by her websites:

Tale of Murasaki -- Heian Aristocratic Society

About Dalby

Amazon listing for Dalby's Geisha

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Message from jpena

Promoting critical thinking skills like analysis is so important. My students struggle with this so much. One idea I share is to have students do a compare/contrast venn diagram comparing Japanese feudalism and European feudalism. This type of lesson is very simple to do and yet promotes a key skill of analysis. This type of lesson follows closely to California State Content standard 7.5 and 7.6. If you use the Across the Centuries textbook, you can use pp. 271-274.

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Message from jpena

Does anyone know of any creative ways of teaching East Asian geography? I always feel I could do better to teach geography in a more hands on & exciting way. Help!

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Message from tbarbarossa

It is amazing how little our students know of geography! Of course, maps change all the time, right? I was thinking of one idea that might be do-able, maybe on Fridays or short days. How about Trivial Pursuits? The Junior game has very worthy questions on geography that might stimulate interest in retaining geographical info. If not Trivial Pursuits, then have kids make up their own type of Trivial Pursuits or Jeopardy Game. The'll learn so much and be challenged at the same time. Nothing like that old American competition to stir things up.

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Message from gmzarou

I find a good way to lock that geography knowledge in is to tie geographic features to cultural development. For example, an island nation breeds skilled fisherman, tropical cultures respect and fear the hurricane (monsoon), etc.

Re: Asia, try showing the kids elevation maps of China. Maptell (http://www.maptell.com/maps/webmap/world/worldelev.htm) provides a nice, full-color elevation map of anywhere in the world. Or I also like this one of China from AskAsia.org (http://www.askasia.org/images/teachers/media/43.gif)

Then, ask them questions like, "Why do you think the Ancient Chinese settled in the northern plain?" "Why do you think China was isolated from the rest of the world in ancient times?" "Why do you think a number of different cultures developed in China in ancient times?" to get them thinking about how geography affects culture. Plus, when they think of China from now on, it will no longer just be a big red blob on the map, but they will have an appreciation for the rich geographic diversity (mountains, deserts, etc.).

m@x

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Message from gmzarou

It occurred to me that I referenced AskAsia.org (http://www.askasia.org) in my last post without saying anything about it. This website, which I'm sure has been mentioned on this forum before, is maintained by the Asia Society, "an international organization dedicated to strengthening relationships and deepening understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States." Sounds familiar, eh? In this case, however, the Asia-inspired billionaire is John D. Rockefeller III.

It not only has a great "interactive atlas" co-authored by the National Geographic Society for students, but also lesson plans, maps, images, and discussion boards for teachers. It's definitely a great one-stop shop for Asia-related information.

My only criticism is that with so much information, it's difficult to find what you're looking for without becoming hopelessly distracted. If I can't concentrate, imagine how a 12-year-old all hepped up on Hot Cheetos is going to fare.

m@x

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Message from gmzarou

Have any of you guys found this website useful?

http://www.historyforkids.org/

Founded in 1995 as a community service learning project about Rome and Greece at Portland State University in Oregon, this site now seems to cover all of Europe, Asia, and Africa, up until 1500 (CE). There's definitely a wealth of information here, and the site aims to be kid-friendly, but....I don't know, I'm not sure how valuable this would be in the classroom.

For one thing, it's very ad-heavy, and if you're using outdated computers (as most of our students are) it's very slow. In some cases, the ad takes up more space than the column, implicitly sending the message that the ad is more important than the text. And I find the text itself a little too simplified.

Maybe this would be useful as an "into" activity, just to get kids interested and spark a few ideas, but I'm not sure that it's the most educational site out there.

thoughts?

m@x

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Message from zarooum

You guys should check this out:

http://www.mrdowling.com

He's a middle school history teacher in Palm Beach, Florida who has created an incredible website. We found all kinds of stuff when we were creating our lessons, and then one day realized that since we were only using the China pages (http://www.mrdowling.com/614china.html ), we had only scratched the surface!

All of his lessons and homework (even quizzes) are available for download (and in Word, so you can make any changes you need) and all he asks in return is that you drop him an email telling him (and his students) how you used the site. Thumbs up.

Hey, maybe someday our website will have been visited by people in over 180 countries . . .


Linda Zarou

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Message from dbrittenham

Hi. I am an NCTA alum (2003), and am benefitting from all the Middle School ideas here. Sounds like you have a dynamic seminar! I am currently teaching Japan (7th grade), and use TeacherWeb for my classroom webpage. I have quite a few resources posted there now. You might want to take a look. The URL is http://teacherweb.com/CA/SouthPointeMiddleSchool/MsBrittenham/h1.stm
[Edit by="dbrittenham on Jan 29, 2:49:52 PM"][/Edit]

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Message from zarooum

I just read your post requesting ideas for teaching geography. The most original method I have found is to have the students use their bodies to represent landforms. They lay on the floor to represent rivers and seas and wave their hands to represent the way the water flows. If they are being the Gobi desert, they will whisper, "hot, dry, hot dry." They stand up with hands overhead to represent mountains. After you have placed everyone strategically, corresponding to a map you are displaying on the overhead of the region you are teaching, then the rest of the class usually decides where the best place to settle is. Most of the 6th grade geography standards expect the students to understand how geographic factrors effect where ancient cultures settle. Once Dalvon has played the Yangtze River or Myeshia and Shonisha have been the Himalayas, you'd be surprised how easily the class remembers the geography of the region.

Linda

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Message from fisakson

What a cute and original idea! This is definitely an idea I will use with my 6th graders. Tell me, have you ever taken pictures of your geography lesson? I would love to see a picture of "China"!

Felisa

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Message from zarooum

Since I have finished teaching my unit on Ancient China, I am starting to reflect on what worked best. One of my favorite lessons was inspired by Dube's "Encounters" method of teaching. In order to make the three philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism and Legalism seem real to my 6th graders, I taught each lesson using an environment reflecting the respective philosophy.

For Confuciansim, students arranged their chairs in small circles and a student representing an elder stood above each group as the wise mentor who led the instruction. Students showed their elders great respect. bowed to them and thanked them for teaching them.

The next day for Daoism, students could sit anywhere they liked--most chose the floor or on top of desks. They were allowed to study anyway they liked and to demonstrate what they learned in creative ways.

On the last day, students were ushered into the classroom to desks in rigid rows an arm length's apart. They were ordered not to look the teacher in the eye and to study the material on legalism silently on their own. Any student who disobeyed was exiled to stand in the back of the room. The kids loved it and when asked to write an essay on the three philsophies they really came through.

Attached is the writing prompt I used as an assessment.

Linda

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Message from zarooum

An idea to help sixth graders use critical thinking while studying the achievements of Qin the first emperor of China is to have them create a "commenorative plaque" or a "wanted poster" once they have researched Qin. They need to decide whether he was an effective ruler or an ineffective ruler and whether they should decide to immortalize him with a plaque or put out a warrant for his arrest using a wanted poster.

I downloaded examples of plaques from the internet to give kids ideas and most of them knew what a wanted poster looks like. As part of either poster, they were required to illustrate at least 3 things that Qin did to support their conclusion.

The posters turned out so great I laminated them for posterity.

Attached are a few examples.

Linda

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Message from zarooum

As a final assessment for my 6th grade unit on ancient China, I had my students create accordion books to answer the question: What factors promoted unity and what factors discouraged unity in ancient China and why.

First I had them brainstorm using the topics and factors under each topic below:

Two examples were already done for them:


CULTURAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Shang tombs
Building the Great Wall--promoted unity because it protected China from foreign invaders
Development of Silk Road
Standardization of writing and weights and measures
Tai chi

GEOGRAPHY
Elevation--promoted disunity because it kept the settlements separated from each other
Temperature
Rainfall
Types of vegetation

GOVERNMENT
Legendary emperors
Shang dynasty
Zhou dynasty
Qin Shi Huang Di
Han Dynasty

PHILOSOPHIES
Ancestor veneration
Confucianism
Daoism
Legalism
Buddhism

TRADE
Exchange of goods during Shang dynasty
Merchants during Han dynasty
Silk Road routes

SOCIAL GROUPS
Artisans
Imperial family
Merchants
Nobles
Officials
Peasants
Slaves
Soldiers

After they chose four factors that promoted unity and four that discouraged unity they illustrated the factors and wrote summaries of each on the pages of their books. They turned out beautifully.

Attached are some picutres of the final result.
Linda

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Message from jpratt

I'm having difficulty finding a focus for China. How can I effectively teach the different schools of religous thought? I adapted the idea of the debate that Clay had us participate. I want my students to work in groups and present information about how their religion views various topics like government/family/etc.

Any other ideas?

jem

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Message from babrown

I ran across this web site and thought it looked useful. It is a collection of lesson plans from the New York times.

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/china.html

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Message from efoster

A couple of years ago I purchased the Tales of Time Literature Aligned to CA History-Social-Science content Standars Grades Six to Eight. It is a great list of fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction and poetry readings that include titles, authors and descriptions. It fills a 3" binder! It is a great resource for literature that is linked to the 6th to 8th grade history-social science curriculum.
It cost $15.78 from the San Joaquin County Office of Education, PO Box 213030, Stockton, CA 95213-9030.

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Message from efoster

I love geography and start every unit with a map test that, surprisingly, my students look forward to more than a chapter test!
I start with a blank map and a list of about 40 countries/geographic features. Students then label the map with numbers based on their list of countries/geographic features. For the test I give the same map with the numbers scrambled. Usually about 80% of my students get As and Bs. They seem to have a real sense of accomplishment when they do well on the test and they are less anxious about future map tests. Studying is still critical to their success.
I usually try to give my students memorization tricks for remembering location of places. I know some teachers who are able to sing the order of the countries to their students (Europe map specifically) but I am musically challenged so I can't help you there.

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Message from mstevenson

How much time do you budget to complete this task? Do you have any pictures of previous books or cardboard printers?

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Message from mstevenson

Thank you for the idea and resource. I am going to use it to begin my unit on China. In the past do you have students email, present or print their scrapbooks. What if any grading criteria do you communicate to students? At the end of the unit do you have them update their scrapbooks to reflect their learning?

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Message from mstevenson

There are overheads for grades 6-8 from TCI History Alive. Recently, they have also made great strides to align all of their curriculum to California State Standards.

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Message from jshepherd

"Marco Polo Contoversy" does indeed breed interest. You could also try this in the form of a web quest. After mapping Marco Polo's journey and discussing the different positions divide students in to groups, give them guiding questions, a position, and a list of websites they can use to gather information. After organizing their information have a classroom debate. This can be used to meet not only history standards but the LA standards of research, identifying the author's perspective and persuasion.

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Message from jshepherd

A couple of ideas for teaching the different belief systems:
- webquest- give your students guiding questions then have them search for their answers.
- Character posters of the different founders (my students love these)
-analyze the different belief systems of cultures they've already studied, identify the basic tenents, why/how do we know these... make sure they understand that often "religion is culture", look at the culture's where Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism are practied and were practiced and identify the basic standards of society. Answer which go with each belief system.
-Pictures always help.. I build slide shows off the internet to illustrate ideas and give examples of the belief systems.
- One thing I tried this year as the culminating assessment of the three religions/philosophies is have my students write a compare and contrast essay. They were able to use our class discussion/notes, different websites, as well as books and other resources I have in my room. I provided them with a number of graphic organizers as well (I think these are necc. for the majority of students to organize their info.) This worked wonderfully for all my students but primarily for my eld kids to drive home the belief systems.

Julia Shepherd
Riverside, CA[Edit by="jshepherd on Feb 19, 2:58:13 PM"][/Edit]

clay dube
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Message from Clay Dube

Julia,

I love the idea of conveying beliefs graphically. We routinely have students create posters, etc. to illustrate the teachings of the sages. I think that kids would enjoy making their own powerpoint presentations as well. What images do you use to illustrate Daoism?

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Message from jshepherd

The majority of images I use for Daoism of course come from nature. I use a river (as well as the river system of life. River,animal,insect.. work together in harmony)
-a meditating person, as well as have students create their own images of meditation
- the mobius circle to illustrate perfect ongoing harmony
-have students create their own symbols of equilibrium
-Natural order of decompositon (circle of life); each thing needs to "go with the flow"
-of course the yin yang, and this year I found the manj which illustrates heaven and earth meeting yin and yang.
-Does anyone else have suggestions?
Daoism is the most difficult to find fixed images for...

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Message from jshepherd

To add to the idea of using the influence of geography on culture one thing my students love is going to googleearth.com. You can zoom in or out so they can see from the satelite view why people may choose to settle/abondon a certain area.

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Message from cyu

Julia, thank you for your ideas. I was thinking about doing something with Chinese belief systems next year, maybe persuasive essay unit for Honors class. With your suggestions, I may even try it this year. I need to spend some more time about how I would want my students to write the actual persuasive essay. Any suggestions?

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Message from mstevenson

Thanks for the website. If you are interested in Japan resources for seventh grade, I am attaching the lessons I created from my NCTA seminar and will follow with the handouts I created to correspond to it. I used this lesson last year to work on dialogue, emphasize perspective and to teach about the Mongol Invasions of Japan. Students create anime style comic strips of the Mongol invasions during a class activity. They also write what if expository essay that covers the role of chance in history. Finally we used partner journals and current events to work on dialogue and perspective while identifying differing viewpoint of historical events.

Thanks for the website. If you are interested in Japan resources for seventh grade, I am attaching the lessons I created from my NCTA seminar and will follow with the handouts I created to correspond to it. I used this lesson last year to work on dialogue, emphasize perspective and to teach about the Mongol Invasions of Japan. Students create anime style comic strips of the Mongol invasions during a class activity. They also write what if expository essay that covers the role of chance in history. Finally we used partner journals and current events to work on dialogue and perspective while identifying differing viewpoint of historical events.

I switched to sixth grade this year so I have not been able to tweak the lessons since the first run last year. Please share any changes that you make or feedback you have.

Thanks

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Message from mstevenson

Attached is the outline I use for the cartoons of the Mongol invasions of Japan. It can be duplicated for any series of events that you want students to represent visually. I have students write captions and dialogue to correspond to the event. For the Japan lesson we draw pictures from right to left to match the text orientation.

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Message from mstevenson

This attachment is the outline for a buddy journal that I use with students to develop the dialogue for their cartoons. More importantly they write from and respond to the different perspectives of people involved in history. I use the same approach in Language Arts for students to understand or develop characters.

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Message from mstevenson

Last post related to my Japan lesson... I promise I am attaching the reflection handout that I use with the cooperative learning anticipatory set that highlights different perspectives. This activity and the Zoom and ReZoom books were featured at the San Jose Writing Project and really create an "aha" moment that germinates great discussion.

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Message from jshepherd

I like the idea of using a persuasive essay for the three religions. I would first make sure they have a firm understanding of the period, cultural, ecomomic and political background of where the religion was practiced.

- split your class into the social hierarchy groups of the period and have them research why the religion(s) appealed/did not appeal to that group. (maybe cooperative learning groups?)
-OR, split them into Buddhist, Daoist, Conf. groups, have them make charts giving concrete examples of why/why not the religion appealed to each group.
-Have the students present their findings and post their charts for ref. while they write.
-Have them write the essay using the guidelines you set out for them.
-Split your class into groups based on the three religions and have them debate eachother.

-Do you want them to use all three religions in their essay?
-Do you want them to choose a perspective, or assign a perspective. Ex. You are a scholar official...
-Do you want them to use examples from today, or keep in in the period they are studying?

I've visualized this in my head, but I don't know how well I've explained it here. If you have questions, please let me know. Maybe we can brainstorm for more ideas together.
:-D
Julia

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Message from jreynolds

The History Alive! textbooks are awesome. They are created by a teacher, and they are organized in ways that make so much more sense than some of the textbooks I have. They have great pictures, and if you can get your district to approve it (or department) or just buy a full set... it is absolutely worth it. You can get the pictures in the text in a program that you can show with detail to help compare and contrast. They encourage so much kinesthetic learning. I went to a seminar of theirs during the California Council for the Social Studies conference in San Diego... I would switch to their texts in all grades if I could (I'm doing what I can). In the meantime, I think using some of the info in them is a great resource that really benefits the students. The website is great too, and even has some help with primary resources when possible.

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Message from oiwuagwu

I think some good ideas for art lessons are using Chinese calligraphy and Chinese/Japanses landscape painting with middle school or high school students. The last meeting was really good to see some of the examples of Chinese art. I am currently planning on doing a unit that includes stamp making, calligraphy, and landscape painting.

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Message from jshepherd

I used a lesson on the etymology of Japanese with my students starting with the Chinese pictographs. They could then see the progression of the symbols as well as the adaptations made by the Japanese after they adopted the Chinese symbols. I have them create their own symbol as well as use the Japanese to create a water color "name" plate.
I say "name" because they have to choose ideas that represent themselves.
I found this to be a great transition lesson between China and Japan, illustrating how much was borrowed from the Chinese.

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Message from babrown

A friend sent me this web site with great comic books. I thought it might be useful. Topics include the saying of Buddah and the complete Analects of Confucius Volumes 1 - 3.


http://www.asiapacbooks.com/group.asp?id=70

Barb

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Message from dash

During the ancient China unit, my class conducts a mock trial. This lesson was created by Laura Allen, a teacher at Miller Middle School in Cupertino. Every year, I have modified the requirements and procedures, but have found that the students are truely engaged.

The mock trial places Emperor Qin and his advisor Li Si on trial for bookburning and censorship. The students gain background knowledge by reading numerous articles about censorship. Most students are unaware that censorhip exisits and are shocked to find that books, which they have read, have been banned in several libraries in the U.S.

By conducting a classroom trial, the students examine both sides and become passionate about the issue. The trial points out Emperor Qin's accomplishments as well as those things that many consider "evil". The students also gain a knowledge of the legal system in the U.S. compared to that of China.

I am attaching the power point presentation, which outlines the project and standards. If anyone is interested in this lesson, I would be more than willing to share the rest of the details. -Dana Ash

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Message from dash

I agree, History Alive is amazing. Without it, I don't know where my history curriculm would be. TCI also has excellent interactive notebook ideas. I have found that using a notebook for each unit enhances the curriculum and provides the students with an opportunity for personal reflection.

Information for History Alive can be found on their website: http://www.teachtci.com. I found the seminar to be very rewarding and helpful. I walked away with lessons and ideas that I could use in my classroom the next day.

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Message from nventura

I recently gave a Haiku lesson in my classroom. The students were very engaged because I gave them a great deal of historical background on Haiku. I also stressed the importance of the traditional Japanese form and shared ways it was actually used in thirteenth century Japan. I really feel that having a good background knowledge gave the students the stepping stone to write great traditional Japanese Haiku poems. I have to say that last year, I honestly didn't have a great knowledge base when I taught Haiku, so I stuck to the form and structure of the poem. This year I took it to another level, and much to my surprise so did my students.

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Message from vgairola

I ham using the History Alive series and the students love the overhead color transparnecies and also the worksheets that go along with it because most of my students are visual and kinesthetic learners. I think it is a very useful tool to complement the regular textbook.

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Message from vgairola

I found the presentation by Prof. Ye from UCR to be very informative on China. He did exhibit mastery about China. However, I think his perspective on other countries - like the nature of the tea cermony of Japan and the 'untouchables' of India - reflected his limitations on understanding of other regions in proper context outside of China.
A good lecture overall and I would't mind listening to him again.

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Message from jreynolds

I think that is a good idea too. Kinesthetic activities are bery good at helping the students to remember what they have learned.

I took a seminar at the History Conference that was about teaching geography with kinesthetics. Here are some of the ideas I got from the conference:

What you were talking about reminded me of how she described teaching them countries. She would stand in front of the class but face the same way. Then she would say put your arms and up and draw and square! That's Canada. Now put your arms a little lower, and draw a rectangle. That's America. Now down and to the left, draw an upside down triangle. That is Mexico! And that so on. She would have a template on the wall to remind her and the kids... and it would also be a visual to aid their kinesthetic.

Teaching kids North South East and West can be difficult. They often confuse maps and real life... Is North Up? Or is it always to my right? So one idea is to label the 8th grade lawn or the PE field or even the walls on your classroom. After they are labeled which way is which, have the students listen to some music with a good beat... not too loud. They person had a great disc with African inspired music. There would be lyrics, then music, then lyrics, etc. When the lyrics were on, dance with the kids. When the music is on, tell them "Everybody North!". Then everyone walks four steps North to the beat. Then you can randomly call out whichever direction you would like each time. It gives them practice and eventually they remember. Then you can have them do it outside or somewhere else to keep the knowledge that N, S, E, and W don't change. You can also make a race for them like the game "four corners" using N, S, E, and W.

The younger the kids, the more they like it. Sometimes the older ones will surprise you too. I think that the 8th graders that I have this year would not do it. They are too easily embarrassed. However, the 6th graders I had last year, that will be 8th graders next year, would totally do it. They are still hyper as 7th graders. So I think it depends on your group.

I hope some of that was helpful. Have fun!

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Message from jreynolds

Even better than elevation maps, I like relief maps. Students can feel the texture change with their hands. Unfortunately, the schools are often too cheap to provide enough of them.

However, there are two things you can do. One thing, is to try ordering one large one and using it in a group project that required kids to think about what they feel and see. Another one, is to create your own. For my students, only in 6th grade, it is the IDEA that they need to understand. It does not need to be perfect. I have done this in two ways. The first way, is that I made a model of Egypt with Sculpey Clay. Then I painted it with the Niver River and all. I was trying to help them understand why Upper Egypt was in southern Egypt. It did help. We passed it around during lecture, though a bigger one would have been even better. The second thing I did, was for Greece. We used card stock I had, and I bought some yellow craft sand, and I used cheap foam shapes, but you could also use pebbles, dry macaroni, or shells. We drew the shape on the blue cardstock. Then glued sant to the outline, representing the coastal plains, and then stacked the shapes where there were mountains. The students remember it well, and loved the activity. I also had them do some reflections after. Both of these examples can be done for Asian places, particularly China.

Hope it was helpful! Enjoy!

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Message from cyu

Responding to nventura

That is so true. If I as the teacher have the in-depth knowledge of the subject, I can make the lesson come alive by giving rich background. When I show a little more enthusiasm than usual in the subject, students do get more interested in their learning and the classroom environment becomes much more learner-friendly. I have found, as I finished the poetry lessons, that my students have very shallow knowledge of the forms of poetry. I am learning myself now to revisit the unit later in the year when all the grades are done for 8th graders. I do want them to appreciate the true nature of the different forms of Japanese poetry. This year I have become more student-friendly teacher, allowing a little bit of informal talks here and there.

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Message from nmacanish

I read a few posts from other people who use the History Alive curriculum. I've also used many of their lessons to teach India and China. I really like their activity on the Silk Road. The students get to act out what trading was like for people on the Silk Road. They also get a birds eye view of how culture, religion, and language were also exchanged as a result of trade.

My students from last year were able to explain the difficulties related to travel and the dangers of bandits and weather. I think it's a great kinesthetic way to introduce the idea of the Silk Road.

My second favorite lesson is the mandala of Hindu beliefs. The students are required to create a mandala in order to illustrate the main tenets of Hinduism. Attached with the lesson is some beautiful portrayals of Hindu beliefs. The students were really able to think of some creative ways in which to illustrate Hindu beliefs. They were also really excited by the idea of karma and being reborn. I told them that if they didn't listen then in their next life they would come back as a lower life form! I think some of them might have believed me!

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