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    Connecting With Other Classrooms

    To contribute to the discussion below send e-mail to: jn-talk@learner.org

    Re: Looking for classroom activities?

    Susan Hoffman (shoffman@teal.csn.org)
    Sat, 1 Mar 1997 20:59:09 -0500

    >I am looking for ways to make the information found on JN exciting and
    >real to my class of 4th graders. Besides just sharing the reports with
    >your class, what specific activities do you do? Another concern is that
    >I need to have some sort of "grades" for my kids when the quarter ends?

    I'm a fourth/fifth grade teacher and have been doing Journey North
    for three years. This year is the most successful because I am limiting
    the number of migrations, we are working on one as a class, and I have let
    the kids choose the one they want to study. When they choose for
    themselves they seem to have more ownership and enthusiasm, even if it is a
    class vote and not all kids "win". Both the teacher's guide and the
    activites/ challenge questions have provided our class with plenty to do.
    The mapping has been an especially challenging, yet successful, activity.
    We used an overhead to project a map of Florida we found in an encyclopedia
    and were careful to include longitude and latitude lines. A lesson in the
    teacher's guide includes an activity similar to "Battleship", then the kids
    find a beach somewhere in the world and give clues including latitude and
    longitude. It is fun and really helped my students get ready to map their
    migrating animals. (We're studying manatees, an especially exotic animal
    for us, buried in many feet of snow in the Colorado rockies.)

    We are also planning on "adopting a manatee", and some students
    chose to do projects on manatees during a migration unit. Two students
    researched, prepared and videoed a manatee news report complete with a sea
    life backdrop. Two other students created a manatee newspaper and still
    another made an informative dioramma and report. In addition we are
    closely monitoring local signs of spring, noting the return of birds to our
    feeders and valley in particular.

    Students will also be choosing a project to work on alone or with a
    classmate. One student started studying bats last year, and since then we
    have put a nursery colony bat house on a shed in town. We anxiously await
    the occupation of the bat house in late April or May.

    Of all the things I do, I feel that student choice is the greatest
    motivator. I grade them by giving points or using a performance rubric on
    most activities. The assessments include writing answers to challenge
    questions alone or as a group: scored by understanding the question,
    thorough answer, reasonable answer, etc.; projects presented to the class;
    informative reports; creative writing stories or poems, etc.

    Good luck and have fun! This is a real world, real life experience
    you're letting your kids participate in. I don't think other learning
    materials I receive are as current as these, direct from experts over the

    Susan Hoffman
    Crested Butte, CO