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Re: Looking for classroom activities?
Susan Hoffman (firstname.lastname@example.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
Crested Butte, CO