Posts Tagged ‘activity’
I’ve decided to teach the bulk of 7th grade medieval and early modern history as a geography class. You heard me: geography. As in maps. I won’t ignore the standards — I’ll throw in a Holy Roman Empire here, a Reformation there — and yet the first few months or so will be purely geography.
… and that will the beginning of my job interview. It might also be the end. I’m required, you see, to demonstrate a 10-minute lesson to an small classroom of administrators.
And before those powers that be throw me out for being one of those insufferable standards ignorers, I will point to the standards. For every culture in the standards for 7th grade history, there’s a geography-related standard. Case in point:
7.2.1: Identify the physical features and describe the climate of the Arabian peninsula, its relationship to surrounding bodies of land and water, and nomadic and sedentary ways of life.
This pattern continues on, and so I feel justified in my example activity. I love how this assignment fit together so perfectly.
I will provide them with borderless physical maps of various regions in the world. Their assignment will be to place a given number of settlements, noting which two would be the largest. After this, they will be asked to estimate where the borders of their country end.
They need to know how geographic features affect human life, and so I provide this on the assignment sheet.
- Rivers and lakes supply food, water, transportation and trade. They can be a natural border between friendly countries, but are ineffective protection between dire enemies. Most major rivers and lakes are marked on your map.
- Coastlines supply food, transportation and trade.
- Plains are ideal for farming food, but are less useful the farther away they are from rivers. While they do not protect you, they do make trade easier.
- Deserts are too dry to sustain settlements, though nomads can live there.
- Mountain ranges are often natural barriers, separating you from other countries.
- For our purposes, seas are natural barriers.
There are also rules.
- The bigger your country, the harder it is to control it.
- Deserts and mountain ranges will produce very little food.
- You need fresh water. You will need lots of fresh water. (Hint: Oceans and seas do not provide fresh water.)
- Natural barriers (oceans, seas, rivers, mountain ranges, deserts) generally separate languages and cultures.
- For the purposes of our activity, your land area must be contiguous.
For modern world history and U.S. history, I would do a similar thing with tactics for my unit on wars. Always have the high ground; try to outflank your opponent; you need air cover.
If any of my 7th graders don’t know, for example, what “contiguous” means, they’ll put it on the Word Wall.
That’s my lesson for the administrators. Wish me luck.
Our school’s activity director, an out-of-character middle management V.P. type if ever there was one, is in charge of senior activities during our state testing. Seniors are exempt from testing around here, as long as they’ve passed the CAHSEE.
He could have had a revolt on his hands, but he handled the senior class with admirable aplomb.
There’s been a schedule change, guys. We need you to show up at 7:45 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.
Cries of shock and defiance. Teachers around me had a hunch that this was just a ploy to make the late students show up on time, and it turned out to be correct. Our graduating seniors didn’t, as a whole, realize this, so our activity director went on with his fake-out.
Now, now, now. Do you want to make it 7:30 a.m.?
Some jokers respond in the affirmative.
Really, now? Why not make it 7:15 a.m.? Or 7 a.m.? Or 6:15 a.m.?
While the jokers kept at it, the protests from everyone else got louder and louder at each suggestion. Our director then almost took on the manner of a charismatic preacher.
But I’m not going to make you get here by 6:15 a.m., and I’ll tell you why. There’s a reason. I was falling asleep last night, and I was wondering out loud what time I should make you guys come on Thursday.
“We have so much to get done, and so much to do,” I said to myself. “Maybe I should tell them to show up at 6:15 a.m.”
Then I heard this voice down from Heaven. He said: “No.”
And that’s why we’re sticking with 7:45 a.m.
Students laughed, and were ready to move on. Because of his authority, and because he joked at the very end, students accepted that arrival time. I said aloud something about establishment of religion, and I think he heard. Into the microphone, he told the students:
By the way, the voice I heard was Mr. Goldsmith’s.
Mr. Goldsmith is our principal.
I substituted for my master teacher, which meant that I got to cover his AVID classes. That’ll look good on the resume.
Even better than that: Fridays are Fun Fridays, where AVID-ites play games and have quick little bonding activities. Today, it was a simple game of 20 Questions, but we play the Famous Person Edition. Obscure figures need not apply.
I went first, and guessed correctly — on the dramatic 20th question, no less — that I was Jennifer Lopez. As a courtesy, I got to choose the next famous person, and as a history teacher who just started the totalitarianism unit, I had one man on my mind.
With the guesser facing the rest of the class, I wrote Adolf Hitler on the whiteboard. The class — all nine of them — groaned.
Worried by the groaning, he asked if he knew the person. They told him that he had better know this person. Some of the following questions amused me.
Am I a cartoon character?
Am I a superhero?
Did I make movies?
Hitler has been a cartoon character, he fancied himself an Übermensch and he was in a few movies. However, saying so for the purpose of 20 Questions, whatever degree of truth there might have been, would have been outright mean.
After all, Hitler didn’t, strictly speaking, start out as a cartoon hero as was the intent of the question, and he wasn’t a superhero in the eyes of at least a few German citizens. Moreover, he didn’t make movies so much as appeared in them — he left movie-making to Goebbels.
Missing a teachable moment usually doesn’t make me giggle so much. Knowing that it would ruin the spirit of the game, I kept my snarky observations to myself.
We got one more round of 20 questions in — Li’l Wayne — before they started playing volleyball with an inflatable globe.
I have a loose interpretation of Fun Friday.
Moral of the story? Anything can be a punchline. Anything.