Sunday, October 30, 2011

Parent/Teacher Conferences and World Maps

Conferences were great. It was fun to meet families and to discuss student achievement. Seahawks students have some amazing families and it shows. They can be proud of their progress.

Besides conferences last week, students worked hard to show what they know about geography by completing large world maps. Their attention to detail and hard work paid off as they attempted their first map of the year. You can be sure that there will be more maps in the future as we study different ancient civilizations and cultures.

This upcoming week is almost the end of the first term and students will be busy reviewing for their end of the unit test. On Friday they will have a comprehensive geography test. We will spend Tuesday and Wednesday going over a study guide for that test, and then playing a review game on Thursday in preparation for it.

Please help your student prepare for Friday's test by checking to see that they are reviewing every evening and that they are getting their rest.

Below are some pictures of proud students and their completed world maps.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Google Earth, Five Themes Research, and Reading Questionnaires

We were very busy the past week. I saw students working hard to practice computer skills with Google Earth, as well as accomplishing some library research and completing reading questionnaires on the iPad. They are definitely changing from elementary school pupils and are becoming comfortable with middle school.
Through Google Earth this week, the children visited some amazing places we will be studying over the year. They saw a few important landmarks like the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and the pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza, Mexico.
However, besides using technology, students also learned some important research skills and went to the library to apply the Five Themes of Geography. They worked hard to learn about agriculture, industry, climate, transportation and communication of an assigned country. I was impressed how diligently they worked to complete the information.
Early in the week students also practiced reading fluency and completed two questionnaires about reading. It was interesting to read how they feel about such an important skill and to see that most of them really enjoy reading.
Just for your information, your students have a world map that will be due on Wednesday, October 26th of this week. I am also looking forward to meeting many of you at parent/teacher conferences on Wednesday evening and Thursday. You should have received an appointment form in the mail to sign up for conferences. If not, then please call the office to get one.
Finally, the end of the first term is fast approaching and students will have a Geography Unit test on Friday, Nov. 4th. You might want to make note of these important dates and check my calendars.
Below you will see pictures of Seahawks students involved in all the above activities from the past week.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Six Weeks In

It is amazing how fast the first term is flying by. We are still focusing on geography skills and last week finished learning all the Five Themes of Geography. Now we are taking some time to apply what we have learned. So, in the computer lab we are using Google Earth to gain background knowledge about some of the places we will study this year, and we are using the Five Themes of Geography to categorize information for such places as the Ziggurat of Ur, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the Great Wall of China.
This next week we will continue to learn new map skills by looking at different map projections. This lesson has its fun elements when we talk about what the word distortion means. I then show a picture of a very distorted Arnold Schwarzenegger which gets the children’s attention. Students thereby learn that flat maps cannot be accurate representations of the round earth, and have distortions. We then compare different map projections and learn that the Mercator map projection severely distorts Greenland. (Growing up the Mercator was the map I remember using the most.)
Students will also start a large map this week to practice locating some important places we will be studying this year. This map will be due Oct. 26th, and I will provide some class time to work on it. However, kids will probably also need to work on it at home in order to make sure it is completed.
Below are some pictures of students practicing reading fluency and using the iPads to do some country research.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Landform Dictionaries Are Done

Students worked very hard this week to complete their landform dictionaries and they did a great job. In fact some student work can described with one word: WOW! I am very encouraged by such superb effort.

Besides practicing our landforms this last week, we also learned about famous world landmarks. Students were very intrigued by these important world monuments. Next week should be fun as we explore places around the world using Google Earth as part of our keyboarding sessions. Down the road I hope we will be able to create some fun presentations about them.

We continue to work on geography skills, and students will next learn about the 4th and 5th themes of geography, which will connect with such map skills as scale and time zones.

The following pictures show students in class working with their iPads to locate deserts of the world, and I have one picture of some great student work. (Sorry, about so few pictures. I will make an extra effort this next week to get more shots.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Learning about Landforms and Physical Features

We had a very busy week applying the second theme of geography by learning about physical features of the earth. Students used their iPads to look at pictures I uploaded from my powerpoint, and then we defined landforms together. They held the digital pictures/definitions in their hands, while I explained details about the landforms at the Smartboard. It worked great and the iPads helped them visually to complete their landform dictionary.

The landform dictionary is the first big project they have worked on in Social Studies and they are working hard in class to complete it. Please check to see how your student is doing since it is due next Thursday, Oct. 6th and they will probably need to also work on it at home.

During this first term we will continue to practice geography skills such as finding elevation, calculating distances with scale, and locating important places in the world. The term is flying by and it is hard to believe that the first month of school is already over. However, I see a lot of growth as 6th graders settle into the routine of middle school. They are truly growing up.

Below are some pictures of students working on their landform dictionaries and working to complete a crossword about landforms.