Sunday, December 9, 2012

Studying Egypt

We began our study of Egypt this last week and focused on understanding how important the Nile River was to the ancient Egyptians. Without the Nile this ancient people would not have been able exist. The Egyptians often called the Nile “the giver of life.” This important river provided silt, fertilizer, water, food and even transportation for Egyptian daily life. So this next week students will be completing their own map about Egypt. We will also continue to examine Egypt’s geography and begin to study some of the important pharaohs, as well as monuments of this innovative ancient civilization.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Learning About Four Important Empires of Mesopotamia

We are almost finished with our study of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization. Just one month ago students did not know where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are, who Hammurabi or Nebuchadnezzar were, nor did they know of such empires as Babylon or Assyria. Now they fluently read these strange words, and almost none stumble over the pronunciations. However, soon we will be leaving our study of the ancient desert lands of Iraq, and will instead be focusing on the mysterious ancient world of Egypt. Students are  already asking when we will be learning about this ancient people.
As we study Egypt we will learn about the geography of the area, examine mummification methods, “visit” important monuments, as well as look at the pharaohs who built those monuments. Students in the second half of class will also be doing some research of their own, and will write an argumentative paper showing what they think about a particular monument, pharaoh, or achievement of the Egyptians. For many students studying Egypt is a highlight of the year.
I am including some pictures of students from the three different blocks involved in various activities from this week's study of Mesopotamia: reading Kids Discover magazine, examining pictures of artifacts, and completing a quiz.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Studying Mesopotamia
It has been several weeks since I posted to this blog and since that time we have been exploring the ancient civilization called Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is called the “cradle of civilization” because it is credited for being the start of civilization as we know it. It is here that early settlements developed and where people grew into large communities. The early Mesopotamians were the first to create the wheel, make bricks, and even come up with the 60-second minute.
This next week we will be examining the characteristics necessary for civilizations as we continue to look at Sumer.  Students will also have a homework assignment entitled “Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon" that will be due on Thursday, Nov. 29th.
I will try to post at least twice a month, but honestly it has been harder this year due to large class sizes and high energy levels in the classroom. As a teacher, I just haven’t had the freedom needed to take pictures like in the past.  Please continue to visit the blog, however, because I do update the calendars every week. This way you can keep up with the assignments your students are required to complete.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Preparing for the Geography Unit Final and Halloween Fun

I can hardly believe that we are almost finished with the first term of the school year. The past eight to nine weeks have gone by quickly. This week we finished our geography unit with review and a test over most of the things we have studied so far. Most of the children did very well on Friday’s test.
The next unit we will be studying will be ancient Iraq or Mesopotamia, the “Cradle of Civilization.” Grades will be posted this next Friday, Nov. 9th, so check with eSIS over the weekend or look for grades to arrive in the mail the week after.
This week we also celebrated Halloween. It is always fun to see the personalities of the children as they come dressed in costume and I enjoy taking their pictures to share with parents online.

P.S. I want to apologize for the quality of the pictures. I think my iPhone camera lens is dirty from being carried around in my pocket all day. So some pictures of students didn't get posted because they didn't come out very well. :(

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Large World Maps and Conferences

The past week and a half, students discovered just how large and challenging the world can be. They worked hard to complete a preview map of places we will be studying this year. During conferences many confessed that perhaps the most challenging thing they have done so far this year was completing this map. However, I do believe students learned a great deal from it including how to be thorough and careful with details.

In the second half of class, teams of children took previous research they completed about an assigned country and worked to complete a script for a slide presentation. They will continue with that research by putting it into presentation form this next week and then show it to the class so we all can benefit from what they've learned.
We are finishing up our unit on geography and will have a comprehensive test on Friday. Two days will be spent going over a study guide and another day playing a review game. Most children find this very helpful and do quite well on the unit final.  So homework this week for students will be studying for the test on Friday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Five Themes with Google Earth

We were very busy this week defining the remaining Five Themes of Geography and preparing for the Jog-A-Thon fundraiser. Students were very excited to participate in the different school spirit themes for each day, and were even positive about running in the rain. 
In class, we applied our knowledge of the five themes by reading how pollution has affected the reefs in a homework assignment. During the second half of class students also used Google Earth to explore the five themes further by visiting such places as the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Ziggurat in Iraq, looking at the Taj Mahal, the Buddha’s birth place, and even important Aztec and Mayan temples in Mexico. I can truly say that we really enjoyed our Google Earth experience.

Don't forget to put parent-teacher conferences on your calendar. They will be Wednesday evening, Oct. 24th from 5 pm. to 8 pm., and Thursday from 8 am. to 8 pm. Make sure you return the form to schedule an appointment time.

Pictures below show students practicing reading fluency with their iPads and working with Google Earth in the computer lab.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finishing Landforms and Discovering Famous Landmarks

This week students turned in their finished landform dictionaries. For the most part they did a great job. I think their work was some of the best I have seen during the past few years. Also, during the second half of class, we continued to practice keyboarding and then researched some famous landmarks.
Students are starting to seem comfortable with being 6thgraders. They have settled into routines and are starting to behave like “middle-schoolers”. However, we are still working on transitions between activities. Many of them think a change in activity is the perfect time to talk with their peers. So we will continue to work on switching gears efficiently in order that time is not wasted.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Practicing the Second Theme of Geography

The second theme of geography is called “Place” and helps students answer the question “What is it like at that place?” Many places have unique physical features and special human characteristics. So this week students learned some important landforms they will need to know as we study ancient civilizations. To show their understanding they are working on a landform dictionary where they match terms, definitions and pictures. Friday their text for the dictionary was due, and the complete project will be due on Thursday, Oct. 4th.
Besides working on landforms, students also began learning how to keyboard. This is something we have taken on as 6th grade Social Studies teachers in order to help students develop proficiency in this skill. Not all students can take it as an elective, so we try to provide another opportunity for them. 

Pictures that follow are of students working on their dictionary and practicing keyboarding.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Learning and Practicing Map Skills

Geography is defined as the study of the Earth and everything that’s on it.  That’s a pretty broad topic! So in order to make geography easier to comprehend geographers have come up with different ways to organize it. One method is to break it up into topics called the Five Themes of Geography.

This week we started defining those five themes and students learned about the first two themes: Location and Place. They discovered that often the first thing people want to know about a location is where it is. So we have been practicing latitude and longitude. This can be a difficult subject for some children, but we will comeback to it throughout the year. By the end of school most students will have mastered the skill.

The second thing most people want to know about a place is what it’s like there. So the next two or three weeks we will be defining landforms, and locating famous world features and landmarks. This is a high interest topic for most children, and they will be completing a landform dictionary as one of their projects.
Don’t forget that this Thursday is Back-to-School Night. It is from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Please be sure to attend to receive a class syllabus and to see what we have been doing in the classroom.