Pre-Reading Activities: Introducing Students to Life in the 1960s Through Drama

One of the novels that I absolutely love to teach is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  I have yet to encounter a student that did not love this novel!

Since the story is set in the 1960s, I go through various activities to help my students understand what life was like in the 1960s. We usually begin with a whole class discussion where students share anything that they know about the 1960s and we record contributions on the board.  As more students share their ideas, we begin to build a concept map where we attempt to categorize the contributions and make connections between ideas. When students begin to struggle, I use prompting questions to get them to discuss possible answers (e.g. “Do you think students had calculators in the 1960s?”).  Once we have had a great discussion, we work on two main activities:  group and individual presentations.

The group presentations are pretty straightforward: students work in small groups to create a multi-media presentation on one aspect of the 1960s in greater detail and then present it to the class.  We determine the topics for the presentations from the concept map we created during our discussion.  This year, our topics were: fashion, politics, entertainment, television, sports, music, cars, and technology.

The individual presentations integrate drama into Language Arts.  I had my students research influential people from the 1960s and each student had to choose one person to research more in-depth. To keep things interesting, no two students were allowed to research the same person.  Once they researched and chose an influential person from the 1960s, students were then to “become” this person and be interviewed on a talk show.  Students were given about three weeks to prepare for their interviews and they were to focus on content, costume/props, voice and delivery, gestures, and presentation.  I provided students with a graphic organizer to help them record their research and prepare for their presentations.

We had our talk show on Thursday and it was amazing! I wish I could share pictures to show you all the fantastic and creative costumes by students came up with!  This was such an engaging experience and both my students and I had a wonderful time and learned so much!

In case you are reading a novel with your students that is set in the 1960s, I have included the worksheet here for your use.  Just click on the link!

Wheels in Motion: A Fun Activity to Investigate Simple Machines and Linear Motion

Science is one of my favourite subjects to teach.  Although I love Language Arts, I really enjoy teaching math and science because students have so many opportunities to take part in fun, engaging, and educational activities that allow them to discover concepts and investigate different ideas.

As Elita previously mentioned, we have created another science unit to address the Ontario science curriculum when teaching a combined grade 4/5 class.

The following investigative activity is part of that unit, but it would be a great activity to use with students from grades 4-8 either as a way to introduce or review simple machines and motion.  I think it will be a fun way to review some key concepts with my grade eight students before we delve into systems in action and students design, build, test, and present their own devices.

In this activity, students will work in small groups to investigate both simple machines and linear movement.  The activity begins as a whole class activity where simple machines are discussed, to a small group investigation.  First, students will examine the car and layout of the experiment to investigate several simple machines. Next, in order to observe linear movement, the car will be allowed to travel down a ramp.  Finally, students will demonstrate how changes to the mass of the cart will then affect its linear movement.

Just click on the image below!

wheels in motion

Super Duper Donut Fun! Circle Investigations Using Donuts!

In a previous post, I mentioned how my students have been learning about the circumference and area of a circle.  We have been doing several activities in our math journals, completing math centres for extra practice, and reviewing for our test.  Since this has been a really fun unit and my students have been doing well, I decided to have a fun and rewarding end of unit activity.

We will be investigating the radius, diameter, circumference, and area of a circle by measuring donuts! The following booklet contains the teacher resource, student booklets (two versions using “donut” and “doughnut”), and donut images if you cannot or choose not to use actual donuts in the activity.

Click on the image below!

super duper donut badge

The Circumference and Area of a Circle: Student Learning Centres

When we return to school next week, my students and I will continue to explore the circumference and area of a circle.  We had begun to work on circumference prior to Christmas holidays and my students seem to be grasping the concepts well.  We did a GREAT activity in our math journals (I’ll post that soon) and that helped them to understand Pi, circumference, radius, diameter, and the circumference formula.  We will work on the area of a circle when we return.  After introducing the concept of area through a few math journal activities (more on the next week), we’re going to amalgamate, explore, and review these concepts through math centres.  I’ve created the following math centres to help students apply the skills and concepts they are learning about circles and have some extra practice activities.  Student worksheets are included in this package.

There are five math centres:

  • Reviewing the Circumference and Area of a Circle
  • Circumference Extra Practice
  • Area of a Circle Extra Practice
  • Calculating Radius and Diameter
  • Circumference and Area Word Problems

Students will take part in the following activities:

  • extra practice questions
  • practice using proper problem solving format (record given information from the question, formula, calculations, and final statement)
  • solving word problems
  • working backwards using algebra to determine the radius and diameter when given the area or circumference
  • developing their own word problems to trade and solve with a partner
  • review sheets to aid in recapping and studying

Just click on the image below!

circumference and area

P.E.E.L. Graphic Organizer to Help Students with Written Responses {FREEBIE!}

Right now we are working on the novel “Shakespeare’s Secret” by Elise Broach.  It’s a great novel filled with Shakespearean/Elizabethan history, references, and intrigue…but that’s not really the topic of this post.  As we read the novel, we work on various activities, one of which is chapter written responses.  I’m not a fan of a bunch of short answer questions for each chapter or a chapter synopsis, as I’d prefer to give my students 1 or 2 “meatier” questions to work on…something that would involve higher order thinking, analysis, and application.  The problem I have, however, is that a paragraph answer is too brief for this type of analysis, while a five paragraph essay is simply too long.  My solution is a one page response, but my students have some trouble determining a main idea and finding supporting details. Since I love the P.E.E.L. framework, I’ve created a simple graphic organizer to help them layout their main idea, supporting details, and text-based evidence. As I explained in a previous post, instead of including the “L” as a link to the next paragraph, we use “L” as linking to a connection (text-to-text, -to-self, or -to-world) and my students tend to prefer “explanation” then “evidence” in their writing (and I agree with them).

So, simply click on the image below for the free printable.  Students simply record their ideas in the chart and then write out their written response.

Would you like these PEEL posters for your classroom? Just click the image below! They’re FREE!

PEEL posters

Gr 4 Science Unit ~ Habitats and Communities

We have done it again! We have now compiled a complete unit for Habitats and Communities to help you in your Gr. 4 Understanding Life Science Strand.   This unit, just like our Combined Gr. 4/5 Science Unit for (Habitats … Continue reading →