Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thursday Throwdown...a week late!

One reflection, one observation:

1) I know I haven't blogged in a while, but not since November???

2) I'm making myself feel better by pretending that I'm doing the Thursday Throw Down via Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit a day early. Even though participating LAST Wednesday would have been a day early.

I still have a lot of reflecting to do on the inquiry-based learning/teaching & CCSS work we engaged in September - December, but for tonight, I'll just go with the Throw Down!

Erin's Throw Down entry for this month is on Interactive Research Papers!  I went ahead and bought her new Interactive Research Papers & Essays for Common Core Writing product; I wanted to see how she approaches research with her students & I trust her work.  I haven't perused it yet...I did a little grading over break, but mostly I cleaned/sorted/organized our house (four loads to Goodwill!!) I will soon; I anticipate lots of great ideas!

Anyway, after two marvelous "cold days" here in Minnesota, we finally started back up today after a two week winter break.  Our topic: 1920s and 30s research.

Several things: 1) We do all the work online. Kids get information from online databases, make citations, note cards, and their outlines in Noodle Tools, and write their papers in Collab (our district's Google Docs.) Have you used Noodle Tools before?  It rocks!!

2) We focus on the 20s and 30s to prepare for the literature to come--Witness by Karen Hesse which is set in the 20s & Holocaust literature.  Also, students in 7th grade at our school will be studying WW! for the next two weeks and then moving into the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, and then WWII.

3) We make it very clear to our kiddos that this is NOT a biography/famous person report. We work hard with them on thesis writing. The focus is how the person or event they choose had an impact on the world during the 20s or 30s.  I'll talk about that in my next post: topic choices, research questions, thesis statements & what mastery looks like.

In the meantime, and for this interactive Thursday Throw Down, I want to link to two things that I used today.

1) A quick sheet on how to create a Noodle Tools account. It is specific to our middle school, but feel free to copy/paste and insert your school's name.  Click here to view it on Google Docs.

2) Before the students head into research of their own, we are practicing citations and note cards on Noodle using Louis Armstrong information from Biography in Context. Click here to view my Citation Practice assignment on Google Docs. It is specific to Biography in Context, which is a research database our district subscribes to, but I hope that even if you don't have it as a resource, you get some good ideas from the practice assignment.

Let me know if you have questions on the docs.  It's my first time sharing like this; hopefully the technology works with me :)

I am at our district office all day  tomorrow for an ELA Lead Teacher meeting, but Friday, I'm trying out note taking practice between Biography in Context and Noodle Tools. I'll let you know how that goes...before March :)

All the best in the new year!!