Oh my goodness, this week was crazy! I felt like every day I went from dawn til dark without stopping…and then, when I crawled into bed I just didn’t have the energy in my tired fingers to type a blog post! (Insert big sigh and whiny voice here :) But this weekend has cured my sleepiness, and here I am on Sunday morning with a big mug o’ coffee and nimble, rested fingers ready for typing :)
Up first: SHARE IT FORWARD! Yes, my little Sunday tradition where I share something I have read, found, or used during the week. This week it is resources for Current Events.
Social Studies is often sorely overlooked in 4th grade because of all the other TAKS tested subject areas… so recently my team and I have decided to insert a little “Current Event” block into our schedule to keep our kids up-to-date about what’s going on in the world.
Through out the week we use http://www.dogonews.com/ to talk about current events and watch current event videos. Then on Friday we will use Flocabulary’s Week in Rap to look at things that happened around the world here is the Week in Rap from this week:
We watched the Week in Rap for the first time on Friday and my kids LOVED it. We had to watch it a twice and then we talked about all the events that were mentioned. It was only 10 minutes before lunch, but it sparked tons of good conversation. The Week in Rap is published each Friday and once you start showing it in your classroom your kids will beg you to watch it each week.
Note: Flocabulary also publishes other videos and they are all fantastic! Take a look at this rap about the 5 elements of a short story: Plot, characters, conflict, theme, setting –yes these are the 5 things that you’re gonna be needing when you’re reading or writing a short story that mad exciting! (trust me you will have this rap in your head!)
Since we are looking at measurement in relation to science and social studies, I also incorporated an activity dealing with temperatures around the world. Kids in the upper elementary grades are usually just starting to realize there is a world outside of themselves and they are very interested in learning about other places. When I researched websites for this activity I found the greatest resource: WunderMap. This map tool is so cool! It gives you current temperatures around the world. I used this Weblist to do both of these activities and I also have a video of how to use Wundermaps. Here are the two activities we did with it:
1. Temperatures Around the World.
I listed locations around the world and had the kids predict if they would be hotter or colder than the temperature here. They also had to list a reason for why they thought it would be hotter or colder. Some of their reasons were a little weak, such as “Hotter because China is hotter”, but even I had a hard time explaining my reasoning for my hypothesis!
2. What affects temperature.
The next temperature activity we did was an exploration of what affects world temperatures. For this activity I went over the key vocabulary: equator, coast, and elevation, then I let the kids explore the map again. They had a much more difficult time with this because I didn’t tell them the answer. Do you have this problem with your students? They always want you to tell them the right answer? We are working on “using our brains” to figure things out. It’s a tough lesson–to teach and learn! So anyway, this activity was more frustrating, and when I do it in the future I will preface it more clearly that this is a discovery, they might not discover the right answer, and that’s ok! The next day I went back to the maps and taught a lesson about the equator, coast and elevation. In the end they really “got it” and loved using Wundermaps.
Side note: When we talked about elevation I showed my kids pictures from when I hiked a mountain with my family this summer. I showed them how we had on short sleeves at the bottom, and by the time we got to the top there was snow! They loved this personal connection and if they forget what elevation is, I just say, “Remember when I hiked the mountain…”
ALSO, in our Storyworks magazine this week there was a story about Jordan Romero, the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest and they made the connection to elevation again…so many connections! My kids LOVED this story and there are lots of inspirational videos on YouTube about this amazing kid!