Using the “Sunshine” Doc to evaluate potential Topics

Friday’s VOLCANO doc is the first step in Topic Selection (determine if the theme applies). Today’s Sunshine doc is a more thorough evaluation of potential Topics.

  • Determines if Topic is older than 25 years (actually history, not current event).
  • Location of topic (must be Chicago/Illinois event).
  • Topic is significant – it changed something, has an effect.
  • Relates to Theme
  • Student Interest in the topic should be high!
  • Demands interpretation – can it be argued differently by different people? This one is key. If your topic is fact (ex: “the sun is hot”), there is no interpretation. If your topic has different points of view (ex: “change climate conditions are the result of human activity”), this can be argued and debated with a variety of resources. You want the later.
  • Abundance of sources… if you’re not tripping over books, sites, and (valid) search results, this might be too difficult to study for History Fair.

Students and I will begin this topic evaluation today. I need 3 completed forms by Thursday (I have plenty in my room) to make sure students head to the  Chicago History Museum with some sense of what they’re studying.

PDF Version here: sunshine-doc-history-fair-topic-filter

Using the NHD Volcano Form to Find a Topic

As we begin the process of selecting a topic, the first step is making sure it’s EXPLOSIVE! We used this sheet, courtesy of the folks at National History Day, to evaluate if a topic has identifiable leaders, change, and opposition. For a topic to fit the NHD theme and our class design, it has to run through this VOLCANO sheet. We want HOT TOPICS! EXPLOSIVE CHANGE! (kids love these terrible dad jokes)

Students used the Chicago History Museum’s Facing Freedom resources as a test run. Through this process, we realize not every topic results in a “complete” VOLCANO form. Sometimes, they leave us with more Historical Questions, which is exactly where a student historian is born. Questions are the lifeblood of this process, and a few blanks on this document might be okay if they’re replaced with Questions which drive further research.

For now, we’re “Topic Shopping” and trying to find a few things we’re really interested in (including those not on “the list”).  Three or four topics is a good start for this week.


Student Post: Applying the Multiple Intelligences

The Multiple Intelligences Quiz is a set of statements that describe daily activities and thoughts. You rate these statements based on how much or how little you relate to them. When you finish the quiz, you are given percentages of each of the eight intelligences. The ones with the most percents are the ones that you should apply to your daily life and habits.

  • Linguistic- of or relating to language
  • Logical Mathematical- the ability to perform complex mathematical or logical operations
  • Visual spatial- you learn visually
  • Intrapersonal- internal use of language or thought
  • Interpersonal- relationship or communication between people
  • Musical- the ability to demonstrate music
  • Body-Kinesthetic – use their body to express themselves and are often athletic
  • Naturalistic- you are interested in nature and the natural world

We decided to ask a few people what their top 3 Intelligences were and ask them how they related to their personality.

Person A Linguistic, Naturalistic, and Musical
Person B Linguistic, Visual-Spatial, and Body-Kinesthetic
Person C Linguistic, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal
Ashley James Musical, Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical
Katie Steffgen Visual-Spatial, Logical-Mathematical, and Linguistic

Person A says that their personality relates to the Musical Intelligence because she loves to play in band and sing in music. Person A’s Naturalistic Intelligence relates to their personality because she loves spending time outdoors, whether it’s for enjoyment or for a sport. Finally, The Linguistic Intelligence relates to their personality because they read a lot and enjoy writing as well.

Person B says that their personality relates to the Linguistic Intelligence because they read very much, are very smart in English, and also a good writer. They relate to the Visual-Spatial Intelligence because they like to learn by drawing things and looking at and observing things. They think that the Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence relates to their personality because they are very athletic and is in a sport each season, and are physically active each day. They also tend to express their emotions physically.

Person C says that their personality relates to Linguistic because they read books and finishes series in nearly a week, and is very advanced in English and Language Arts. Their Intrapersonal Intelligence also relates to her passion in reading and writing. Their Interpersonal Intelligence relates to their personality as well because they know how to start conversations and make people feel comfortable when talking to them.

Ashley says that her personality relates to Musical because she always incorporates music into her daily life. Whether it’s singing in the shower, dancing in the grass, or playing her instrument at practice she can relate a lot to music. She can relate to Linguistic because she is taking Spanish this year and she likes to read. She also likes to write and is very advanced in English and Language Arts.  She thinks that Logical-Mathematical relates to her because she is really good at complex problems. She is in the advanced math this year and can think logically.

Katie says her personality relates to the Visual-Spatial Intelligence because she learns best by studying, observing, creating and drawing things. She relates to the Logical-Mathematical Intelligence by thinking logically and with reason. Lastly, her personality relates to the Linguistic Intelligence because she reads nearly every day and loves it. She also is good at English and writing and knows a lot about the subject.

Screenshot 2016-09-02 at 10.57.18 AM.png

These were the overall results for all the of the 7th graders. The top three results were Interpersonal, Visual-Spatial, and Logical-Mathematical. In conclusion, we think that the Multiple Intelligences really help in your daily life and that you should use them on a daily basis.

By Katie Steffgen and Ashley James

Growth Mindset & Goal Setting

Today we introduced the Growth Mindset concept with our 7th graders. Psychologist Carol Dweck developed this theory (and published a book of the same name), and the central concept is using failure as a catalyst to learning. With a fixed mindset, students see intelligence as a static, permanent quality and become risk-averse in the classroom. The growth mindset encourages students to see learning as a journey, embracing struggle as feedback to inform their learning. Here’s Dweck talking about her theory.

As teachers, one of our most important jobs is nurturing this mindset. Effective teachers have been doing it long before Dweck spelled it out, and her theory seems to validate the practice of feedback and encouragement. Teaching students self-awareness also aligns with Illinois’ new social emotional learning standards, and the feedback students get provides them with valuable opportunities to grow (which also mirror the predominant framework for teaching most schools use).

Back to our classroom. We’re putting Dweck’s mindset into place by using goals. Students took a few tests to see how well they know state locations and their capitals. After introducing students to Multiple Intelligences, we provided them with a few ways to practice using those strengths. Students set goals, created a plan, and predicted possible obstacles. We’ll use these “Goals to Grow” throughout the year to help develop students’ growth mindset.

Practice Games for American Geography

Use these games to practice as you improve your score. Can you speculate (guess) what Multiple Intelligence these videos may relate to?

The Most Popular (amongst parents, too): Name all 50 states as fast as you can.

Geoguesser: use geography and the natural landscape to guess where google streetview has taken you.

Play Quizizz with a group of friends. A simple “states and capitals” search will give you a ton of results to sort through. Try one!

Maybe you can make a song or dance to remember them!

Or draw them out?

This is by National Geographic, and you can test your knowledge of all countries, continents and states/provinces throughout the world.

Finally, a completely new game that not only requires identification of a state, but also asks you to type in the capital name, too.

And if you’re not having an easy time thinking “you can do it,” check out this kid. Many of you lose any valid excuse when a kid can’t even dress himself knows all his states and capitals. 

Update: A bunch of new games students have found:

Summer of ’16

I’ve always taken pride in using my summer vacation to learn and improve as an educator. The summer of 2016 may have been my favorite year doing so. Here are a few things I experienced, and what I bring back to my classroom as a result.

National History Day // Tommy became Lakeview’s first NHD finalist back in May, and we spent a week in June traveling to DC and the University of Maryland. While celebratory in nature, I was able to meet some talented educators and was immersed in a culture of student enthusiasm for history. The contacts I made have already begun to bring great ideas back to my classroom and reinvigorated my excitement for teaching student research.

Back to School // I began taking courses in January toward my second Master’s degree, one in school leadership (Concordia University). This degree has already been more difficult than my first degree (Reading Specialist) and has forced me to evaluate my own instructional practices. I’m excited to teach with a fresh perspective of what is effective, not to mention bring some new tools to student learning that come through this process.

NHD Website Course // Building websites has always been a challenge during History Fair. I began taking a course this summer which puts me in the student’s position, researching and building a website as students do in my classroom. It’s always nice to live an assignment through the role of a student as I imagine ways to improve that experience.

Teacher Advisory Committee // The Leadership of the Chicago Metro History Fair has kindly included me in this leadership committee. While I have input regarding the History Fair contests, the friendships I’ve made with some of Chicagoland’s best educators has been exciting. We also took an afternoon to travel to UIC’s Daley Library to explore their special collections and conduct some research ourselves.

Googlepalooza // This is an in-house conference for CPS teachers that I was lucky enough to sneak into! Googlepalooza was two days of hands-on exploration of GAFE (Google Apps for Education) and working with teachers who have used GAFE to streamline assessing and learning in their classroom. Again, a treasure trove of information to improve how I teach student historians at Lakeview.