Researching Chicago

Today we begin our newest research project:

As stated in the letter above, our goals are two-fold and simple:

  1. Develop our Research Skills.
  2. Teach the class about a facet of Chicago history and culture.

For general historical information, photos and facts:

For information on skyscrapers, buildings and landmarks:

For information on the 77 different neighborhoods of Chicago:

Detailed Photographs:
or try searching here:

A Timeline of Chicago’s History:

Alphabetical Listing of Landmarks and Skysrapers, Past and Present:


Homework, 10/19

As a reminder:

Students are writing summaries of Chicago’s early history (origins).  They should show mastery of this information, knowing how events and inventions relate to one another (without dates) and identifying at least 10 events or pieces of Chicago history to write about.

The main resource should be your movie notes, re-organized notes and mind-map work.  You should be able to easily recall 10 facts regarding Chicago’s origins.

Mind Mapping Update

After reorganizing our notes, we’ve spent the last 2 days drawing out Chicago’s Origins.  Students may bring them home today, but they will have class time to complete them.  They should be complete tomorrow, and then we will do an activity to wrap up our learning of the Origins and Early History.

Here is one student’s work in progress (Vaishnavi P.):


Reorganizing, Categorizing Notes

Last week was an odd one.  I blogged about what we were doing in class (PBS series “City of the Century”) with instructional plans.  Then I had to be away from the classroom for 2.5 days.  Sort of threw our plan off, but the object remains: we have collected data – more than planned, making this easier! – and will reorganize it into the following categories:

  • People
  • Ideas
  • Inventions
  • Industry
  • Skyscrapers
  • Environment
  • Settlers/Explorers
  • Food
  • Immigrants
  • Transportation
  • Interesting Facts
  • Gross/Disgusting Facts

Students are to select 4-6 of these topics, then reorganize their notes into each topic.  Ideally, they should have as many as 10 facts for each topic.  Then, we’ll move to mind mapping.

Like building skyscrapers taught us, it is IMPOSSIBLE to draw a mind map without proper organization and planning.  Today and tomorrow we will do just that – reorganize our collected data to make it easier to understand and see.  Therefore, our mind maps will be visually beautiful, creative, easy to read, and organize Chicago’s origins.

Mind Mapping Chicago

Mind maps (or word webs) are excellent ways for students to organize terms and information.  Especially when so much of it is being given.  As students are mastering these words, they can organize them into relevant categories.  Through the week, we’ll be mind mapping Chicago.

Understanding Chicago’s origins is a sometimes challenging thing for 12/13 year olds.  It’s filled with great feats, contversey, and the violence and corruption that they all love.  However, everything is new.  They don’t know that Odgen isn’t just a street, but the first Mayor of Chicago.  Or that the Hubbard Street Dance Company takes their name from the street named after one of Chicago’s “founding fathers.”

To organize our new information, we’ll chart it over the next 2 days.  Then we’ll clarify what all of our terms mean, organize them chronologically, do some writing to bring it all together, and then be able to map it all in a creative, beautiful – and easy to understand – fashion.   And much of this information will come from PBS’ excellent series, American Experience, “City of the Century.” It’s by no means comprehensive, but its Chicago origins story is perfect for our 7th graders.

Speaking of Twitter, I picked up a great site, coincidentally, that has some great examples.  It is, and is student-appropriate and an excellent inspiration, like the one below:

Mind Map 0 Fun

Petitions to the King

We’ve read this week how the Declaration came to be, through a series of events proving peace was no longer an option, and military events that filled the Americans with confidence.  Before we go headlong into the Declaration for the next week, it’s important to know how we got here.   To do that, we’ve read pages 168- 173, completed 1-14 on this Vocab Chart, a Guided Reading WS, and are in the process of completing a newspaper article that explains how these events inspired Revolution.

Today’s homework is simple: write a newspaper article that describes a historical event and explains why that event is so inspiring.  Students should have a 5-7 word headline (something attention grabbing), write at least 200 words, and include a drawn picture (no web pics).  The article should cover the Declaration of Independence, Green Mountain Boys, Lexington and Concord, or the Battle of Bunker Hill.