Additional/Updated Resources

Some general info that might be helpful for researching Chicago:

  1. Search specific names of buildings, people, or other research topics. Big themes like “Magnificent Mile” search a broader amount of sites, and bring bad results for you. Narrow the search field to get more specific and useful results.
  2. Google/Bing/Ask are the last resort. Use the IMC’s resources (EBSCO host, GALE Virtual Library, and World Book Online).

The following resources may be helpful for those with the following, more challenging topics:

Chicago Artists:

Corruption in Chicago:

Magnificent Mile:

Chicago Food:

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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:
http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/
or
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761576998/Chicago_(city_Illinois).html
or
http://library.thinkquest.org/CR0215480/
or
http://www.chicagohistory.org
or
http://www.lib.depaul.edu/eresource/subject_search_infotype.asp?TopicID=141&SubjectID=13

For information on skyscrapers, buildings and landmarks:
http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/ci/bu/sk/li/?id=101030&bt=2&ht=2&sro=1
or
http://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?cityID=4
or
http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/faculty/erics/web/arcchicago.html

For information on the 77 different neighborhoods of Chicago:
http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us/
or
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_neighborhoods

Detailed Photographs:
http://digicol.lib.depaul.edu/site-templates/client_LPNC1/index.html
or
http://www.picturingchicago.com/
or try searching here:
http://images.google.com/imghp?tab=il

A Timeline of Chicago’s History:

http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/chihist.html

Alphabetical Listing of Landmarks and Skysrapers, Past and Present:

http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/List.html

A Little Textbook Project…

I’d like to keep you in the loop regarding our classwork this week and next. As we’ve studied the Age of Exploration, we’ve found that our Textbook is missing lots of (colorful!) information, is generally very poorly organized, and just isn’t very fun to read. As our culminating activity/assessment, we are rewriting our textbook in a fashion that interests students, not to mention contains some better information and learning tools.

As all projects, this will have benchmarks and requirements. Watch the gradebook (as well as your inboxes & this blog) for updates on how the kids are doing. In the mean time, you can see their work in progress here. We’re collaborating as an entire 7th grade, with all students sharing the research, editing, and formatting of this “textbook.” Through creating the text, the visuals, and the end-of-section questions and activities, our students are going to show a far better mastery of the Age of Exploration than any test would. As I’ve told the kids, this is a fun project, something I’ve never done before. I haven’t been so excited for a project in a while… which is saying something, since I’m usually a little too enthusiastic :)

Students have been reminded – and will be constantly through this project – the practices of good research they’ve learned in my class and others. Libraries come first – books are good! – as they contain mountains of information specific to the Age of Exploration that’s far easier to navigate than the web. Libraries also make it easier to locate maps and images that may be scanned and put into the “textbook” we’re creating. After that, National Geographics are great (I have some in my room), as well as reliable web sources listed on my blogroll to the right. Wikipedia is okay, so long as students follow the links at the bottom of any wikipedia entry.

If anyone forgets the passwords to any web source (including our wordpress.com blog), please e-mail me and I’ll share them with you. It’s simply a violation of our terms with those sites to post them on the web.

Studying Chicago

The Chicago Skyline, Looking South

This is one of our most fun units, one that gets our students families involved as much as the students.  After all, many of us are experts in some way on Chicago.  You know the neighborhoods better, know some great story or legend that few others know, and share with your kids the perspective you have on the city.  While I’ll try to do similiar things in 3 short weeks, I encourage you all to get as involved as you’d like.

This unit is largely based on 3 components:

  1. The Chicago Project (student driven).
  2. Mini-Lessons on Chicago (teacher lead).
  3. Chicago Essay Test (climatic!).

The Chicago Project is easily the most famous of our projects in 7th grade, for better or worse.  It includes 2 great options – building a skyscraper or making a scrapbook of a visit to Chicago.  In addition, I’m adding a few new options that students should love: a 3D poster/map and creating a story in poem/song/rap/story/pop-up book/skit/video form.  This project may be done alone, with a partner, or in a group of 3 or 4 students.

My mini-lessons will be school as usual, but in 15-20 minute doses.  This allows us to use 10 days or so to cover each topic (partially listed below), then gives the remaining time to students to work on their projects.  This will also be the basis of the Essay Test.

The Essay Test is a simple way to assess what we’ve learned through our lessons, our own projects, and other projects.  Students will need to construct a basic “social studies essay” that is 5 paragraphs – an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.  We’ll do some prep work for this; watch for more info to come.  In summary, though, the 3 body paragraphs will be on any of the topics we cover in class (1 paragraph each) to support a main them.  The topics we’ll cover:

  1. History
  2. People
  3. Neighborhoods
  4. Government
  5. Architecture
  6. Culture (Music, Art, Literature, Theater, Movies, Sports)
  7. Inventions & Ideas
  8. Historic Events
  9. Future of Chicago
  10. Unique oddities of Chicago (tri-level streets, street number system, the great Flag of Chicago, etc.)

And a big question (or theme) that students will have to answer (these are the basic instructional goals of our unit):

  1. Is Chicago a great city?
  2. How has Chicago grown so quickly?
  3. Should Chicago host the 2016 Olympic Games?
  4. Is Chicago a diverse city?
  5. Has anything important ever come from Chicago?

I think that’s enough for an introduction to Chicago.  Hopefully you can “feel” my excitement for this unit of study.  It gets all of us involved and brings out the experts in all of us, as we all are experts in some way on Chicago.

UPDATE: Here is today’s (Mon, 12/1) homework assignment, the Navigating Chicago WS.

Web Resources for Chicago Project

Use these – not google!

For general historical information, photos and facts:
http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/
or
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761576998/Chicago_(city_Illinois).html
or
http://library.thinkquest.org/CR0215480/
or
http://www.chicagohistory.org
or
http://www.lib.depaul.edu/eresource/subject_search_infotype.asp?TopicID=141&SubjectID=13

For information on skyscrapers, buildings and landmarks:
http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/ci/bu/sk/li/?id=101030&bt=2&ht=2&sro=1
or
http://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?cityID=4
or
http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/faculty/erics/web/arcchicago.html

For information on the 77 different neighborhoods of Chicago:
http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us/
or
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_neighborhoods

Detailed Photographs:
http://digicol.lib.depaul.edu/site-templates/client_LPNC1/index.html
or
http://www.picturingchicago.com/
or try searching here:
http://images.google.com/imghp?tab=il

A Timeline of Chicago’s History:

http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/chihist.html

Alphabetical Listing of Landmarks and Skysrapers, Past and Present:

http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/List.html

Below is the Powerpoint used to launch the project. Students should know what they are doing when they come home Monday.