Year in Review Middle School

So far this year has been great. My Middle School students have been doing such a great job. Our schedule at times has been hectic, but for the most part we have been productive. I thought I would share some of the memories over the past half-year, because I am really proud of what my students have been doing.

5th and 6th Graders

My 5th-6th graders this year started off the year with a great book by Theodore Taylor called The Cay. This is a great story set during World War II about how a blind white boy and a black man survive on a cay after their boat was torpedoed off the coast of Curacao, which is off the coast of Venezuela. They have quiet a few different adventures on this little island. This is a great read, and it introduces children to a different time period, and culture.

We did a few different activities in class. The one I think that stands out the most is the few days we made a steel-drum using some large cans from the cafeteria. We turned the cans over and on the bottom we pounded the cans down from the sides using a hammer. Each student helped out another student. After each student made the cans, we created drum sticks. To do this we used small dowel rods and cut them into 12 inch pieces. We drilled small holes on medium-sized super-bouncy balls, then placed the sticks inside the balls with a little glue. After that we painted our drums to look like they were from the Caribbean islands. They turned out great. We downloaded some real steel-drum band music to listen to and tried to create our own. We had a blast.

During the second quarter, we focused on independent studies. This was cool, just for the fact that each student could pick a topic that they were passionate about, or that they wanted to learn more about. Each student then created a PowerPoint presentation and one other presentation. Some students created a survey and calculated the statists from it. I had another write an interview with an other student who was portraying the person she studied. I had another student created a dance based of the musician he studied. The quarter went so fast, and the students did such a great job in their second presentations.

7th-8th Grades

For the first time, I did a unit on archeology. I have been wanting do this, and I thought it would be so much fun, and it was. We looked at the tools and methods of archeologist. We  compared how Howard Carter found King Tut’s tomb, and the processes he used to catalog everything he found with that of archeologists of today. We looked at various programs from the History Channel, and then we looked at Indiana Jones.

We did several different activities with this unit, but the coolest one that we did, I think, is we made our own tray of archeological artifacts to uncover. We took some artifacts that they brought from home, like key chains, coins, pins, and other things, and we buried them in pan that we mixed sand, water, and Elmer’s glue. We let it set for a week.

Each group was given some string, a ruler, and some toothpicks.  They had Then each group traded pans with another group. They used brushes and trowels to dig up the artifacts. Before they could dig anything they had measure 2 inch by 2 inch squares and use the string and toothpicks to measure it off. They were also given some graph paper and had to graph where they found each artifact. The students learned that archeology isn’t all glamour like Indiana Jones, instead it was more of a time-consuming process that had many steps.

I posted some of the pictures that day on my flickr photostream.  

The second quarter we also focused on independent studies.

I used the same form for both of my 5-6th and 7-8th grades that i got from the OAGC conference in October 2009. I sort of tweaked it. It worked out for the most part. I need to do some more tweaking to fit my style and fit the needs of my students.

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