Monday, March 30, 2015

100 Ways of Teaching Geography

After view a slideshow about 100 different ways to teaching geography, I have selected the 10 ideas that I like best and would like to share them!

1. Google Earth- A students selects a piece of paper at random from a hat, bucket, etc.  The paper has a destination, location, landmark, or city on it.  The whole class "flies" there through Google Earth.

2. The 60 Second Film - Students summarize a concept in a 60 second short film.  This enables students to be creative and to convey the knowledge they have learned in a nontraditional way.

3. Newspaper Mapping - Students bring in newspaper articles about a geographical area that they are interested in.  The articles are displayed on a world map and later discussed.

4. Sing It- Have students change the lyrics of a nursery rhyme to fit an issue or the development of a physical feature. 

5. Montage a Google - Created by Grant Robinson, can be used to create a montage of Google images representing a topic, region, destination, ,etc.  This image can be used to introduce the lesson, activate prior knowledge, or sum up a lesson.

6. Warm Up Maps - Students draw lines to connect specific places to there location on a map.  Can be used as a warm up activity.

7. Dizzy Direction - Students have to turn to face the correct wall when the compass direction is called out by the teacher.  

8. Atlas Race - Students race to put their finger on the place that is called in their atlas.  

9. Throw a Globe - Students toss an inflatable globe to one another to answer questions that are asked.  The student who catches the globe answers the question.

10. GeoTube - Geography videos on YouTube.

To check out some of the other ideas click HERE!

Making History Fun and Exciting for Students

I have just been introduced to two totally awesome tools that can be used in the classroom to make learning history more exciting and engaging for students!  

The first tool is from the National Archives Docs Teach.  This website is fantastic!  It allows a teacher to use tons of primary source information in a creative, engaging, and thought provoking way!  You can browse through already created activities, or create your own using the primary source documents available through the National Archives.

Check out this video which explains what Docs Teach is!

Another tool is the QR Treasure Hunt.  A QR Treasure Hunt allows students to use smartphones or iPads to scan QR codes throughout the classroom, at home, around the school, or really wherever because they can be printed right onto paper!  The students scan the QR codes and immediately are taken to a website or document that you want them to view to find information to answer a question.  This is a great way to get students moving around the classroom and using technology in a creative way!

Check out this video that talks a little more about using QR codes!

The Five Themes of Geography

There are five different essential themes when teaching geography:

1. Location - location can be absolute or relative.  Absolute location means that there is a definite 
reference in which to locate a place, such as latitude and longitude or a street address.  Relative location is used to describe a place in relation to its environment and its connection to other places. 

2. Place - a place describes the human and physical characteristics of a location.  Physical characteristics are things such as mountains, rivers, beaches, etc.  The human characteristics are things like the religions, food, transportation, architecture, and other cultural features.

3. Human-Environment Interaction - how humans can adapt and change the environment in both positive and negative ways.

4. Movement - movement and migration across the planet for many reasons

5. Region - regions divide the world into smaller units for geographic study.  The units have similar characteristics that unify the area.  

Check out this video to learn more!

Rosenberg, M. (2015).  "The five themes of geography" on Retrieved from

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Celebration of Learning

Last night we had our celebration of learning for completing our fieldwork experience at Bishop Dunn Memorial School in Newburgh, New York.  It has been a great experience an one that I am thankful to have been able to participate in.  I have learned so much about the different types of lesson plans and have been given the opportunity to write various lesson plans and put them into action.  Although this has been a challenging experience, it has given me a real taste of what having my own classroom will be like.  

You can see a slide show of some of the projects we completed as a class in fieldwork and hear the reflections of myself and my colleagues.

What's it to you?

You can check out our presentation about incorporating current events into the classroom through the activity What's it to you?

Here are my thoughts about using current events in the classroom and the NewsELA site... enjoy!

This semester I was introduced to a website called NewsELA.  NewsELA contains nonfiction literacy and current event articles that can be accessed by students.  NewsELA contains articles that range from topics such as War and Peace, Kids, Sports, Health, etc.  The articles on NewsELA can be read in different levels which enable them to be used across a wide range of grade levels and student abilities.  Additionally, teachers can assign articles to be read at home or in school and can assign quizzes or writing assignments to be done right on the NewsELA website.
There are many reasons to teach current events in the classroom.  According to Wise Owl Kids (n.d.) teaching current events in the classroom is important because it enables students to become more conscious of the world around them and understand how world events impact them as citizens.  Additionally, providing students with information about current events allows them to become more active participants in their community.  Hopkins (2010) indicates that there is a large amount of research that supports using current events in the classroom.  He suggests that newspapers allow students to become better readers, increase their awareness and interest in current events, and develop and improve reading comprehension, vocabulary, and word recognition skills (Hopkins, 2010).  According to Hopkins (2010) another added benefit of teaching current events in the classroom and having students read the newspaper is that it increases the likelihood that students will continue to read the newspaper as adults.  Furthermore, DeRoche (1991) suggests that using newspapers and current event articles in the classroom will foster a positive attitude for reading non-fictional material and increase standardized test scores.  
There are many ways to incorporate current events activities into the classroom.  Wise Owl Kids (n.d.) suggests multiple activities that can be used in the classroom to incorporate current events.  Some of the activities suggested by Wise Owl Kids (n.d.) include identifying why a particular article is considered news, identifying the five W’s, identifying facts and opinions, and many more.  One great aspect of NewsELA over traditional newspapers is that the articles on NewsELA are student friendly, the difficulty of the article can be altered to meet each student’s ability, students can access the same article at home and at school, NewsELA incorporates technology in the classroom, and note taking and comments can be make directly on the article in NewsELA.  Furthermore, teaching current events in the classroom can be directly tied to the New York State Common Core State Standards for ELA and Social Studies. 
I will definitely incorporate current events into my future classroom through the use of sites like NewsELA, similar websites, or traditional newspaper and magazine articles.  Using current events is a great way to allow students to connect with what is happening within our community and the world as a whole while promoting literacy in the classroom.  NewsELA is a fantastic website because it allows an articles difficulty level to be changed so that all students may read the article on a level that is suitable for them.  It was helpful to use NewsELA and see all of the great opportunities the website has.  There is an abundance of different articles that can appeal to many interest levels and allow students to find articles that they are interested in without having to look in traditional newspapers that may or may not have information that is not sensitive enough for younger students to view.  I was very impressed with NewsELA and all that the site has to offer.  I am thankful to be able to have gotten the opportunity to access and utilize the site this semester.  However, I do feel that just reading the articles and taking a quiz or completing a short writing assignment is not enough to really utilize the article in the classroom.  I think that using the article in discussions or other activities as suggested on Wise Owl Kids is a better way to use the articles from NewsELA in a literary way in the classroom, as well as a great way to get students engaged in current events and what is happening in our society.
I am grateful that I have been exposed to NewsELA and the Wise Owl Kids website containing different activities and creative ways to incorporate current event articles in the classroom.  In regards to using NewsELA in future social studies methods classes, I would not use the quiz and writing option on the articles.  I feel that this is not the best way to allow us at graduate students to learn new strategies for incorporating current events into the classroom.  I am a strong proponent that only reading and answering questions is not the best way to promote higher order thinking and learning.  I did enjoy creating the PowerPoint presentation highlighting a way to utilize NewsELA with activities, however, only reading and answering questions online was not beneficial.  Therefore, I will be sure to adhere to the five principles of teaching and learning as identified by the National Council for the Social Studies which are essential to a social studies program.  These principles state that social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are meaningful, integrative, value-based, challenging, and active (National Council for the Social Studies).  In order to provide a powerful social studies experience to students, it is imperative that these principles be followed.  By providing students with a meaningful experience that is integrative, challenging, active, and based on value, students are able to make connections, activate their prior knowledge, and gain a deeper understanding of what they are learning.  Therefore, I will be sure to incorporate these principles when designing my activities and lessons for current events.  After completing this process, I will definitely use current events and engaging activities to implement social studies learning in my future classroom.     

DeRoche, E. F. (1991).  The newspaper: A reference book for teachers and librarians.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Inc.

Hopkins, G. (2010).  Why teach current events? Education World, Retrieved April 2, 2015 from

National Council for the Social Studies. (n.d.) Principles of teaching and learning.  Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies.  Retrieved March 20, 2015 from

Newsela | Nonfiction Literacy and Current Events. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from

Wise Owl Kids. (n.d.) Current events. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from

Current Events in the Classroom

I recently completed a project in which a partner and myself had to create a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating how we would incorporate current events into our future social studies classroom.  We chose to use the "What's it to you?" activity from News Owl Kids.  In our graduate class, we were also given access to a website called NewsELA.  If you have not heard of NewsELA I highly suggest you check it out!  The videos below explains more about NewsELA and how it can be used.

Stay tuned to see our presentation and my reflection about my experiences with NewsELA and thoughts about using current events in the classroom!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Authentic Instruction

According to the Annenberg Learner, there are four elements of authentic instruction:

Higher order thinking which stimulates critical thinking.
Depth of knowledge which encourages comprehensive learning.
Real-world connections with teach application of concepts.
Social support which proves encouragement and inclusion.

For this assignment I viewed a video which showed four different teachers using authentic instruction.  I was able to view these teachers as they used questioning and discussion stimulate critical thinking.  Depth of knowledge as one teacher taught the abstract and complex idea of the Earth revolving around the sun to very young students using a demonstration and an activity in which students could participate in the demonstration.  Students helped their neighbor to understanding difficult concepts and worked in small groups in other video segments.  One teacher used real-world connections as he activated students' prior knowledge and made connections to what they were learning in class.  

Authentic instruction is an excellent teaching strategy to use.  It provides students with a more concrete understanding of the concepts and tasks are they are encouraged to use higher order thinking, deepen their knowledge and understanding, connect what they are learning to the real world, and have the support of their classmates in completing tasks.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Thoughts on My Fieldwork Experience

Now that my groups fieldwork teaching experience is finished, I would like to take a minute to think about all that we have accomplished and how that will affect my future as a teacher.  This fieldwork experience was extremely challenging and I feel that I am so much more prepared for my future career now.  First off, in my opinion this fieldwork was the most similar experience to teaching I have had during fieldwork thus far.  It was great getting to plan three different types of lessons and to put those lessons to the test, so to speak.  We had to work together as a team to come up with ideas and ways to introduce the material to the students in the after school program.  Some of our ideas were great, and others were not.  However, it was a learning experience and one that I am for the better for having completed.  I also was able to learn so much from watching other groups teach their lessons and was able to get so many more ideas to use in my future teaching.  I cannot wait to get out there and be a teacher!  I would like to thank Dr.Smirnova for pushing us to be our very best!

Formative Teaching and Instruction

I recently read an article and watched a video about using exit tickets for formative teaching and instruction.  The use of exit tickets is a great way for a teacher to gain an understanding about how the students are grasping the content from the lesson.  Exit tickets should not be something that students do as they are running out the door, but rather something that is used during class to assess student understanding.  The exit tickets will help teachers understand where the students are and will enable teacher's to adjust their lessons accordingly.  Additionally, students know that exit tickets are just checks for understanding for the teacher, and therefore, they are not high anxiety causing tests or report cards grades.  This allows the students to feel more relaxed about the exit tickets.  Formative teaching and instruction through the use of in class assessments with exit tickets is something that I will definitely use in my future classroom

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Democratic Classroom

You may be asking yourself what classroom democracy is and why is it necessary?  After reading "Young Citizens: Partners in Classroom Management" by Devon Metzger, I feel that I have a better understanding how to create a democratic classroom and why it is important to develop informed and responsible decision making students.  By having students become partners in classroom management, you can foster an ability in your students to assume control over their behavior.  In this way, students are taking responsibility for their own actions in the classroom.  By allowing students to be a part of determining the classroom rules and procedures, you are giving students the power to discuss what actions and behaviors they feel are necessary in order to have a positive and successful classroom environment.  According to Metzger, "citizenship education thus occurs when a teacher works with students as partners in developing a positive learning community (in contrast to imposing a system to control them)."

Check out this video which talks a little more about the importance of a democratic classroom. 



Metzger, Devon. “Young Citizens: Partners in Classroom Management.” National Council for the Social Studies. Used with permission. Retrieved from

How to Develop Deeper Understanding in Your Classroom

As a teacher, I will always strive to find ways to have my students develop a deeper understanding of what we are learning.  In order for students to develop a deeper understanding they have to move beyond knowledge of a topic.  When a student has knowledge of a topic they may be able to recall specific facts or demonstrate a specific skill.  However, when a student has a deeper understanding they can explain, find evidence, provide examples, generalize, apply, and represent information in a new way (Perkins & Blythe).  

Teachers can create learning activities that allow students to make connections, activate their schema,  and make new connections.  Teachers need to create activities in which students can demonstrate their understanding, and therefore, deepen their understanding and make generalizations.


Perkins, David and Tina Blythe. “Putting Understanding Up Front. Educational Leadership. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Used with permission. Retrieved from