Showing posts from 2013

Name That Executive Role!

Students today learned about the many roles of the head of the Executive Branch, the President of the United States. I found several images of former Presidents in these roles--can you guess which is which? Post your answers below or email them to me.


Commander-In-ChiefChief ExecutivePolitical Party HeadChief Diplomat

1. President Eisenhower

2. President George HW Bush (on the right side of the picture)
3. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
4. President Reagan meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (this one's a bit of a giveaway!)

50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination

We spent a few minutes today discussing the impact the Kennedy assassination had on America and in the 1960s. Students in middle school have little knowledge of 20th century history, I try to incorporate it into class as much as possible.

"Step Inside" Artwork Activity

Students used their understanding of the events surrounding the Battle of Trenton today and "stepped inside" an iconic painting of George Washington. Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) by Emanuel Leutz is one of the most famous images of George Washington and a wonderful subject for my fellow historians to analyze in class. Students thought about the beliefs and concerns of the people (or even objects!) in the painting and this examination deepened their knowledge of  the importance of the battle and of Washington's leadership. I am looking forward to our discussion of this activity next week.
(Students: share the "triangles" with your parents!) :) For more information:

"Common Sense" and the Declaration of Independence

Historical documents are one of the most important resources for learning History. The complex language in many of these documents can make understanding them a challenge, however. The historians in my 8th Grade US History classes have done several activities with two very important documents, with success. 

My students have studied Thomas Paine's "Common Sense", one of the most persuasive writings for the fight for American freedom and the Declaration of Independence, a document that formally stated the colonists' move to separate themselves from England. These documents are complex but we studied them and wrote parts of both in modern language. Processing activities allowed students to analyze the works, as well.

"Headlines" Activity

Students spent some time this week learning about changes in colonial America during the time of the French and Indian War by completing a graphic organizer web. After the webs were complete students had to create a headline to summarize and synthesize their learning. We discussed the role a headline plays in a newspaper story and examined actual headlines from the newspaper before starting the assignment.

The students should be very proud of their work and we will be using this thinking routine throughout the year.


I'd like to welcome my students and parents to an exciting year! This blog will highlight the classroom activities we will be doing throughout the year as well as discuss current events and historical happenings. Thank you for following this blog and I look forward to what's in store!

Mrs. Slaviero

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Happy Summer! Today marks a special anniversary--it's the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, culminating in Martin Luther King Junior's "I Have a Dream" speech.  Many people have traveled to Washington, DC to commemorate this moment in our nation's history. Here is the official event link:

Civil War Think-Puzzle-Explore

Beginning a unit of study about something well-known, like the US Civil War, can be challenging for students. Many may feel very knowledgable about the topic and it can be somewhat intimidating for those that don't know a lot to keep up, at least at first. I began our Civil War unit today hoping to bridge the gap between these two groups of students by having them complete a group "Think-Puzzle-Explore" activity. Students generated lists of facts they think they know about the war, puzzles or questions they have about it (hypothetical questions are accepted) and then ways that they would want to explore the topic.

Student "Think" answers reaffirmed the range of knowledge and the "Explore" section illustrated the need for us to delve into primary sources, which we will. The "Puzzle" portion was where deep questioning of the topic occurred and this curiosity is a great starting point to take our lesson tomorrow.

Student Pictographs

The students showed outstanding effort on their pictographs! Many put theirs in their portfolio but these were returned to me to be displayed outside of my classroom and on this blog.

Life in the North Pictograph

Students today are demonstrating their understanding of life in the North by creating a pictograph. The factual information students draw into their pictograph will prove that they understand the uniqueness of the North before the Civil War. When students are assessed in this way they show their "Big Picture" knowledge of a topic and that will in turn help them remember history in a powerful and meaningful way.

Students will complete a pictograph about life in the South after we've studied that subject and will write about the similarities and differences in both pictographs.

Industrial Revolution Haiku--Student Work

Here are some of the completed haiku. The students did a very good job of capturing the essence of working in an New England textile factory in the 1800s.

Their hands were destroyed
Tough work in the hot summer
The work was boring
--Nick, Joel, Neil and Ganesh
Stuffy, hard to breathe
Cotton whirls about in the light
Small cuts dot my hands
--Kaila and Christina
This is my winter
The treacherous long hours
The dull day is slow
--Emily, Rubab, Iris
Then, exhaustion and boredom
Last—is it worth it?
--Joey, Sai, Eric
Looking through the dust
Bloody hands, swollen fingers
Dreading every day
--Michelle, Daniella, Audrey
It was very hard
Cotton would damage your health
The sounds hurt my ears
--Danny, Laura, Skyla, Ryan

There are many kids
The machines are very loud
I can hardly breathe
---Scott, Will, Alec M., Adam
Work is dangerous
I feel sorrow and sadness
The air is dusty
--Ibrahim, Justin, Quinn, Eric
Not Enough
Waking up to serve
Each breath is filled with hard work
Life still not assured
--Shelby, Pooja, A…

Industrial Revolution Haiku

Students have been learning about the Industrial Revolution in the mid1800s and how it changed life in New England. Today students processed their learning by creating haiku poems on the subject. They were challenged to think about and evaluate this topic within the structure of a haiku, a 3 line poem with 17 total syllables--5 in the 1st and 3rd lines and 7 in the second line. The poems have been impressive and some will be posted here soon.

Manifest Destiny See-Think-Wonder Activity

Students spent some time analyzing artwork that captures the idea of Manifest Destiny, or the belief that Americans in the 1800s felt they deserved to have their land extend "from sea to shining sea". The painting, "American Progress" by John Gast, is full of detailed examples of the positive and negative effects of Manifest Destiny. Students began their work writing what they saw in the painting and what those items made them think and wonder about. The following discussion proved that students used deep thinking to extend their knowledge of this time period.

This is one of my favorite activities because I love incorporating art into US History and it makes me happy when my students can relate what they see in art to what we are learning in class. They now have a strong image in their mind when they think of the growth of the western United States.

Monroe Doctrine

Students learned about the Monroe Doctrine (written in 1823) today. This document isn't well known but should be because it sets the American foreign policy course to this day. We spent some time in class discussing how we are the peacekeepers and police force for the world and listed many examples where this was the case. Tomorrow the students will decide if America should take on this role. This discussion was another great opportunity to integrate 20th and 21st century history into our curriculum.  

Presidential Inauguration

This Monday is the day that President Barack Obama will be sworn into office again to begin his second four-year term.  Inauguration Day is usually always held on January 20th but will change this time because of the 2013 calendar. This information is from the official Inaugural website (the link is found at the end of this post).:
********************************************************************************* When Inauguration Day Falls on Sunday Only six times in the nation's history has the constitutionally-mandated date for a Presidential Inauguration fallen on a Sunday. January 20, 2013 will be the seventh time, and following historical precedent, the public ceremony will be held at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, January 21, 2013. In a tradition that dates back to 1917, the White House will likely arrange a private swearing in before noon on January 20, 2013.
There will be many events this week…

Hamilton and Jefferson

Students are exploring the differences between Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury and Thomas Jefferson. It's interesting for them to see not only how these men viewed government and society back in the late 1700s but also how they are similar to politicans today. While not a perfect match, Hamilton's ideas bear resemblance to the Republican Party's views today and Jefferson has Democratic leanings. There's much to interpret in their differences and it's making for interesting class discussion.