Showing posts from March, 2015

Planning Successful Jigsaw Activities

Jigsaw activities are a useful classroom activity that promotes individual student accountability as well as the opportunity for peer sharing and character education practice. Jigsawing occurs when students form one group, become experts together on a particular topic, and then move to a second group to compile and synthesize learning from each expert group.

I am a believer in the benefits of jigsaw activities but, to be honest, the logistics of the activity can be daunting and have prevented me from using it as often as I could. (I can remember how nervous I was the night before I attempted a jigsaw in an observation--I was worried that my second "switch" wasn't going to go according to plan.) We all have our weaknesses! :)

I believe I have found a way to simplify jigsawing using colored paper clip tokens and table signs. I hope it helps others use this strategy more often in their classrooms.

I have 5 tables of 6 students and a classroom capacity of 30 students. Each …

Multi-Step Group Activities in the Secondary Classroom:Implementation Tips

Multi-step group activities are beneficial for students in all content areas and grade levels. Secondary teachers may feel that they take too much time to plan but the following tips will hopefully help you take the plunge and plan more student-centered activities in your classroom.
I decided to do a social studies skill builder map activity today with my 8th Grade US History students. It went well first hour but didn't run as smoothly as I would've liked. I reflected between my first and second class and made adjustments, with great success. 
Today's activity meets the first criteria of any good classroom activity--it has purpose and meaning. My historians were analyzing historic sources and determining how pioneers overcame geographic  hardships and challenges on the Oregon Trail. They will also process their thinking on Monday, after reviewing the work they completed today.
My classroom is set up in 5 tables of 6 students but I needed 8 groups today (there were 8 placa…

International Women's Day/Rosie the Riveter

Today is International Women's Day, in what is Women's History Month. I would like to commemorate the day by honoring a group that is extremely meaningful to me. My Grandmother, Elizabeth Hurd, was a Rosie the Riveter at the Willow Run Bomber Plant and helped to make B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II. I am in awe of the efforts these women made to keep our country safe during a time of great hardship. 
Last March the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run held an event to raise money to keep the bomber plant open and asked females of all ages to dress like the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster and participate in a World Record attempt. Seven females from three generations in my family participated and helped to set a record (there were 778 Rosies in all). 
The day was so meaningful to me and I know my Grandma would've been so proud of us. The camaraderie I felt with the women there (some were genuine Rosies) must have been similar to the feeling in the plant during the ea…