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Showing posts from November, 2017

The Power of Support

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Yesterday's National History Day work featured the power of support. Eighth Grade Student Historians were once again fortunate to have Ms. Bradfield, State Coordinator for Michigan History Day, join us, along with our Teacher Librarian Mrs. Chatel. I'm happy to say that Ms. Bradfield will be joining 8th Graders from Smith Middle School in two weeks.
Students were able to ask Ms. Bradfield questions about topics, finding sources, and thesis development. They were also able to learn more from Mrs. Chatel about maximizing the benefits of Noodle Tools for research, digital note cards, and citations for their Annotated Bibliographies. 
My expertise in assisting students with National History Day projects is strong. My reaching out to other experts, though, hopefully demonstrates to my students my firm belief in Synergy. This notion that we are stronger together when we work with and learn from others should be practiced and reflected upon often.
I have worked alongside and served …

Symbaloo

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Link to my NHD Symbaloo Webmix 
Symbaloo is one of the best technology resources I've found to assist my Student Historians and me on our National History Day journey this year. 
I learned about Symbaloo at the MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) Conference this past March. I was intrigued by its ease of use and by the company's commitment to education. My first thought was to utilize this resource for National History Day.
Over the summer I created a Symbaloo Webmix to simplify the NHD process. Developing the Webmix was a matter of breaking down the project components (thinking about possible topics of interest, understanding the theme, pre-searching, researching, writing the thesis question, learning about project types, seeing project examples, creating digital note cards, housing resources, developing an Annotated Bibliography, and learning about the contest) and creating tiles for each these web links. 
The left side of the Webmix focuses on researc…

The Wall: Update

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Students did experience "The Wall" today while working on their National History Day projects (see yesterday's post). One group finally overcame a challenge today and it was really exciting to witness.
Two students have been interested in learning more about the Salem Witch Trials, but have been struggling with developing their thesis. (I studied this topic in depth in college--the trials were about economics, class struggle and sociology, not about "witchcraft" at all.) This year's theme is challenging, which added to their frustration. I guided, but mostly listened. Reminding these Historians that they have a powerful topic (which they do) gave them the encouragement to take the risk and try again. Walking them through developing a thesis that gave their audience more factual information was important. We also talked about how not "showing your hand", but creating curiosity about your topic, is key. 
This team has been trying to create a persua…

This Week in NHD: The Wall

Student Historians will continue work tomorrow on their National History  Day research. We are at the point in the process that all of the students will experience frustration and a setback or two of various degrees. This is what I've termed "The Wall".
Creative, open-ended projects are messy. 
Project-Based learning is messy. 
One "correct" answer doesn't exist to solve the problem. 
The learning that takes place doesn't follow a prescribed plan and it's not linear. 
This is disconcerting to students, especially those that have found great success with traditional education. Parents and teachers want to help students but the best thing we can do when the going gets challenging for them is to walk our talk.
We consistently tell our students that we believe in them and in their abilities (and we mean it). We let them know we think they are capable of great things. 
It's our time to show them. 
We cannot rush in to "fix things", though,…