Tag Archives: common core module

Inside out and Back Again Book Unit Ideas

3 Dec

Chances are sometime this year whether you’re a teacher, work in a school, know someone who’s a teacher or have kids you have heard the words “Common Core”. What is it? A new set of standards that the country is implementing to get all states on the same page about what is taught in schools. This means all states have the same standards, instead of separate standards for each state like it used to be.

The common core standards are designed to make underperforming U.S students more college and career ready. I believe they are  more authentic and will be more helpful than the old standards for meeting that goal.

Some teachers are irritated with my state, New York, because they have gone ahead and designed whole book units on books for each grade level and “suggested” to schools to teach these units. This takes away creativity of the teacher as she is no longer able to design her own lessons. No one wants to be a robot and just follow a script, which is what essentially the NYS modules are.

inside-out-back-again

My school district has not mandated that we use these units, however I really liked one of the books, Inside out and Back Again by Thannha Lai so I decided to go ahead and teach it. I haven’t followed the scripted lessons word for word; I have taken what I could use and implemented changes that will fit the needs of my students. Okay, since I’m probably boring you with teacher speak, here are some ideas that I used to spice it up.

1. Include websites and more supported material on Vietnam that is student friendly.

Many of the articles and websites that the state used were dry. So here are some that I used to spice it up.

Vietnam War Facts

Fall of Saigon Video

Helicopter Pilot recalls Fall of Saigon

Sweet refugee stimulation video game <<<< really cooL!

Refugee Background

2. Real life correspondence with refugees.

The school I used to work at was an area that serviced a lot of ESL and refugee students. I got in touch with a friend (thanks Judy!) and we organized a little “pen pal” type activity. My students are so excited to see what our refugee student has to say in response to questions they created! We’re reading them tomorrow in class. This will help with their refugee research for the final project. I also reached out to local agencies and organized an office supply drive at my school. Some refugees at a center in Buffalo are having a hard time with supplies for applying for jobs and learning English. I organized a drive at my school and I will deliver the office supplies to the agency when the drive is over. Another great real life connection!

3.Differentiated final project

The final project of the module was the write a poem. I offered them multiple choices utilizing my school’s 1:1 I pad situation. They will use apps like Instablend, Piccollage, Videolicious, and Podomatic to create these projects.

Final Projects for Inside out and Back Again

I can’t wait to share the projects when they are completed! This blog topic was way far off from my regular topics but I am excited about the ideas I tried and just wanted to share! Thanks for reading!

If you’re a teacher, how do you feel about the common core?

Does your state have scripted lessons? Would you follow it?

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Omnivore’s Dilemma: Food education

30 May

Once again I am merging the two concepts upon which this blog was designed- my love of food and my teaching career. I already posted awhile back about incorporating my love of food into my classroom. To end the year, my students are completing a research project centered around an amazing book I just finished, which was life changing to say the least.

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In his book, Pollan strives to uncover secrets of industrial, processed, industrial organic, and sustainable meals. It really goes to the heart of how what you eat affects not only you, but the environment, the economy, the government, and society as a whole. As bloggers, we may put a lot of thought into what we eat. But have you REALLY thought of the political, social, environmental and economical implications of eating your morning cereal? Who grew, processed, packaged and shipped that product? Did it take more energy to make it than you can actually get from it? The answers will surprise you, and most likely make you NOT want to eat a lot of the things you currently eat. I know I’ve changed my eating habits immensely since reading this book.

So I was reading this book and come to find out…..it’s on the common core for 8th grade! Who would have thought?!?! My initial reaction was excitement. Then it turned immediately to panic. They want 8th graders to read this?!?!? One of the chapters was labeled “corn sex” !!! There were words I couldn’t pronounce. I was freaking out. Then I discovered this:

source

The young adult version! Essentially the same book only at a lower, much easier to understand reading level (I was struggling to follow the adult version myself!). And no sex, even of the corn nature.

I picked out about 5 chapters for students to read to get an overall picture in order to answer this question:

essential question

Students did various activities examining food labels, watching videos provided by Nourish, and studied industrial faming VS local farming.

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It just really surprised me how little my students knew about the secrets behind the food they eat. That soda is mostly 100% HFCS. That they put ammonia in meat to kill bacteria. The environmental implications of drinking hot chocolate that was shipped from Switzerland.

There’s so much to talk about when it comes to this topic (I already covered eating local). At some times I was feeling weird about teaching students this, thinking they were going to go home and rant to their parents about how they need to start eating grass-fed beef. But if you really think about it, if we don’t teach our kids about this damaging, corrupt, and disgusting thing that is the food industry, when will the ignorance end?

SO when we were done studying the topic, students picked their own individual topics to research further. Choices included:

*Organic vs conventional food

*Food poisoning

*grass fed vs industrial meat

*processed food

*fast food secrets (a popular one)

*hunting for food

*Hidden ingredients

Students will do research (we’re wrapping up day 3 of research) and then complete a presentation (no paper- aren’t I nice?) using the Ipad app Haiku Deck. This presentation software is really easy to use, student friendly, and eye catching! It’s similar to power point but much more simple. Perfect for our shortened time frame.

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Can’t wait to post some examples!

You should really get your hands on the adult (or young adult!) version of the book. It changed the way I look at food forever. I obviously ate pretty healthy before this book, but some of the things you think to believe are “healthy” have some compromising implications you’d be surprised about. Check it out!!!

Have you read the book? Do you think we should teach our kids to care about where our food comes from?

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