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Investigating the First Thanksgiving

What it is: Investigating the First Thanksgiving is a fun interactive where kids are the historians.  Students explore all the clues to learn about the first thanksgiving (really a harvest festival).  This site provides great primary source material for kids to sort through.  First they explore a section called Fact vs. Myth where they match pictures and descriptions.  Each section includes an expert video that talks students through the section and explains a little about the first Thanksgiving.  In the next section, students explore the Wampanoag people and learn about their different celebrations and traditions throughout the year.  Then, students visit an English Colonist village and learn more about life for the pilgrims.  Students can then learn about the events that happened prior to 1621 and what led up to the harvest celebration.  The timeline in this section clearly shows what events were happening from the colonists point of view and what events were happening from the Wampanoag point of view. Finally, students can share what they have learned on a virtual informational poster where they can type the text of the poster.  Students can print their completed poster at the end. How to integrate Investigating the First Thanksgiving into the classroom: Investigating the first Thanksgiving is an outstanding activity that involves students and makes them the historian.  Use this site to teach students the history of Thanksgiving but also how history changes.  This site does a great job of teaching students the difference between “the past” and “history”.  It makes the distinction that the past is always true but history (the way we interpret the past) can change based on additional information and resources.  You can go through the Investigating the First Thanksgiving interactive as a class on the interactive whiteboard, inviting student “historians” to come up and help guide the class through the activities.  Or as a center or individually on classroom or lab computers.  Finish the posters together as a class, filling in information, or each students can complete the final project.  If you do complete as a class, give a copy of the final to each student. Tips: There is a great teacher guide that accompanies this site and offers great ideas for using the interactive in the classroom. Leave a comment and share how you are using Investigating the First Thanksgiving  in your classroom.

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NBC Learn: Science behind the news

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 08-05-2013

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What it is:
NBC Learn has some fantastic free resources for teachers and students.  One of these freebies is called Science Behind the News.  In partnership with the National Science Foundation, NBC explores the science, technology and engineering found in current events.  Here, you will find a collection of videos that introduce students to the science found in the world around them and current events.  Students can learn about everything from quantum computing, to predictive policing, to crowdsourcing and weather phenomenon.  Each video is around 5 minutes long and are well produced.

How to integrate NBC Learn into the classroom:  I am a HUGE fan of embedded learning.  Learning that is in context just makes sense.  The learning is richer because students are able to make real connections to the foundational understandings that they already have.  In addition, this type of learning gives them an idea of how the learning that happens in the classroom is connected to life.  With Science Behind the News, students are able to see connections to the world right now.  These clips encourage students to be curious about the world around them, and to dig into the bigger “why” of how things work.  I like the thinking that is encouraged here.  It is really modelling curiosity beyond just passively listening to a news story.

These clips are a wonderful way to kick off a new science unit, as a resource during inquiry, or for students and classes just to explore.  Students can use these clips as a starting point for further research, a “spark” for more learning.  Each student could choose a different video to watch and then conduct some research to learn more.  Where else is the science used?  How has our thinking about a topic changed over time as we have learned more about it?  What math is involved?  Help your students to see that subjects don’t happen in isolation in real life.  Science is connected with social studies, math, literacy, history, sports, art, economics, discovery, etc.  Can they find the overlaps in learning?

Tips:  NBC Learn has other outstanding resources including: science in golf, science in hockey, science in football, chemistry now, fishing the dream, sinking the titanic, science of the winter Olympics, science of the summer Olympics, writers speak to kids and science in innovation.  Check them all out!

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Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  NBC Learn in your classroom.

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