Monday, August 31, 2015

Map Scale

My students are getting pretty good at drawing the world from memory.  We'll see what the pay-off is later.  I didn't give them as much time for that as I was planning.  #Thanks2HourDelay

We spent most of our time together looking at maps of various sizes, and discussing scale.  Although the scale of the maps changed dramatically, the distances between two points on the maps remained the same - because the world itself doesn't change.

Although we didn't have much time, we figured out distances using two different world maps.  

Tomorrow and Wednesday I'm hoping for more time.  Maybe we'll finish up map scale, and latitude and longitude.

I'm keeping the post short today.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Moving to Maps

We've been focusing on latitude and longitude - but with grids.  We've played Battleship, and placed Louis Tomlinson...  We've denoted the Equator, and the Prime Meridian.

But until today, we haven't looked at it on a map.

I thought the students would just be able to pick it up.  Really, it's the same thing we've been doing for the last week and a half.  ...But for some reason, they found it difficult.

We'll get it though.  I'm confident.  And it won't be long.

We also retook the continents and oceans quiz.  I hope to have those grades in the gradebook by the end of the day.  It wouldn't hurt to check grades.  There are several in there now.

If students want extra credit today, they need to check their grades with their parents (or some other adult.)  Write down your social studies grade on a piece of paper.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Battleship: I Crushed It! I Cheated!

I thought I was going to have the students play each other in Latitude/Longitude Battleship yesterday.  But first hour still had a lot of students who struggled with plotting their points.

So, I decided I would challenge the entire class - starting 2nd hour.  I gave them a grid with the ships already drawn on.  They had to plot them.  And then, students used those to play against me.

It's true - I knew where they had their ships.  ...I'm the one who decided where they went.  That led to some students accusing me of cheating.  But, I really didn't cheat until the very end of the game - and then only a little.

My Ships - With Some Notes on How to Plot

The point of playing together yesterday wasn't winning or losing - or whether or not I cheated.  It was making sure my students can plot the points on their own - and then play against each other today.  And they did.  And it went really well.

Students can get extra credit if they read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Students, explain Latitude & Longitude Battleship to the adult you read the blog with.  To prove you've done this,
find a scrap of paper, and write 2 sentences about the discussion.  Then, have the adult you read with sign the paper.

Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

If you want to play L&L Battleship, you can print off a form for yourself HERE.

We are also grading the Forestland paper tomorrow.  I believe everybody turned it in today.  If you didn't make sure you get a copy.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Map Distortion

I hate liars.  Well, I mean... I don't hate them, hate them.  But I don't like when people lie to me.

Or when maps lie to me.

But, basically every map is telling at least a little lie.

Today we noticed that the earth is measured in degrees.  (We noticed this exact same thing last week.)  And the distance between the degrees differs depending on where you are.  If you're standing on the Equator, 1 degree is nearly 70 miles.  If you're standing on the North Pole, it's less than an inch.

And all those degrees at the north and south get stretched out, distorting most maps we look at.

To show what I meant, we watched a couple videos.  Feel free to check them out here:

Students can earn extra credit by reading and discussing this blog with an adult.  If you've done that, find a scrap of paper and write the phrase, "Maps are lying liars."  Then, students should have the adult they read the blog with sign the paper and turn it in tomorrow.  (They should also make sure their name, date, and class period is written on there somewhere.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Latitude and Longitude: 2015

We're learning about latitude and longitude today, and plotting coordinates.

This is one of the many places math and social studies overlap.  I asked my students how many of them studied geography...  Not too many hands.  Yet, they all knew what a triangle, circle, and square were.

More than that, they know the difference between a right angle, an acute angle, and an obtuse angle.

(Not to be confused with obtuse angel):

Obtuse Angel
It's one thing to know what lines of latitude and longitude are - it's quite another for students to understand how they're determined.

This year, I had them imagine they were floating at the middle of the earth - with a laser.  If they shot their laser straight out - it would be 0°.  If they aimed north at a 45° angle, they would hit the 45° N line of latitude.  If they aimed south 30°, they would hit the 30° S line of latitude.

There are lots of good pictures out there depicting the concept:

We also went over some ways to remember which lines are latitude, and which are longitude.  If you want, you can check out some previous posts about that.  Just click on the "latitude and longitude" link on the side of your screen.  (Or in the drop-down menu, if you're using a mobile device.)

Students can get extra credit if they read and discuss the blog with an adult.  To prove that they did this, have the adult ask the students a question or two - perhaps explain back the "laser from the center of the earth" example of how latitude is determined.  ...Or what is the 0° line of latitude?

Have the students write their answer on a piece of paper, then adults should sign it.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The World

We're working on some basic geography and spatial recognition.  Yesterday, I had students draw a map of the world from memory.

Today, I let them look off of another map.  Obviously, today's looked better.

I want my students to start off the year being able to reference various places in the world - at least the continents and oceans.  If they can draw the world, they'll be able to do this.  And we can build off it.

Of course, everything is more complicated than it seems -  even something as simple as continents and oceans.  We watched a video today discussing that.  If you have a chance, check it out:

Students can get extra credit if they read and discuss the blog with an adult.  To prove that they were here today, find a scrap of paper and have them draw a map of the world from memory.  (Do not allow them to take more than 2 minutes on this.)  When they're done, sign the map.  (Feel free to try it yourself.  It's tough.)

Turn in the paper tomorrow.  Make sure your name, date and hour are on it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Observations and the World

Social studies is a lot like science: both deal extensively with observation.

In 7th grade, at least, science deals with observing the physical world, whereas social studies deals with observing how that world relates and affects people - and vice versa.

To practice our observation skills, I had the students describe the junior high commons from memory.  (I didn't give them long to do this.)  Then, I had them describe what Mr. Ogle was wearing - most students had just seen him out in the hall.

Finally, I had them close their eyes, and describe what the person across from them was wearing.  It's tough, being attentive.

We can make lots and lots of observations about the things and people we see and know about.  How much more difficult is it to try to understand people and places we've never been?

Students can get extra credit if they read and discuss this blog with an adult.  To prove that they've done this, have either the student or the adult close their eyes.  The other person should keep reading out loud.




Got it?

Alright.  You!  The person who is reading!  Have the person with their eyes closed describe what you are wearing.  When you're done, write down a sentence or two telling me how they did.  Have the adult sign the paper.  

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I can't believe the school year has started.  For me, that was the shortest summer break we've ever had.  ...Ever.

I'm having a great time learning all of the students.  So far, I've been impressed.

Today, we went over procedures and expectation.  ...I imagine that's what students did in almost all of their classes.

I'm asking students to bring the following to my class every day:

  • A 3-Ring Binder - at least 1 inch thick
  • Pencil or pen (blue or black ink)
  • Planner
  • AR book (they'll go to the media center to choose these)
  • A pack of pencils for me

I'm also asking the students to bring 1 of the following:

either:  A pack of red pens
OR       A pack of tissues
OR      A pack of colored pencils
OR      A pack of dry erase markers

If you have any questions about any of this, please let me know.

Finally, at some point we'll probably discuss The Hunger Games.  We'll leave that for another day.

Students may be here because they want some extra credit.  To get that, they need to read and discuss this blog with an adult.  After they've done that, students should find a scrap of paper and write the phrase of the day: "This is going to be AMAZING!!!!!"  Students should have the adult they read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Put it in the extra credit tray tomorrow.