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Home » Middle School Ideas » pre-2011 middle school ideas

Please use this forum to share ideas, materials, and methods for teaching about Asia that are appropriate for middle school classes. Please also note the social studies, literature, and other discipline-specific threads in the "Asia in My Classroom" forum.
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1/27/2006 7:36:07 PM

gmzarou
gmzarou
Posts: 31
Subject: Re: teaching geography
I find a good way to lock that geography knowledge in is to tie geographic features to cultural development. For example, an island nation breeds skilled fisherman, tropical cultures respect and fear the hurricane (monsoon), etc.

Re: Asia, try showing the kids elevation maps of China. Maptell (http://www.maptell.com/maps/webmap/world/worldelev.htm) provides a nice, full-color elevation map of anywhere in the world. Or I also like this one of China from AskAsia.org (http://www.askasia.org/images/teachers/media/43.gif)

Then, ask them questions like, "Why do you think the Ancient Chinese settled in the northern plain?" "Why do you think China was isolated from the rest of the world in ancient times?" "Why do you think a number of different cultures developed in China in ancient times?" to get them thinking about how geography affects culture. Plus, when they think of China from now on, it will no longer just be a big red blob on the map, but they will have an appreciation for the rich geographic diversity (mountains, deserts, etc.).

m@x
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1/27/2006 7:56:42 PM

gmzarou
gmzarou
Posts: 31
Subject: Good Website for Everyone
It occurred to me that I referenced AskAsia.org (http://www.askasia.org) in my last post without saying anything about it. This website, which I'm sure has been mentioned on this forum before, is maintained by the Asia Society, "an international organization dedicated to strengthening relationships and deepening understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States." Sounds familiar, eh? In this case, however, the Asia-inspired billionaire is John D. Rockefeller III.

It not only has a great "interactive atlas" co-authored by the National Geographic Society for students, but also lesson plans, maps, images, and discussion boards for teachers. It's definitely a great one-stop shop for Asia-related information.

My only criticism is that with so much information, it's difficult to find what you're looking for without becoming hopelessly distracted. If I can't concentrate, imagine how a 12-year-old all hepped up on Hot Cheetos is going to fare.

m@x
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1/27/2006 8:14:50 PM

gmzarou
gmzarou
Posts: 31
Subject: History for Kids...?
Have any of you guys found this website useful?

http://www.historyforkids.org/

Founded in 1995 as a community service learning project about Rome and Greece at Portland State University in Oregon, this site now seems to cover all of Europe, Asia, and Africa, up until 1500 (CE). There's definitely a wealth of information here, and the site aims to be kid-friendly, but....I don't know, I'm not sure how valuable this would be in the classroom.

For one thing, it's very ad-heavy, and if you're using outdated computers (as most of our students are) it's very slow. In some cases, the ad takes up more space than the column, implicitly sending the message that the ad is more important than the text. And I find the text itself a little too simplified.

Maybe this would be useful as an "into" activity, just to get kids interested and spark a few ideas, but I'm not sure that it's the most educational site out there.

thoughts?

m@x
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1/27/2006 9:40:18 PM

zarooum
zarooum
Posts: 42
Subject: Mr. Dowling's Electronic Passport
You guys should check this out:

http://www.mrdowling.com

He's a middle school history teacher in Palm Beach, Florida who has created an incredible website. We found all kinds of stuff when we were creating our lessons, and then one day realized that since we were only using the China pages (http://www.mrdowling.com/614china.html ), we had only scratched the surface!

All of his lessons and homework (even quizzes) are available for download (and in Word, so you can make any changes you need) and all he asks in return is that you drop him an email telling him (and his students) how you used the site. Thumbs up.

Hey, maybe someday our website will have been visited by people in over 180 countries . . .


Linda Zarou
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1/29/2006 2:49:01 PM

dbrittenham
dbrittenham
Posts: 20
Subject: Re: Middle School Ideas
Hi. I am an NCTA alum (2003), and am benefitting from all the Middle School ideas here. Sounds like you have a dynamic seminar! I am currently teaching Japan (7th grade), and use TeacherWeb for my classroom webpage. I have quite a few resources posted there now. You might want to take a look. The URL is http://teacherweb.com/CA/SouthPointeMiddleSchool/MsBrittenham/h1.stm
[Edit by="dbrittenham on Jan 29, 2:49:52 PM"][/Edit]
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1/30/2006 9:34:15 PM

zarooum
zarooum
Posts: 42
Subject: Ideas for teaching geography
I just read your post requesting ideas for teaching geography. The most original method I have found is to have the students use their bodies to represent landforms. They lay on the floor to represent rivers and seas and wave their hands to represent the way the water flows. If they are being the Gobi desert, they will whisper, "hot, dry, hot dry." They stand up with hands overhead to represent mountains. After you have placed everyone strategically, corresponding to a map you are displaying on the overhead of the region you are teaching, then the rest of the class usually decides where the best place to settle is. Most of the 6th grade geography standards expect the students to understand how geographic factrors effect where ancient cultures settle. Once Dalvon has played the Yangtze River or Myeshia and Shonisha have been the Himalayas, you'd be surprised how easily the class remembers the geography of the region.

Linda
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1/30/2006 9:38:12 PM

fisakson
fisakson
Posts: 35
Subject: Re: Ideas for teaching geography
What a cute and original idea! This is definitely an idea I will use with my 6th graders. Tell me, have you ever taken pictures of your geography lesson? I would love to see a picture of "China"!

Felisa
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1/30/2006 10:08:26 PM

zarooum
zarooum
Posts: 42
Subject: Re: Middle School Ideas
Since I have finished teaching my unit on Ancient China, I am starting to reflect on what worked best. One of my favorite lessons was inspired by Dube's "Encounters" method of teaching. In order to make the three philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism and Legalism seem real to my 6th graders, I taught each lesson using an environment reflecting the respective philosophy.

For Confuciansim, students arranged their chairs in small circles and a student representing an elder stood above each group as the wise mentor who led the instruction. Students showed their elders great respect. bowed to them and thanked them for teaching them.

The next day for Daoism, students could sit anywhere they liked--most chose the floor or on top of desks. They were allowed to study anyway they liked and to demonstrate what they learned in creative ways.

On the last day, students were ushered into the classroom to desks in rigid rows an arm length's apart. They were ordered not to look the teacher in the eye and to study the material on legalism silently on their own. Any student who disobeyed was exiled to stand in the back of the room. The kids loved it and when asked to write an essay on the three philsophies they really came through.

Attached is the writing prompt I used as an assessment.

Linda

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1/30/2006 10:23:17 PM

zarooum
zarooum
Posts: 42
Subject: Re: Middle School Ideas
An idea to help sixth graders use critical thinking while studying the achievements of Qin the first emperor of China is to have them create a "commenorative plaque" or a "wanted poster" once they have researched Qin. They need to decide whether he was an effective ruler or an ineffective ruler and whether they should decide to immortalize him with a plaque or put out a warrant for his arrest using a wanted poster.

I downloaded examples of plaques from the internet to give kids ideas and most of them knew what a wanted poster looks like. As part of either poster, they were required to illustrate at least 3 things that Qin did to support their conclusion.

The posters turned out so great I laminated them for posterity.

Attached are a few examples.

Linda

Attachments:
Qin Posters.doc
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1/30/2006 10:36:47 PM

zarooum
zarooum
Posts: 42
Subject: Culminating Task for 6th Grade Ancient China
As a final assessment for my 6th grade unit on ancient China, I had my students create accordion books to answer the question: What factors promoted unity and what factors discouraged unity in ancient China and why.

First I had them brainstorm using the topics and factors under each topic below:

Two examples were already done for them:


CULTURAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Shang tombs
Building the Great Wall--promoted unity because it protected China from foreign invaders
Development of Silk Road
Standardization of writing and weights and measures
Tai chi

GEOGRAPHY
Elevation--promoted disunity because it kept the settlements separated from each other
Temperature
Rainfall
Types of vegetation

GOVERNMENT
Legendary emperors
Shang dynasty
Zhou dynasty
Qin Shi Huang Di
Han Dynasty

PHILOSOPHIES
Ancestor veneration
Confucianism
Daoism
Legalism
Buddhism

TRADE
Exchange of goods during Shang dynasty
Merchants during Han dynasty
Silk Road routes

SOCIAL GROUPS
Artisans
Imperial family
Merchants
Nobles
Officials
Peasants
Slaves
Soldiers

After they chose four factors that promoted unity and four that discouraged unity they illustrated the factors and wrote summaries of each on the pages of their books. They turned out beautifully.

Attached are some picutres of the final result.
Linda

Attachments:
Accordion Books.doc
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2/7/2006 7:11:11 PM

jpratt
jpratt
Posts: 30
Subject: Re: Culminating Task for 6th Grade Ancient China
I'm having difficulty finding a focus for China. How can I effectively teach the different schools of religous thought? I adapted the idea of the debate that Clay had us participate. I want my students to work in groups and present information about how their religion views various topics like government/family/etc.

Any other ideas?

jem
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2/17/2006 6:09:18 PM

babrown
babrown
Posts: 40
Subject: Using the New York Times
I ran across this web site and thought it looked useful. It is a collection of lesson plans from the New York times.

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/china.html
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2/18/2006 10:57:14 AM

efoster
efoster
Posts: 37
Subject: Literature Alligned to Social Science Standards
A couple of years ago I purchased the Tales of Time Literature Aligned to CA History-Social-Science content Standars Grades Six to Eight. It is a great list of fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction and poetry readings that include titles, authors and descriptions. It fills a 3" binder! It is a great resource for literature that is linked to the 6th to 8th grade history-social science curriculum.
It cost $15.78 from the San Joaquin County Office of Education, PO Box 213030, Stockton, CA 95213-9030.
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2/18/2006 8:52:24 PM

efoster
efoster
Posts: 37
Subject: Re: teaching geography
I love geography and start every unit with a map test that, surprisingly, my students look forward to more than a chapter test!
I start with a blank map and a list of about 40 countries/geographic features. Students then label the map with numbers based on their list of countries/geographic features. For the test I give the same map with the numbers scrambled. Usually about 80% of my students get As and Bs. They seem to have a real sense of accomplishment when they do well on the test and they are less anxious about future map tests. Studying is still critical to their success.
I usually try to give my students memorization tricks for remembering location of places. I know some teachers who are able to sing the order of the countries to their students (Europe map specifically) but I am musically challenged so I can't help you there.
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2/19/2006 10:04:37 AM

mstevenson
mstevenson
Posts: 12
Subject: Re: Middle School Ideas
How much time do you budget to complete this task? Do you have any pictures of previous books or cardboard printers?
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2/19/2006 10:14:51 AM

mstevenson
mstevenson
Posts: 12
Subject: Re: Scrapbooking China
Thank you for the idea and resource. I am going to use it to begin my unit on China. In the past do you have students email, present or print their scrapbooks. What if any grading criteria do you communicate to students? At the end of the unit do you have them update their scrapbooks to reflect their learning?
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2/19/2006 10:23:47 AM

mstevenson
mstevenson
Posts: 12
Subject: Re: Middle School Ideas
There are overheads for grades 6-8 from TCI History Alive. Recently, they have also made great strides to align all of their curriculum to California State Standards.
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2/19/2006 2:33:09 PM

jshepherd
jshepherd
Posts: 42
Subject: Re: Marco Polo
"Marco Polo Contoversy" does indeed breed interest. You could also try this in the form of a web quest. After mapping Marco Polo's journey and discussing the different positions divide students in to groups, give them guiding questions, a position, and a list of websites they can use to gather information. After organizing their information have a classroom debate. This can be used to meet not only history standards but the LA standards of research, identifying the author's perspective and persuasion.
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2/19/2006 2:44:29 PM

jshepherd
jshepherd
Posts: 42
Subject: Re: Three Beliefs System
A couple of ideas for teaching the different belief systems:
- webquest- give your students guiding questions then have them search for their answers.
- Character posters of the different founders (my students love these)
-analyze the different belief systems of cultures they've already studied, identify the basic tenents, why/how do we know these... make sure they understand that often "religion is culture", look at the culture's where Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism are practied and were practiced and identify the basic standards of society. Answer which go with each belief system.
-Pictures always help.. I build slide shows off the internet to illustrate ideas and give examples of the belief systems.
- One thing I tried this year as the culminating assessment of the three religions/philosophies is have my students write a compare and contrast essay. They were able to use our class discussion/notes, different websites, as well as books and other resources I have in my room. I provided them with a number of graphic organizers as well (I think these are necc. for the majority of students to organize their info.) This worked wonderfully for all my students but primarily for my eld kids to drive home the belief systems.

Julia Shepherd
Riverside, CA[Edit by="jshepherd on Feb 19, 2:58:13 PM"][/Edit]
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2/20/2006 7:28:55 PM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1921
Subject: Re: Three Beliefs System
Julia,

I love the idea of conveying beliefs graphically. We routinely have students create posters, etc. to illustrate the teachings of the sages. I think that kids would enjoy making their own powerpoint presentations as well. What images do you use to illustrate Daoism?
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