Teacher Review: Next Lesson

*I was asked to give my honest review of NextLesson in return for a small payment and membership*

There is often a struggle for teachers to find a balance in their lessons. Not just to keep the students behaving and listening…but really to keep them engaged and learning. This struggle seems to get more difficult each year and is especially evident in upper elementary and middle school students, who have grown into themselves and their social stigmas enough to start worrying more about what their friends are doing or thinking, than what the teacher is!

A site that can help you find these types of lesson is NextLesson.org. They have interesting, engaging, and multi-directional lessons that are sure to please administrations, teachers, and students. I have spent the last few days excitedly searching through lessons for various subjects and age groups, finding dozens that I would have either used as is or found a way to adapt to the correct age group if I was teaching this year. However, I am not in my own classroom (so far) so I decided to review a lesson that grabbed my attention as soon as I saw it on the site.

The NextLesson set of plans I chose to review for this post is geared toward sixth graders and should immediately grab the attention of your students, engaging their minds and actively helping them to learn in a way that makes it fun and inviting for them.

Entitled “Build a Time Machine”  with the driving question/subtitle “How Can We Learn From People in the Past?”  this lesson begins with your own choice of activity that will peak student interest in the subject of time, specifically points of time. Look at the science book, look at the history book, and let them know where in time you’ll be studying (traveling). then discuss the driving question. Sound odd? You betcha…but guess what’s next? A video introducing the idea of time travel and, specifically, building their own time machine.

That’s Right!

Students will build their own desktop time machines from repurposed, recycled materials found around their homes or towns. No purchasing materials, and no having other people (like your family!) bringing them to you. This project is scheduled to take 5 weeks, corresponding to ‘time traveling’ in class while learning world history and while discovering the possibilities of making time travel work using science.

During this month of lessons, NextLesson provides you with ideas, suggestions, and print outs so that students (AND TEACHERS!) have what they need at their fingertips. With ideas like a ‘Tweet Board’ on which students write ‘tweets’ to brag about their projects, a ready to use ‘how it works’ page for students to explain the science behind their machine, and a group video or essay giving advice to the next generation of time travelers (And giving the teacher student reflections) this set of lesson aids is sure to get your gears whirring!

*warning: Geek Moment Approaching* So, warm up your Tardis, grab your Sonic Screwdrivers, and come on! The Ancients are waiting…