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…

New Books and New Jobs

Tyree Tomes has had a busy week. Dr. Tyree finished his new book, which will be available on Kindle within the next few days and deals with the act of Prayer. I reached my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 30,000 words in the month, perfected my happy dance, and interviewed with 3 elementary school principals all at the same time (I was surrounded and a little frightened…but I guess it was a viable form of interrogation interview).

I also gave away 37 copies of Dragon on My Neck’s e-book version and have begun looking at collecting my first four months of short stories into a book which will include the prompt or idea that sparked the story and then the actual story. (If any of you picked up Dragon on My Neck at any point, I would LOVE to know how you felt about the story and characters! If you don’t want to rate/review on it, just drop me a line or comment. Whether or not you liked it, I want to know about YOUR feelings. It can help my writing maturity…or so I’m told 😀 )

 

Oh, and I got offered a teaching job for next school year!

With all of this going on, I feel confident in our group’s growth, expansion, and most importantly, quality of content. I am quite certain that whatever classroom I am given, will provide me with all sorts of fodder for blogs and short stories to pass on to you! Thank you for your support and good will everyone! Have a blessed day!

The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish

The Tale of the ill-gotten catfish

By: Barbara Hay

Publication Date – October 16, 2012

Included extras – a map of bootleg Oklahoma

A glossary of lingo/terms

 

Written primarily for readers ages 8-13 this realistic fiction story is the first in a series that is based on the antics of four sixth grade rodeo boys who call themselves The Bulldoggers Club.

Written through one boy’s (Dru’s) point of view, the reader tags along on one misadventure after another as the boys learn about the effects of lying from one record breaking catfish.

Laced with fact based information on Oklahoma and bulldogging (steer wrestling), along with several other interesting tid bits, this book catches your attention and keeps you interested through the whole story.

It is my opinion that readers will find this story engaging, regardless of a rodeo background. Though a few pieces of the story felt slightly disconnected, it read true to the intended voice of a sixth grade (12 year old) boy, and I would give the book a rating of 4.5 out of 5 Dragons (or stars if you would rather). I look forward to reading Mrs. Hay’s next book.

 

www.barbarahay.com