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…

What are YOU reading??

I am sitting at home today, my child sick with a fever, an upper respiratory infection and a stomach virus. I wish I could that I am reading the books I’ve been trying to read for the past week or two…instead I am working on trying to get the Science text lined out for lesson plans in between wiping short stuff’s leaky nose.

That is also what I’ve been able to write so far today, but the day is young so I’m hoping for a few minutes in the world of the Stone Dragons (Maybe in my writer’s loft?? I haven’t been up there in a month!) The good news is that I did write the week’s short story this weekend…I just didn’t get it typed up and published for you, so that should happen sometime today too. *phew* I have more to do than if I had gone to school!

What about you? Are you reading anything this week or is life seeming to overcome all of the reading and writing time you so desperately crave? Can’t wait to hear from you all!

Have a blessed Wednesday!

What Are You Reading Wednesday

Happy Mid-week all! Each week I like to use this cross section of time to discuss our current reads. The only problem is that, this week at least, I am wading in to the text books and paperwork that I have to organize into lesson plans for next semester. Oklahoma History, Types and Forms of Writing, Interesting ways to make Book Reviews seem Fun, and all of those pesky skills the state decreed that my students have to know. I won’t bore you with the details…it’s a lot! Those of you who teach or have taught know what I’m talking about here…craziness.

I am getting a lot finished up and ready for the classroom, which you may have inferred from my extreme lack of time spent on here. I even had the time (or took the time) to paint an old dining chair yesterday; it has now become the Inspiration Station! I plan on a few more chairs with various painted pithiness (such as a ‘chill chair’ painted to look like stacks of ice where kids go to sit if they are mad or frustrated so that they can cool off).

Displaying CAM03838.jpg

The ‘before’ shot

Displaying CAM03842.jpg

AFTER! (The top part that you can barely see says ‘Inspiration Station’)

 

 

 

 

So there’s my non-reading Wednesday. Hopefully the rest of you are caught up on your work reads and able to fully enjoy a recreational read, or two.

What are those recreational reads? Are they good so far? If you finished last week’s read, how do you feel about it now? Did the ending disappoint or justify?