Saturday, September 27, 2014

Giant Traveling Map

Talk about seeing the world up close! This past week our school had the opportunity to get their hands AND their feet on the Giant National Geographic Map.  Quickly taking off their shoes, my students rushed over to explore the mammoth "Map of North America".  Squeals of delight could be heard as the students found various states and features.  On the day of our first visit we just so happened to have skyped @weswils5 's class in Alberta, Canada.  It was so fun to watch the students crowd around the province on the map! A stronger, 'bigger' connection was certainly made.

I had no idea such a thing exsisted! The map which measures 26' by 35' was brought to my attention by a parent last year. It was rented for two weeks through the generous donation from our Parent Advisory Council. All the classes in our school were able to visit the map at least twice during the two week rental period.

The first time we visited the map we played a "Simon Says" type game to familiarize ourselves with the map. "Simon Says find a state that begins with an M" or "Simon says put your left foot in the Atlantic Ocean". These type of statements had the students visiting different areas of the map.  The next activity was based around using the "Cardinal Directions". Using the compass rose, we found locations on the map while stepping North, South, East and West.  Student gained a better understanding and appreciation of directions after this activity. It's wasn't as easy as one would think.  Another activity involved finding particular states. Each child was given a card with a state name & had to find that state as quickly as possible. It sure was a lot of fun exploring the states in such a manner.

Every day the students asked if we were going to visit the 'giant' map.  They not only loved the size of it, but they loved exploring the different features.  Each time, someone learned something new! It makes me think that we need to be incorporating more activities like this in our classrooms.


National Geographic Traveling Map: 6 Different Giant Floor Maps for Students to Explore

National Geographic: Exploring Maps and Models of the Earth

Teaching with Maps: NEA site that has students learning about Longitude & Latitude; Reading a topographic map & more

Google Earth Lessons & Ideas

Map Skills and Higher Order Thinking

Maps are fascinating on many different levels. Some folks may argue that 'reading a map' is not longer relevant due to technological advances and GPS systems.  Others say that reading maps lead to 'global learning'.  Witnessing the allure and attraction of these enormous maps makes me realize that students LOVE learning about places using visuals. If you get the chance - you should rent one!

In what ways do you incorporate MAPS in your teaching? How are maps applicable to our everyday life?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

First Day of School for the 25th Time

We all know the first day of school is special no matter what! But this first day was extra special - for the teacher!

Each year before our students return to school, the teachers and staff from our district gather one morning for a "Welcome Back" meeting.  Here, we learn about new initiatives, professional development opportunities as well as what transpired during the summer in the area of research & development.

Besides catching up with fellow educators we haven't seen for a while, my favorite parts of the meeting include recognizing the New staff (who are asked to stand and be welcomed) and celebrating those educators who have been servicing students for 25 years.

This year was a little more exciting than others as this year is MY twenty-fifth year of teaching (as well as about 6 other colleagues!) During the summer I received a letter from the Superintendent of Schools asking if I preferred to be recognized privately or at the meeting.  Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about teachers being recognized publicly - I'm ALL OVER IT! (Apparently my colleagues were all over it too, as they decided to receive their recognition at the meeting as well!)

(In a field where one's efforts can often lead to feelings of under-appreciation, it's nice to have the opportunity to be validated, especially in front of one's peers.  For newcomers who are starting out their journey in this profession, it's important to see the longevity of their new colleagues, which shows loyalty and dedication.)

Walking down the auditorium isle as my name was called, tears in my eyes, I felt incredible pride at the thought of serving the community (where I grew up!) for the last 25 years!  As I heard the applause and the hooting & hollering (not generally allowed at assemblies in our school) I couldn't help but hope that everyone in that room would one day have the chance to be making that same walk toward the superintendent to receive their 'pin' for 'dedicated service'. 

The celebration has continued (probably because I don't want to let one single moment go by without sharing my excitement with others).  I carry my pin with me and whip it out to show ANYONE who is interested in seeing the recognition one receives after 25 years!  Beyond the pin, I hope people feel the passion, enthusiasm and love I have for being an elementary school teacher after all these years!  After all, it's the BEST profession in the world!

I'll leave you with one last thought.  Saw this Tweet on Twitter at the start of school. Tina sure has it right....

Here are some resources that pertain to the topic of recognizing teachers publicly...

The Power of Positive Employee Recognition
Awards, Competitions & Grants for Teachers
Teachers are Heroes - Inforgraphic

(Slate Clipart: