Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Day in the Life of 6th Grade Social Studies (Week of 2/2/15)

In 6th grade social studies classes at GMS, today's technology helps students learn about ancient civilizations.

Engaging Videos: 

To augment and enhance information learned through reading materials and photographs, 6th grade social studies teachers use sources like YouTube and Discovery Education to locate and stream videos for their students. Students benefit from the added multi-sensory dimension, of seeing and hearing the concepts through live action, that the videos provide.

Whether the videos are stories narrated by experts and referring to primary sources, reenactments, or a combination, they help students reinforce understandings of what life was like in the ancient civilization as well as how actual archaeologists and historians have preserved and restored the civilizations.

The videos lend themselves well to the work the students are doing, such as identifying themes in the disappearances of some ancient civilizations. After watching video clips, students work in partnerships to collaborate and apply their understanding of cause and effect to the information they learn in the videos.

The sixth graders discuss and debate the negative consequences that the various individual events could have had on the ancient civilizations, such as how a river changing course could impact water supply and the ability to grow crops.


With each student having his or her own Chromebook in class, BrainPOP is an excellent resource for students to review and reinforce material at their own pace.

These 6th graders can log into BrainPOP and locate videos related to the topics they are studying.

Additionally, the teachers utilize the resources provided through the site to give students ideas for taking notes and comprehension questions to ensure they understand the concepts.

QR Codes:

Using the camera on the Chromebooks, 6th graders can access QR codes in the classroom.  With a QR code reader installed, students can scan a QR code so that thedigital resource associated with it will pop up on their screen immediately.

Using QR codes in this way is helpful for keeping students curious about what they will encounter next during self-guided work, and gives them practice with the important digital skill that they will encounter outside of school as well.

QR codes can be generated and assigned to documents, presentations, websites, videos, and audio files.

If you'd like more information about QR codes in the classroom, check out these resources from Kathy Schrock: or these from Richard Byrne:

Electronic Resources with GAFE and SMARTBoards: 

Only five months into the school year and these 6th graders are pros at navigating Google Apps for Education (GAFE).  Teachers share out electronic resources in the form of Google Documents or Presentations, and students organize and refer to them in their Drive.  To record homework and other reminders, students also utilize the Google Calendar.

Students are using GAFE to design and create their own projects like Facebook-inspired profile pages to further understand Chinese philosophers and text spreads like those found in National Geographic. Templates for these projects are shared with students by their teacher in either Docs or Slides.  

These projects give students the opportunity to learn about the ancient civilizations and transfer learning while also exploring the creation and layout of authentic nonfiction genres.

Having a SMARTBoard in the classroom also makes it possible to create digital charts (like a KWL) during class discussions or mini-lessons which can immediately be shared with students.  6th graders eagerly volunteer to write the notes on the SMARTBoard, while the teacher circulates around the room and facilitates the discussion.

After the discussion, the teacher saves the image in the SMART Notebook software, which can be incorporated into future lessons and can be shared directly with students.

IMG_4169.JPGVirtual Egypt:
As 6th grade students study the culture of ancient Egypt, modern technology helps bring the ideas to life.

Kinesthetic learning activities combined with the technology are great ways to make long ago and faraway concepts come alive. Students create projects, such as Egyptian cartouches, or wrapping a doll mummy after reviewing the process of mummification, that help them better understand the art and religion of the ancient civilizations they study and express their unique personalities.  

Sites like Virtual Egypt make it possible for students to "take a journey back in time" through viewing maps and exploring ancient civilization ruins in 360 degree video tours.  

Creating displays of student projects in the classroom and in the digital environment not only keeps these concepts familiar, but helps students to study history in terms of causes and effects.

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