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Friday, April 4, 2014

Thursday Throw Down!

To make lessons interactive, my goal is always to connect the lessons to real life, but the best way I've found to do that is to teach using the Scottish Storyline method.  In Storyline, students become characters in the carefully thought out and planned "story" written by the teacher and there is a setting, or "frieze" created in the classroom for the story to take place.  Events and problems happen and characters respond, all while eagerly digging in and leading their learning.  The teacher weaves the content standards in literacy, math, social studies, current events, science... you name it into the story.

I've taught a bunch of Storylines but my top three favorites were our ocean voyage to the islands of Hawaii (a science themed oceanography, marine life, volcanoes, geography and persuasive writing focus), our Native American potlatch (social studies, cultures and narrative writing story) and the Rainforests at the Crossroads JASON Project Expedition storyline (science, organisms, expository writing, math, and technology story).

My favorite Storyline was the rainforest of Panama. I was selected one of the eight teachers to actually travel with Dr. Ballard's JASON Project expedition team and 24 students to live and work in Panama for two weeks at the Smithsonian Tropical Rainforest Institute.  The student argonauts were responsible for conducting real science in the field with real scientists and then hosting the live broadcasts that were satellite-fed to museums around the world.  Students who were using the program came to the museums to watch the live event.
I used my website to post my daily journals and photos for my students researchers. They asked questions and I replied via the Web.  It was awesome!  In the rainforest storyline, for example, students became researchers and filled out their resumes that qualified them for the expedition team.  We researched occupations in science, college degree programs, and students filled out a job application.  Students created the frieze, a 3-D rainforest on our largest classroom wall with twisted vines and huge 3-D leaves.  Students brought and shared their stuffed rainforest animals that hung in the paper canopy of the trees.  Then it was time to get their passport for the trip to Panama.  Students researched and got their travel shots and pills (jelly beans) and documented it in the passport.  While "there" on expedition, students conducted all kinds of experiments and did a research project on the topic of their choice.  Students learned all about the gravity feed of the Panama Canal locks, among many other topics.
That's one of the most fun interactive ways to connect students to learning and I LOVE teaching using Scottish Storyline.  What do YOU do to make your lessons interactive?  Leave me a note!

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