Wandering and Wondering

Two highlights of LoC STI today- The first was getting to visit the Geography and Maps Reading Room at the LoC. Mike, one of the room’s librarians, had pulled several really interesting maps for us to look at. I was excited to get to see an original print of the map of US at the time of the 1860 election that I’ve used in class. We also got to see a map annotated by Meriweather Lewis and one drawn by George Washington. The maps room holds over 5.5 million maps!


In the afternoon, we broke into small groups to practice facilitating discussion of primary sources. While it can feel a little awkward to “practice” in front of other teachers, it was an incredibly useful experience. Most of us were facilitating discussion of sources with which we were not familiar, so it pushed us to avoid playing the role of expert and wonder along with our “students.”


After the STI was over for the day, I walked over to the Rayburn Office building to meet with a Senior Legislative Assistant to my US Representative David Price. I enjoyed meeting Kate and talking about teacher professional development and federal education issues generally. I also took the opportunity to sing the praise of the LoC and the National Writing Project.


I wrapped up the night with some ginger tea and coconut rice pudding at Teaism, one of my favorite spots in DC.


Got off at Union Station on the way back and walked home past the Capitol and Supreme Court building.


I think the cover they’ve got up while they’re doing work on the Supreme Court building makes it look like a movie set

Dream Trips

As our final project for 7th grade World History, students created a dream trip. They could choose any four stops and visit three sites at each stop. They created postcards in either PPT or Prezi to briefly describe the sites and explain their choices. (Let it not be said that my students won’t know how to send a letter, although I don’t really think that’s a critical skill :)) They only limitations- At least two of the places had to be ones we studied this year and they had to visit two continents. This was a great project to hold student interest at the time of the year, but also for some wrap-up discussion on places that we’ve studied.

Check out this beautiful example and this one! (Click on the word Postcards to access the cards in the first example.)

After students had written their postcards, I asked them to plot the places that they wanted to visit on a Google map.

Use the  + and – to navigate around on the maps.

1st period

2nd period

On our last day of class, we analyzed the maps. We discussed why, especially in first period, the destinations they picked were so American and Euro heavy.

We finished the class by playing GeoGuessr. Students were quite inventive in seeking out clues within the pictures to determine where they were, looking at clothing, text, and land features. Some of their guesses were way off, but some were within a couple hundred miles.

Seeing the Connections


Prior to a quiz on the early and mid-1800s (primarily focused on events leading to the Civil War) in 8th grade history, I asked students to make conceptual maps of the people, places, and ideas that we had studied. I broke students into groups of three or four and gave each group a large piece of paper and markers. The only requirement was that each term had to be connected to at least two other terms. The terms didn’t have to form only one web, but some students challenged themselves to do this. The best part of this activity was that there was a lot of realization on students’ part about material that they didn’t know. If there were terms that they couldn’t connect to other terms, either because they weren’t sure what they meant or because they didn’t realize how they related to the other material, it was a good clue that they needed to review the term.

photo (3)