Have you ever had one of those days, where your lesson plans fail majorly and then you wing it and end up with something crazier and way better then you ever imagined!!!?
I both LOVE and HATE when that happens.
These past few weeks, my students have been studying Maps in Social Studies. Now each year, I like to mix up my activities and projects just a little, so as to keep my instruction fun and to meet the needs of the current class I have. But at the same time I don't recreate the wheel, I DO of course stick to some of those trusty lessons that always work.
Unfortunately this past week, one of my trusty lessons didn't work as well as I expected it to. My students blew through the material and I suddenly had 27 pairs of eyes staring at me with over 45 minutes of now what next!?
Since we were studying the characteristics and parts of a Map, I thought ok well they can create maps in groups for the next 45 minutes. I gave them paper and modeled how to draw roads, symbols, a map key, a map scale and a compass. My intention was for them to finish up within those 45 minutes but they LOVED it.
They took it to a whole new level and designed towns with themes. They planned out what they wanted in their towns and discussed whether or not it was ok to have more than one ice cream store or football stadium. They took out rulers and analyzed how long they would want to drive to get from one location on their map to another to help determine their map scale. I even overheard one group discussing where to put their own house on the map, finally determining that it should be on the north side of the map because its closer for Santa to reach at Christmas. It was incredible thinking skills!
A 45 minute map activity, turned into a 3 day project, one where they were digging into the material and thinking more critically than I had ever intended. We even added that Tech Twist by presenting our projects through the use of one of my favorite apps, "Shadow puppet!" You can see two of their presentations below.
I loved that this group added me to their map!
They worked so hard and I was so proud of their finished projects!
Obviously I'm going to keep planning out my lessons. I'm way too OCD to wing it everyday but its definitely nice to remind myself that sometimes a great lesson can come from a last minute thought! :)