I am excited to inform you about the learning we’ll be doing in the Social Studies class these next few weeks. We will be using a rigorous and engaging geography curriculum set in the zombie apocalypse! This might not be what you would expect to hear from the teacher, so I want to take this moment to share a bit about the curriculum and assure you of its appropriateness for the middle school classroom. I hope you’ll be encouraged to discuss our upcoming learning experiences with your child.
Zombie-Based Learning is a rigorous curriculum designed to meet the 2012 National Geography Standards for up to 8th grade. These standards combine geographic knowledge with deep concepts of geographical thinking. Students will be assessed on their work and performance in meeting these standards and completing projects. These assessments will give a more authentic view of a student’s ability to apply their learning.
In addition to being rigorous, Zombie-Based Learning is designed to be engaging. There is no rule that says school can’t be challenging and engaging. Students will create projects to show how they would use geographical skills to show how they would survive the zombie outbreak and rebuild society. They are encouraged to use creativity in these projects and express their ideas. A narrative is also included with the curriculum. This story sets up the projects, explains why they need to be completed, and gives context for the geographic thinking being used.
Even thought zombies are used to help get kids interested, this curriculum is entirely appropriate for middle school. It was designed by a middle school teacher for middle school students. The narrative is rated appropriate for ages 9 and up. This is about giving students an exciting context for their work, not about scaring them with gruesome images. Many schools as well as national education and geography organizations have show their support and enthusiasm for these lessons.
I’m excited for our upcoming projects. I know it will not only be fun and educational, but also engaging and memorable. The students who completed maps last year did a terrific job and learned a great deal. Some of their final work can be see on our Blog. If you should have any questions about our upcoming projects, please contact me.
Sincerely, Leslie Rice
A Note to You:
Dear Students and Parents, Eighth grade is an exciting year for middle schoolers. It's taken three years, but they are finally the "top dog" of the school. I love working with eighth grade students because they are smart and funny. They ask insightful questions, but are willing to do silly things. I have spent the past twenty-two years with thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds from the Bethalto community, and it has been a great pleasure. That does not mean it hasn't had some challenges, however, as I am sure we will have some this year. The best way for us to make sure we are able to overcome these challenges is with trust and open communication. I want you to know that you can trust me to be fair, consistent, and responsive to your concerns. I have an extensive educational background both in teaching Social Studies and English, and in Instructional Technology as well. My primary approach to teaching is to pose a question to students and then have them look for answers. Usually those answers come from a variety of text, and part of my responsibility is to identify text and media that meets the needs of your child. I also offer choices so students have some control over their learning. In other words, not all students will be working on the same thing at the same time, but I will assess their progress using rubrics that identify skills dictated by Illinois state and Common Core standards. There will be many opportunities for your child to demonstrate her/his learning this year. We will be looking at what it means to be an American in the years after the Civil War, and how America became a world power with the growth of the West and big business. We will examine how our country positioned itself in the world in the twentieth century, and discover how our government provides for the rights of its citizens when studying for the U.S. Constitution test. Along the way, we may visit a cemetery, locate a treasure, interview a veteran, or hide from an outbreak of zombies! If you ever have questions about your learning or that of your child's, please contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone- 377-7240 to leave a message. I am available for conferencing from 8:10 to 9:41 a.m. every day or can meet from 3:10 -3:30 after school. I look forward to a fantastic year with our wonderful eighth graders.