Docmeek guest article by Susan Lee
4 Inexpensive, Engaging Lessons for Middle Schoolers
Middle school teachers spend a great deal of time designing lessons that are engaging, yet easy on their wallets. As states cut education funding and schools struggle to provide supplies and materials other than the most basic essentials, teachers are left to find inexpensive activities for their classrooms. To make the process a little easier, here are three inexpensive, engaging lessons for middle schoolers that are sure to make both the students and the teachers happy.
Going to Great Lengths – Middle School Math Lesson
Measurement and estimation are two important concepts in middle school math. To make it more engaging than having students measure using worksheets, or even measuring predetermined objects, send students on a scavenger hunt around the classroom or school.
To begin, group students evenly int0o teams. Place three objects of varying length in the front of the classroom and ask each team to estimate the length of each object. Don’t give them the unit of measurement, so that you can formatively assess their ability to use correct measurement units. (*Hint: Choose objects that would require different units, such as inches, feet, and yards.) Then, ask for volunteers to come up front and measure the objects to s0ee which team’s estimate was closest to being accurate. (*Hint: If you don’t have enough rulers or yard sticks for each team, cut string to the length of a ruler and yard stick and use a marker to mark off the inches/feet.)
Then, instruct the teams to leave their measuring tools at their seats while they scour the classroom or designated school areas for items that correspond to your measurement specifications. Teams will have to estimate the lengths of the objects when choosing them, and then return to their tables to measure the objects’ actual length. The team with the objects that are closest to your requested measurements wins.
Vocabulary Hot Potato – Middle School Language Arts or Social Studies Lesson
Whether you are teaching academic vocabulary or vocabulary specific to a text or spelling lesson, you can teach it and have students practice it in a more engaging way with Hot Potato Vocabulary. This inexpensive, engaging vocabulary lesson requires a small foam ball or tennis ball, a source of music (radio, iPod, CD player, etc.), your students, and a list of the vocabulary terms. By the way, you may be a little leery of playing a physical game in your classroom, but don’t fret: there are strategies for classroom management during gameplay that are very effective.
Instruct students to stand in a circle. They should have their vocabulary lists on the floor at their feet, or you can direct them to a large poster of the vocabulary lists hanging on the wall near them somewhere. You will begin playing the music at a minimal volume, and you will toss the ball to a student while the music plays. Students continue to toss the ball to one another until you stop the music, a la musical chairs.
When you stop the music, give a definition or example of one of the vocabulary words to the student who was caught holding the ball when the music stopped. If the student answers correctly, he remains in the game. If he answers incorrectly, he returns to his seat and completes a vocabulary activity that you have prepared ahead of time. The game continues until you run out of vocabulary words, or until there is only one student left in the game.
Pirates – Middle School History Unit
Middle schoolers respond best to lessons that are fun and engaging, and few historical topics meet those requirements better than the study of pirates. To kick off your unit on pirates, you might surprise the kids by showing up in a pirate costume. It’s a great way to get the lesson off to a fun start and it’s sure to get their attention right off the bat.
Then, get rolling with a few of the activities offered by the New England Pirate Museum. For example, have your students research a well-known pirate and then write a few entries in that pirate’s diary. You could also have students research and sketch the different types of ships that were used by pirates. Another great option is to have students research pirate vocabulary and choose the provided definition that would have been most applicable to a pirate’s way of life. Finally, you might end the unit with a scavenger hunt using pirate-fact inspired clues.
Levitating Orbs – Middle School Science Lesson
Static electricity is one of the most fun concepts to teach to middle schoolers, especially because many of them have had personal experience with being zapped by it at some point. For this inexpensive, engaging lesson on Levitating Orbs, you will need PVC pipe, about one inch wide by 24 inches long. If you don’t have any pipe, regular balloon will work as well. You also will need mylar tinsel left over from Christmas, but make sure that you find the thinnest and narrowest possible. There’s a good chance you will be able to find some in a clearance bin at a discount store or craft store, no matter the time of year you look. You’ll also need one head of clean, dry hair and scissors.
Tie six strands of tinsel together at one end, and then tie another knot about six inches from the first knot. Cut off the loose strands. Charge the pipe (or balloon) by rubbing it back and forth on your head for about 10 seconds. Then, hold the mylar orb by the knot above the pipe (or balloon) and let it drop to touch the charged object. The orb should repel and begin to float. (*Note, you should try this before doing it with the class, because if the mylar sticks it is more than likely too thick and not going to work.)
Students should then experiment by making orbs with more or fewer strands of tinsel, trying to create static electricity with other materials, such as their clothes, especially if some are wearing wool sweaters or furry boots, and timing to see how long the charge lasts. Can they do anything to make the charge last longer? Give students time to conduct their own investigations and experiments and then report their results.
Nearly any lesson can become an inexpensive, engaging activity when you share your enthusiasm and love of learning with students. Don’t be afraid to substitute materials to save money, or to approach local businesses for donations or discounts when you show your teacher ID.
Susan Lee may be a former teacher, but she is a lifetime educator. As a mother to three college-age children, she knows how difficult paying for college can be. And that’s why she finds her work with OutsideScholarships.org so rewarding. As a writer and researcher, she loves being able to connect students in need with the scholarships that help make achieving their dreams possible. In her spare time, she loves camping with her husband and volunteering at a local animal shelter.
**PHOTO CREDIT: Image via Pixabay by wilhei**
Image: Allison Cameron’s Classroom in Saskatchewan
You gotta have fun doing it!
I’ve always said that the brain requires body movement. I use the word “movement” because people groan when I mention the word “exercise” (including me!). 😮
And you have to use the form of movement that you love, or at least is fun.
Why do I have to exercise in a “fun” way?
So that you will keep it up every day (or almost every day) and keep your brain!
“…studies have shown that dancing actually reduces anxiety. In one study reported in Psychology Today, patients who suffered with anxiety were assigned to one of four classes: math, music, exercise or a modern dance class. Only those who took the modern dance class saw a signifcant reduction in their anxiety.”
– Becky Griffin in Deseret News at this link:
Thank you, Becky Griffin!
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Saturday, April 18, 2015
Dr. Kenny Handelman (Image from: DrKenny.com)
ADHD Expert Spells it Out
I just received a newsletter from Dr Kenny Handelman, a Child and Adult Psychiatrist who has a private practice in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
He said he is sometimes challenged with, “What is the best natural treatment for those struggling with ADHD?”
He says he knows of one natural treatment that:
– calms the nerves
-increases focus and concentration
– reduces stress and frustration
– helps you sleep better
Exercise is King
In my practice, I have always advocated body movement as an effective antidote for ADHD stress and frustration and lack of focus.
I call it “Body Movement” because many people have negative feelings about the word “Exercise.”
As Dr Handelman says, “It is not easy for a person with ADHD to exercise.”
So I always promote something that is fun and enjoyable that gets the body moving outside in the sun (or the rain!) and fresh air. If rain dampens your spirits, walk in the shopping mall! Leave your wallet at home. 😮
Walking helps Everything
A friend of mine was extremely sick, so sick he could not get out of bed. The doctors could not help him.
He said to his wife, “If I continue to lie here in bed, I will surely die here.”
He asked her to help him stagger forth with a cane.
He said he had learned over a lifetime that “walking helps everything.”
The first day he got only as far as half way down the driveway before he collapsed and his wife had to drag him back to bed.
Day two he got to the end of the driveway before he collapsed.
Would it surprise you to learn that he started to heal from his severe illness?
Walkin’ down the road
He now walks for several miles every day and is “healthy as a horse,” as they say.
He repeats to me, “Walking helps everything.”
And it certainly helps ADHD.
Kids (and adults) who are overwhelmed with a mental task, can take “time out” and move briskly (doing whatever) with the whole body for 20 minutes, and “bring on” several hours of concentrated mental activity. Wow!
Bounce on a mini-trampoline if you don’t like walking.
If you don’t want to bounce, and you can’t go outdoors, just run on the spot. Does wonders!
Sweat a little. It will do you a world of good.
In more ways than one.
Thank you, Dr Kenny!
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Tues, April 14, 2015
Try underwhelming yourself. 😮
Many clients (both ADHD and regular clients) have observed that they easily get overwhelmed and frustrated when they attempt to address projects, or even just “simple” daily living challenges.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try underwhelming yourself. 😮
Easier said than done, eh?
Reducing frustration = reducing overwhelm
Greg Kratz wrote recently about how to overcome the continual threat of frustration.
See it here at deseretnews.com:
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Tuesday, March 10, 2015
P.S. And remember, body movement of any kind, even simple walking outdoors briskly, helps “everything.”
FREEZE THE BODY, FREEZE THE BRAIN
If you freeze the body (limit its movement), you freeze the brain (limit its functioning).
Another way to put this for you is: “Bind your body, bind your brain.”
A positive way to put this for you is: “Free your body, free your brain.”
Doc Meek shows you how to connect the “4-H’s” to join forces with your body and brain.
What are the “4-H’s” of true education? Connecting the Head/Heart/Hands/Hope.
Is your mind more than just your brain? What if you are smarter than you think you are?
– J Collins Meek, PhD, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, March 10, 2015
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Why is Doc Meek so enthusiastic?
You may recall the radio personality, Paul Harvey, from many years ago now? He would do an intriguing “setup” or introductory preamble that would grab your attention, and then he would invite his rapt audience to hear “the rest of the story” after the station break.
Then he would come back on the air with enthusiasm and say, “And now… the rest of the story!”
And so… readers have asked me to tell the more about why I am so enthusiastic about rescuing children from the emotional turmoil of their learning disabilities, or as I prefer to say:
Helping children triumph over their emotional pain, and have fun overcoming their learning difficulties or learning differences.
After all, it is much easier to workaround a learning difficulty or a learning difference, then it is to struggle endlessly with a seemingly fixed learning disability.
There is much more hope in playing with a learning difficulty or a learning difference.
Up the Ladder of “Success”
As I worked on my education degrees, I also worked at becoming an all around educator.
I was a special education teacher, a cross-cultural teacher, a regular school teacher, a school principal, a superintendent of schools, a provincial department of education consultant.
One day, when I was working on a policy statement for a senior official in the provincial department of education, I thought, “Where are the children?”
I had “signed up” to teach children and here I was in the administrative world of education–great work–and where was the direct work with children?
Besides, as I went up through the ranks I could not escape noticing that so many children were suffering in anguish because they either could not learn to read in grade one, or were struggling somewhere along in the grades.
Going “Backwards” into Private Practice
So I made a decision to go into private practice to help kids (and adults) overcome learning difficulties. I was terrified to “go it alone” like this, as I was used to “a regular monthly paycheck.”
It worked out just fine.
I respected the teachers who were trying so hard to help all the kids. And I especially honored the mothers who wanted success for their kids in school with all their hearts and souls.
The mothers “carried the freight” alright and I wanted to help lighten that burden if I could!
I never looked back!
I showed kids face-to-face that they were smarter than they thought!
I also showed teachers and parents how to help their students and children how to use not only their brains, but to remember that we need all of the “4-H’s” to make studying easier and remembering longer:
HEAD/HEART/HANDS/HOPE need connecting for true learning to occur.
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Sat, Dec 6, 2014
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Why do I work so hard to help kids?
So how did I get started?
I didn’t know what career to pursue
When I finished my grade 12 year, I wondered what I should take at University.
I loved the English language, and loved being a member of the debating club, so I thought I might make a good lawyer. I didn’t want to be a corporate lawyer. Too dry and dusty I thought.
I wanted to be a trial lawyer, to handle what I thought would be exciting litigation work in the courtroom. Dramatic arguments in front of the jury and all that.
But then I was concerned that if I went into criminal law, I might end up accepting tainted or stolen money in order to earn a living. So I set that aside.
I was drawn to the world of healing (perhaps because I was so sick when I was younger), so I wondered if I should try to get into medical school. My Dad, a journeyman electrician, had a modest income and I felt that even if I worked hard to earn extra money (which I was doing all along), I could probably not afford the high tuition fees demanded by medical schools.
I did not want to run up a $200,000 student debt as some of my friends were proposing to do. (The equivalent medical student loan now runs to $350,000 – $400,000, I’m told.)
Yes, I could repay the debt out of my future physician income, but I have always been pretty cautious about debt.
(A friend of mine ran up a huge student loan debt, and then was struck down with an extremely rare medical condition and was unable to finish his medical degree, so he was/is “toast” in terms of income, both present and future.)
As my dear friend said: “It’s difficult to predict… especially the future.” :O
What would have the most impact long-term?
I thought about the impact of being a good lawyer, or being a good doctor, and I felt that the effects of my work with my clients or patients might, in one sense, be relatively short-lived.
Because it began to dawn on me (maybe because of something I was reading) that teaching, even though it wasn’t necessarily well-paying, could have long-term or even permanent effects if done well. All through mortality perhaps, and maybe even on into eternity if I turned out to be an outstandingly inspirational teacher.
Provided the students were learning well. And loved learning.
I was always such a learning sponge, voracious reader, knowledge “addict,” and ultimately an enthusiastic lifelong learner, that I wanted that for everybody I guess!
I became a fiery advocate of lifelong learning for all, and I realized that for struggling kids in school, that wouldn’t happen if they were learning to hate learning.
All kids should have a chance to love learning!
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Nov 25, 2014
Here’s the reminder from Pat Wyman of HowtoLearn.com: Last day of Big Back to School Giveaway 2014! – Doc Meek
- videos from the World’s Fastest Reader on speed learning, memory, reading and more
- Awaken the Scholar Within Program
- SOS Organization Binder
- Complimentary Consultations .
- Digital Book on Feelings
- Academic GamePlan complete student excellence programs
- Invite-Only Complimentary Kindle Best-Selling Author Course
Between September 24th and 30th, HowtoLearn.com is proud to announce our annual Big Back to School Giveaway 2014.
We’re grateful to the Office Depot Foundation for their donations to this program, as well as the Deck and Headset from Sol Republic, and all the back to school items from our HowtoLearn.com Experts.
You’ll find complimentary:
videos from the World’s Fastest Reader on speed learning, memory, reading and more
Awaken the Scholar Within Program
SOS Organization Binder
Complimentary Consultations [Among others, you’re in here, Doc!].
Digital Book on Feelings
Academic GamePlan complete student excellence programs
Invite-Only Complimentary Kindle Best-Selling Author Course
So head on over and enjoy all the Complimentary Items this year and let all your friends know about the Big Back to School Giveaway at HowtoLearn.com
The Center for New Discoveries in Learning, Inc., 4535 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 200, Las Vegas, NV 89102
Warmly, Pat Wyman
P.S. Let all your contacts know about our Big School Giveaway at HowtoLearn.com!
Today I am grateful for developmental optometrists–such as Dr Margaret Penny of Calgary, Alberta, Canada–who have helped many students overcome reading difficulties. – Doc Meek
Image from: 123rf.com
Visual training may be required
to overcome reading difficulties
Sharon (not her real name) was bright and vivacious, and still struggling with reading in Grade 5. She strained and strained when trying to read and often got headaches. Her school marks suffered despite her strong intelligence.
Her Mom was mystified.
“We had her eyes tested and she has perfect vision. The school nurse told us her vision is 20/20 and she doesn’t need glasses.”
“Good vision involves more than 20/20 eyesight,” I said.
Sharon and her Mom were even more mystified when I said:
“The eyes don’t see–the brain sees.”
“What do you mean?” they both chimed, almost with one voice.
“Reading involves more than 20/20 eyesight,” I said. “The eyes and brain are required to perform an array of complex and coordinated tasks to read well, and to comprehend what is being read.”
See a developmental optometrist
I asked Mom and Sharon to make an appointment with an eye doctor–an ophthalmologist–to check for general eye health and possible astigmatism (imperfections in the shape of the lens of the eye). Sharon returned with a glowing report.
“OK, good,” I said. “I’ve watched you read, Sharon, and I would now like you to find a good developmental optometrist–not a regular optometrist–a developmental optometrist who can give you an assessment of what exactly your eyes and brain are doing when you try to read.”
I told Sharon and her Mom that visual training supervised by a developmental optometrist may be required.
“But,” said Mom, “the eye doctor told us that Sharon had no problems with her eyes.”
“He also told us that there is no evidence that visual training helps a student read better.”
I said that is what they taught the doctors in medical school and the doctors did not pursue it further when they got into private practice.
“As a neurological learning specialist,” I said, “I have found that visual training can make the difference between school failure and school success.”
Sure enough, Sharon’s eyes and brain
were not performing well for reading tasks
After the initial visit with the developmental optometrist, and meeting with several other students who were taking visual training to help with reading competence, Sharon spent many weeks training her eyes and brain to work together to perform the complicated and coordinated tasks required for easy reading.
Sharon’s marks at school soared as she practiced her visual training skills at the developmental optometrist’s clinic and at home and at school.
The outstanding developmental optometrist Sharon and her Mom went to was Dr Margaret Penny.
Here is a brief description of her work, from Sundre Vision Care near Calgary, Alberta, Canada:
“Dr Margaret Penny also has a Masters Degree in Educational psychology. She has a special interest and passion in working with children and adults who have visually related learning difficulties, tracking, focusing and binocular dysfunctions, and perceptual delays. Vision therapy and rehabilitation of these problems has been an integral part of her practice.”
Thank you, Dr Penny, for saving many a student from school despair!
Doc Meek, South Jordan, Utah, Wed, Sept 24, 2014