Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Amazon Review of the New Deal

Ok...so it's been a little while since my last blog post. I've been a bit busy. But that doesn't mean that I haven't had ideas of posts ready to type. Time has been on the short side this last semester.

I want to start out the new year with an activity idea that I got from a conversation with one of the best in our state, T.J. Warsnak. Who in turn got the idea from talking with one of our former KS Teacher of the Year, Sam Neill. (See how the magic of a PLN works?)
Follow them on twitter @thewarsnak and @SJNeill13

The idea is to have students give an "Amazon Review" of a moment, event, or policy in history. I think the original idea was one for teachers to use to reflect on our school year. Give yourself a 5-Star Amazon Review, then give yourself a 1-Star. What did you do well? What do you need to do to improve? TJ thought this would work for content.

And it does.

The conversation was perfect timing. We were just about to start our unit on the Great Depression and I figured I could use this for having kids give BOTH a 5-Star and 1-Star review of FDR's New Deal Programs. After some sharing and emailing back and forth with TJ and @coachschutte (another teacher rockstar in my PLN) this is what I ended up giving to the students.


1. I created this Google Slide template to push to the kids in classroom giving each student his/her own copy. >>>CLICK HERE FOR TEMPLATE

2. At the suggestion of Derek Schutte, I included review examples of the Rumba, so kids could see how something could have both a 1-star and 5-star review. Plus both reviews were great to show students how specific examples and reasons for the review...which would, of course, be required in their assignment.

3. We talked about how reviews can be very helpful to potential buyers, but that not all reviews are helpful. The more specific details someone gives for the reason behind the star ranking the more "useful" the review is to the reader. Their task is to create a very helpful review.

4. This was done after we had completed a SHEG activity on the New Deal and looked at both positive and negative outcomes. (Find that lesson here)

5. Each student was required to create BOTH a 5-Star and 1-Star review. Explaining both the good things and not-so-good things about this program. They had to list specific details to support their reasoning from the evidence they studied in the SHEG activity and learned in class discussions, assignments, and lectures.
REFLECTION:
  • Great activity! I love that it gets kids writing, but in a different format. So much of the time in school their writing assignments are more formal. This is more of a casual writing assignment that is relevant to kids in their everyday lives. They will, or have, written reviews online about a product or service. This assignment can give kids the chance to practice a different form of writing, but writing that still requires you to support your claim. 
  • I love the flexibility of this. I can use this for programs, events, people...all kinds of topics that come up in social studies. 
  • I also love that I can use this for non-history type things as well. Reflection for the students on themselves at the end of the semester...what they did well and what needed work. This could even be the end of the semester evaluation for me, the teacher. What did I do that would earn me a 5 star Amazon review? What would cause me to get a 1? Just a different spin on ways to provide feedback. 
  • Finally, if you didn't pick up on it through the post, this activity was a combination of conversations and sharing ideas and feedback between teachers around our state. We don't work in the same building, but because of the connections made both online and at conferences we are able to collaborate on activities in the classroom. Surround yourself with those who make you better! 

Give it a try! Let me know how it goes!

And chat up that PLN...ideas are everywhere!

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