Thursday, July 26, 2007

Novels with a Historical Connection

Blue Balliett wrote several novels that we used in our classroom with great success. Her first book was Chasing Vermeer, a mystery developed around a missing painting by Johannes Vermeer. The second book, The Wright 3, had the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House as its main focus. I really liked the historical connection in the novels and the kids immediately warmed to the main characters. I liked the connections with primary sources; the paintings, the blueprints, the original photos.

I wrote curriculum for each book with a heavy emphasis on technology and the Internet. We did our first classroom wiki as a culminating project for our reading of The Wright 3. I discussed the wiki in a previous post Wikis in the Classroom.

I've read several other novels with a historical connection. I have not used Endymoin Spring by Matthew Skelton in the classroom, but there is a lot of potential in it---it's all about the power of the book. We might read it this Spring. The other book, which our students loved, was The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It is a marvel---I didn't write a curriculum but there are so many connections to old movies and movie makers--definately a must read but students really need their own copy since 1/2 of the 300+ pages are illustrations. Let me know if you run across any other novels with a historical connection. These Da'Vinci Code like books for kids makes great gifted curriculum.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Titanic in the Classroom

Be on the lookout for something new. Titanic in the Classroom was originally developed by the Department of Education & Children Services, Southern Australia I contacted them in June 2007 to ask if I could use some of their activities in a Titanic curriculum I was writing to use in the fall. I looked for Wayne Starick, the original webmaster, he was no where it be found. Eventually I found Henry Legedza, Corporate Web Administrator and he informed me that they were getting ready to disassemble the site. The Titanic in the Classroom site seemed to be the only site with a "searchable" Titanic database so I asked if I could re-construct the site. Luckily, Mr. Legedza said "yes".

So I have reconstructed the original site and am adding much more including the curriculum we will use. Please check out the new site Titanic in the Classroom now and again and see how things are progressing. As of today the database is the only weak link. Hopefully in the next few months I will find someone to get it up and running.