I knew right from the first week with them, that for this class, I would need to change how I was used to teaching. Seat work , pencil and paper style learning, just wouldn’t fly as the ‘norm’ with this group. I spent quite amount of time re-doing most of my unit and lessons plans to make sure that they were hands-on, interactive, and out-of-seat work. Perfect for a wiggly class.
One of the units I reworked in the fall was my Geography and Mapping unit. Out the door went my booklets teaching my students to identify provinces, territories, and geographical locations. I think that it's always daunting to have to throw out what is familiar, and convenient. I already have pre-made mapping units that are seat-based... but they are one size fits all. And this class... they are definitely many sizes! So I took on the challenge of creating a unit that was just for them!
I found large maps in a Kids Magazine my school orders, and laminated 10 copies. During Geography, we moved the desks to the side, and learned about geography in groups of 2 or 3. Each pair/group was given a pack of task cards, a map on the floor, and a chance to lay out and be as wiggly as they’d like!
Other days, I projected giant maps onto the whiteboard, and we quizzed each other!
“Can you locate two provinces east of Ontario?”
“Tap Lake Erie three times!”
“Draw a circle on a province that has forestry as a resource…
We practice locating eastern provinces, prairie provinces, territories, great lakes… all while tapping our fingers, sitting, standing, squatting, spinning. Finding a way to combine movement with geography/mapping made this one of my most successful units to date!
I learned a lot about myself as a teacher through creating this new unit. While pulling out a 'tried and true' unit may be what is easier for me, I know that it is not always in the best interests of the kids in my classroom. I've learned that sometimes, no matter how much extra work it is, I will need to start completely from scratch. It was totally worth it.