Good morning, friends and colleagues. I apologize that it has been quite awhile since the last pots, but it has been quite a time around here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship. This morning, I am very excited to bring you our first teacher authored post! Deborah Newlan is a Civics Teacher at Lake Nona Middle School, and she is eager to share with us her exciting approach to student engagement. So without further ado, I give you Deborah Newlan and ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’!

For a week and a half I have used the “Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snicket as a launching pad for my Civics students as bell work. I read the beginning of the story to my students and then day by day I am posting excerpts from the story which contain something I can somehow connect to a concept we have studied or will be studying in Civics this year. The students read the excerpt and then read and copy the question and answer choices. We have clicker response ware, so they put their selected answer into the clicker and then write their answer choice. Each answer choice is expected to have a reason why it is the correct answer or is not the correct answer. The students seem more engaged in this way of reviewing the material than in years past when I simply used the sample EOC questions from the Item Specs booklet. I have attached the powerpoint to this post. Some of the questions are better than others, but I have found out some valuable information by doing this. For example, I found out that some students did not remember our discussion about Government Services and how they related to Public Services such as public utilities, water, sewer, electricity, roads, etc. I asked a question about riding on a street through the city and the answer related to the question was “public services.” I included a “hint” to look at their ISN (interactive notebook) pages L6 and R6 which had required students to write what they had done from the moment they got up until they arrived at school, and a circle map on government. We had discussed at length how the government provides public services. However, some students had not added out discussion to their notes, so I had a student ask me how it was a hint when all L6 and R6 talked about was government! So, we discussed again the relationship between our government and public services such as utilities and roads. This let me know that I need to do more checking after we discuss things and create more explicit notes and graphic organizers for students to remember content. I have found the review through this bell work to be more fun and more useful than anything else I have done so far.

Here is the powerpoint as an example of what she does here! A Series of Unfortunate Events in the Lives of Some Unlucky British Citizens %28to increase Civics Vocabulary%29