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January 29, 2013

Mission Projects!

I know I've shared a bit about my Mission Projects in the past.  I enjoy creating a little research book with my students to begin with and we use different websites, texts, and old calendar pages to learn about the specific missions.  It takes 3-4 solid weeks to learn about a mission a day.  I usually tackle this between Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations.  

California Mission Research Book

I have shared how I made up this research book to use with my kiddos next year.  I only wish I created it before the fact... it would have saved me quite the hassle earlier on.  Not that it's a hard thing to do using binder paper, but I think this next year I will print off a copy for each student to use for their research notes, just to make sure they are covering all the different areas. Maybe by giving them a graphic organizer for their research it will help guide them.

Mission Research Report & Project Guidelines with Grading Rubric

My mission project I give to my students before Christmas break and they have until the end of January to bring them in.  It's a full 10 page report when it's all put together.  When they come in, we usually tackle the presentations first since that is what they are most excited about. 

They also have to complete a Visual Art project - a choice of building a mission, making a brochure with pictures and information, or visiting the mission and creating a powerpoint/video of it  I don't specify not using a mission kit.  I really don't care since this is the fun part (and the main part of the project is the research report).  I did ask around to other teachers about what the scoop was years ago with not having students use kits, and the response I had heard was it was due to money.  I guess kits used to cost a ton of money, but nowadays it is all basically the same as getting other supplies and creating it.  I really don't care what the missions are made out of as long as it show the students tried to make it look like their specific mission, in their missions layout, with the different areas of the property showing... meaning not just a single building sitting on an empty board.  

Last week missions came into the classroom.  The borders of my classroom have been covered by Mission San Antonio, Mission San Francisco de Asis, and many many others.  They came up front last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to present.  I asked them specific things afterward - What was your favorite part of this project?  What exactly was your part in building it/creating it? What was your favorite fact about your mission?

When they were sharing the other students also had work to do.  I don't know if it's just me, but I have to take notes during a presentation/meeting.  If I don't write notes about the material, then I tend to daydream... anyhow my listeners wrote fun facts about each child's presentation.  Their notes are part of their grade as well.

-Just imagine a picture of the fun facts listening page here :) -

For their notes we just took a piece of copy paper, folded it 4 times  - 2 vertical half folds, then 2 horizontal half folds - to make 16 squares on the front side (32 total).  They wrote our classroom numbers into each square to begin with, and when students went up front they wrote a fun fact they learned from that student in that specific square.  It kept them engaged.  After presentations, after my questions, before we move onto the next child, I always have my presenter get to choose 3 students to receive compliments.  It helps with the transition between students.  Later on in the day they also have the opportunity of using their fun fact sheet to write on index cards to fill the buckets of others that they wanted to compliment but may not have been chosen.  It works.     

Friday afternoon I finally had a chance to start pulling kids to show me their Mission Reports.  When I started giving this report years ago I would take all the reports home and try to grade them... ultimately feeling overwhelmed and exhausted since it was confusing as to where the students stuck the different elements inside (even when the directions told them exactly how to do it).  The past couple of years it has been a breeze since I call over 2 or 3 students at a time to show me their reports.  They sit with me at my table, they have their reports, and I have my grading checklist.  At this point I'm not grading their writing - that will come later, but I ask them the different areas and they have to turn and show me in their booklets.

It goes something like this...
"Please turn to your Table of Contents." The students flip there, and I mark it down on their individual scoring checklist.  "Please turn to the map of California."  They turn there as well.  The kids that forgot an element look to their neighbor and the neighbor can guide them to what exactly they should be finding... and I'm not stuck flipping through 32 books later on.  We go through all of the different elements that should be included, the students then know straight away if they are missing something, and then I take the reports home to focus on just grading their actual writing.

So how do I grade all these parts?

The written report has 2 areas - it goes into both S.S. and Writing.

The Visual Art project is completely S.S.

The Oral Presentation is both a S.S. grade (to prove they know what they are talking about) as well as an E,S,N for their report card's oral presentation grade.

The Fun Fact Listener Sheet is a S.S. grade.

It's a lot of grades, but everything is so important 
and I feel that it all balances it out.  

Hope you have a great day!  I'm excited - not only because it's my son's 3rd birthday, but also because we get to take all the mission buildings to the library today to show off.  I get my floor back!

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