Category Archives: Social Studies

Take Your Students on a Virtual Field Trip To Africa

How does a trip to Africa sound? Your school doesn’t have the budget for that? No worries! If you teach grades 3-8 – listen up!

Virtual Field Trip to Africa

Nature Works Everywhere and field scientist Charles Oluchina have joined forces to provide a live virtual field trip to the deserts and grasslands of Africa! I know, right? Pretty cool!

Virtual Field Trip to Africa


What will you experience on this amazing virtual adventure?

You and your students will visit Burkino Faso and learn how one African farmer helped bring back forest lands that were being lost to desertification. Then, you’ll head to Kenya to learn about the importance of grasslands and the effects of ecotourism. And all from the comfort of your own classroom! Technology rocks! Oh wait? Did I mention that this is all free? Yep! You just need to register and you’re set!


A Google Hangout  is being used for the VFT which is so smart! The VFT to Africa is streamed live on YouTube, on February 5th, at 12:00pm Eastern Time, or you can view it at your convenience. The field trip is about 40 minutes in length – which is great because that is about the length of a class period. You and your students will also get a firsthand look at a PBS LearningMedia collection of videos, digital games and educational resources from the new PBS series EARTH A New Wild.

In case you are interested but worried about dedicating the class time to such an event, here are the key terms and concepts that will be addressed during the VFT: People and Conservation, Desertification, Global Agriculture, Smart Development, Ecotourism, Habitat, Grasslands, Reforestation. Not only that, students will learn the science behind how nature works for us—and how we can help keep it running strong. 


Nature Works Everywhere and The Nature Conservancy have lots of other resources to check out as well.


Farming the Desert | EARTH A New Wild from The Nature Conservancy on Vimeo.


If you choose to attend the VFT, please come back and comment how it went!

Virtual Field Trip to Africa

Literal Questions, Like Everything Else in Life – Are Fine in Moderation

I never ask my students the “What street did the character live on?” type of questions. I wouldn’t say that they’re a waste of time, but students can just go back to the text and put their finger on the answer. Fairly straightforward.

 Most – I’d say 99% of the time, I try to focus on inferential and evaluative questions in my classes – Social Studies, Language Arts and Health. Much like you, I’m sure, I want to push my students’ thinking.

Well, as I was planning the other night, I thought that for once – I was just going to have them read a section of text and answer 10 questions (this was for Social Studies). Old school, right?

Literal Questions

Well, first of all, one of the 10 questions was inferential and they sniffed it out in no time. To make a long story short, I was amazed at how these kids just put their heads down and worked for the 40 minute class, finding the answers to some basic comprehension questions. No one said it was boring. No one complained. No one. You’d think I’d given them a gift!

And you know what? They did the same activity today. Read…10 questions. I could never (and would never want to) teach like this on a regular basis. I try to make my students’ brains stretch until they hurt (just a little). However, for the week before Christmas Break, it is survival mode for many.

Give yourself (and the kids) a break and go back to basics at times like these. Let them answer some literal questions once in a while. It won’t hurt them, and it builds up confidence – especially for those who struggle.

middle school lessons from the middle school blog canadian blog, middle school math photo

Middle School Freebies ~ Lessons, Activities and Printables

free middle school resources photoI’ve been getting lots of traffic on my “Freebies” page from blog followers and visitors. It occurred to me, though, that maybe not everyone has looked beyond the homepage of Lessons From The Middle.

 I just had a peek at the Middle School Freebies collection that I started a while back, and I noticed that it was up to 71 links (as of today)! That’s pretty cool. So, just in case you haven’t already seen this collection of freebies – here it is! Grab a cup of coffee and download away.

 There are free resources of all sorts and for the most part, vary from grades 4 – 9. Again, this collection is located on the FREEBIES tab, if you’d like to find it again in the future.

Oh, and if you have a middle school freebie that you’d like to add – by all means – please do so!

This link-up is part of Teaching Blog Addict’s Ulimate Linky Party!

TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

middle school lessons from the middle school blog canadian blog, middle school math photo

Using “Factory Girl” by Barbara Greenwood As A Middle School Read Aloud

Okay, so I bit the bullet and have tried my very first VIDEO post. I told myself I never would (the whole being in front of the camera thing) but – here we are. I know how much I enjoy others’ video posts on all sorts of topics – and so I thought I’d try one for a change on pace.


Below you’ll find my video blog post on “Factory Girl” by Barbara Greenwood. Enjoy!


Man…I should have straightened my hair…oh well…don’t make too much fun;)





Lessons from the middle, canadian teacher blog, middle school lessons

I got new school stuff!!!

Picture it. You’re at Staples (just fill in your favorite teacher store here). You can smell the Crayola…and you know that you’re home! Alright, I know that you all get excited about colorful post-its, new Sharpies and fancy bulletin board borders too.

Well, I decided to share about some treasures that I purchased on my yearly trek to Scholar’s Choice – the closest “Teacher Store” to me. It’s not even close, really. Out of province, actually;) But every year, for the last number of years, when my hubby and I take a trip across the Confederation Bridge, leaving little ole’ Prince Edward Island behind, I have to add “The Teacher Store” as I call it, to our itinerary (even though, ironically – we’re usually there when school has just ended).

I got some great “school stuff” this year and I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you so that my poor husband doesn’t have to pretend that he cares what I bought for the new school year;)

organizing, back to school, lessons from the middle


One thing that I would really like to improve this year in my classroom, is my organization. I look into other teachers’ classrooms and they are like well-oiled machines. I don’t feel like I’m there, yet. I’m still figuring out what I like, what helps me and my students and what maybe I thought was going to work, but didn’t. Right now, all of my math manipulatives are in labelled, blue totes. I’ve decided that it annoys me, though, to not be able to see what’s in the totes! So, I bought these clear bins at Costco –  nothing special about them – just regular storage bins. But they’re clear. Okay, so this is where Hubby would start to tune out;)

Also in this picture is one of my faves to help organize my students – plastic page protectors. For some reason, even my more careless students could hang on to things that were in page protectors. It’s almost as if they think, “Well if this piece of paper is important enough for her to pass out protectors to everyone – I better not lose it!” Works for me! I give them out for the REALLY important papers or to store their work in that may be in progress (post cards, posters) things that aren’t in a scribbler and that shouldn’t be hole punched. It may sound silly, but for certain students – they’ve been a lifesaver. Even if they don’t go and put them into the binder, at least the paper is less likely to get lost in the protector.

Finally, I got 3 new pocket charts to help me organize some of my paper work. I am someone who always has stacks on my table up front and it drives me crazy! I’ve realized it’s only because I haven’t come up with a better plan for myself than the filing cabinet. I need an in-between filing place until the papers get where they need to be. Rather than taking up more table space, I’ve decided to use the wall space for filing. So, I plan to use these hanging pocket charts on my bulletin board up front for referral forms, lunch forms, tracking sheets, bus notes, parent notes to me, school newsletters, extra hand outs. I bought three, because I may also use them for math centers and games. I’m very excited at the prospect of having a tidier work area at the front of my room. I’m no different from my students. I need the tools to be organized and then I’ll be able to do a better job!

longitude and latitude, lessons from the middle, math activity

Desk-top World Map


I love this desk-top map that I found, as well. Our first unit in Math is Coordinate Geometry and so I have big plans for this little map to use in a center on plotting points. (In hindsight, I should have gotten more than one…) It’ll also be perfect for Social Studies activities/centers that I may do throughout the year.

Also for Social Studies, I found EXCELLENT posters on Canadian Government which are aligned with my curriculum. Of course they’re not just posters  – they also have activities on the back for students and short pieces to read, as well. Again – stations!!!

Finally, for Social Studies, I found History of Canada glossy magazine-type resources that have just the MOST important information, with lots of color and pictures and then questions on the back of the resource. I got two of these, because I’ll always have modified students, or those on IEPs who will really benefit from the way this information is laid out. I also have the option to incorporate these resources into centers, but I see using them with students who can’t handle all of the information from the regular textbook and who are on their own plan.

Canadian Government Posters and Activities, lessons from the middle

Canadian Government Posters and Activities

Social Studies Activities, lessons from the middle

Social Studies Activities


Just For Fun!, Lessons From The Middle

Sharpies and Borders and Birthdays, oh my!

And finally, to add a little color and fun, check out my CUTE bulletin board borders and value pack of sharpies and pens! Why do I get excited over office supplies? I don’t know – but I don’t think I’m alone!

This year I got Birthday certificates to use in my class and they also come with tear off bookmarks – which I thought was a fun little extra. I also purchased my first “cootie catchers” for elements of a narrative – fun, include the main points that I need to cover, colorful… all in all a good buy!

Okay, I’m done sharing for now. I got some other great stuff too, that I’ll share another day.

So tell me, what’s your guilty pleasure when you go back to school shopping for your classroom? What do you get super excited about? Please share, so that I don’t feel lonely surrounded by my markers, posters and other goodies;)

Lessons from the middle, canadian teacher blog, middle school lessons

A Freebie for You: Organizing Social Studies Projects For Any Content

It’s been sooo busy the last few days! We are still in school until the 29th of June, here on PEI.  I teach Grade 7 who “graduate” this year and will be heading to the high school (grades 8-12) next year. Lots of “end of the year” and “grad” activities on the go these days!

That being said, I’ve got just a quick post today to let you know about my latest freebie.

I had posted a little while ago about a way to differentiate in the classroom, specifically through projects. (You can check out the original post for all of the info.) I know that a few of you were interested in the rubrics that I used for the projects and more info on how I set things up. So…here’s a copy of what I used this year in my classroom: Organizing Social Studies Projects for Any Content.

Have a look – you may want to tuck it away for next year.

The most recent projects that my students completed had to do with the beginnings of Canada. I’ve shared a few photos below.  They did a great job! Other projects that aren’t pictured…one student wrote a letter from the perspective of a settler, two groups created games, and one group created a video presentation.

Social Studies Projects, lessons from the middle

The Metis and the Buffalo Hunt (Drawing/Collage)

Social Studies Projects, lessons from the middle

Confederation (Drawing A Map)

Social Studies Projects, lessons from the middle

Confederation and PEI (Drawing and Oral Presentation)

Social Studies Projects, lessons from the middle

Buffalo Hunt (Drawing and Game)

Social Studies Projects, lessons from the middle

Confederation (Summary and Drawing)

My students really enjoyed these projects this year. I’ll be looking into doing more of these next year for sure! Now…to add more technology into the mix…

Lessons from the middle, canadian teacher blog, middle school lessons