I have a new job working on writing curriculum for extensions where I pull the top 15% of students from a grade level and work with them on the same content in the classroom, but at a higher level. I am struggling trying to form ideas for our 8th grade American History Class. I want them to work online either collaborating with each other(I see them different periods of the day) or with other students on a project. The topics that I have been trying to focus on are

Constitution
Civil War
American Culture - from the beginning to today

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. My brain is fried from trying to create projects for grades 4-8 in language arts, science, and social studies and then teaching them at the same time.

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Use Edmodo or Wikispaces to have students research the lives of soldiers, young children, parents (assign each student a "character" - such as Confederate soldier) then have them write "diary entries" that will give facts about their lives. You could easily have them work in groups as a "family" one student the dad, one the mom, one a daughter and another a son. By assigning families they will have to collaborate on their stories.
Just a thought! ENJOY!
I love this collaboration concept. I really like this. Thank you for the idea. My gears are turning.
Aaron, History is not my area but I will offer a thought. Specific people in history have accomplished specific goals. Their goals where set by there beliefs. Would it be possible to assign or let each student pick a person from history and have them rewrite history. The question would be....What would this person have had to do to insure the exact opposite outcome of what has taken place in history? Hand out a blank calendar sheet for one month prior to the historical event and have each student, playing the part of the person in history, make a diary entry each day for one month leading up to the famous event. But with the goal to change the outcome. Who in history would now be their allies? Where would they need to go for support? What would they hope to gain? How could it have changed history?
Good Luck
Awesome Idea! I might have to do this. Thanks for the help.
I am currently using your idea to create a project. Have you done something similar to this in your classroom? If so, how did you go about the project? Was not sure if you just brainstormed the idea or if you actually have used this strategy in another way. Thanks
Aaron, I noticed you mentioned Language Arts.
Take a look at this book. http://books.google.com/books?id=KdpDAAAAIAAJ&dq=New+Standard+B...
I have one of the originals. It is funny to provide a social letter of correspondence as written in the late 1800's and have student try to respond to the letters in both eras, then and now.
If the above link does not get you there search "New Standard Business and Social Letter Writer by Alfred B. Chambers"
I will have to check this out also. Perfect!
When I was in 8th grade history my gifted class was one unit ahead of all the other classes. We did newspapers for each unit with a different group each time that the teacher then (or at least claimed to) used with his other classes when they caught up to the unit. This definitely appealed to the gifted kid in me, knowing that what I was producing actually meant something. It was a definite shift from they "oh boy, I'm gifted! Now I get to do more work."

This was 16 years ago now though so obviously some updates are in order. Perhaps they could do a wiki with the purpose of it being used for others. I really think giving it that purpose helps a ton.

That said, I teach 7th grade gifted history and the only major difference is how much choice I give them in assignments, how much inquiry I use in instruction (I play through my ARG with them for example) and my expectations of their work. Given the extremely tight pacing we're on there just isn't much room to change much else.
I agree with activities being relevant and serving a purpose. My situation is unique in that I actually pull the top students out for 2-3 weeks from a content class i.e. social studies, language arts, science. During this time I work with them on the same content as the general ed teacher, but the approach and/or activities are at a higher level. I really like the idea of having them create something that others can use. I did something similar to what you mentioned last year in my general ed classroom(I changed jobs) using a wiki that all students could use. I will have to explore these thoughts that you suggested in more detail because I think that you are so right with the usefulness of the product/learning.

By the way I did create an ARG last year as you posted your information. Maybe that is something the students could create based on the unit of study.

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