The ongoing reflective home of the New York City Social Studies CFG.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Control

I won't be able to attend the meeting next Monday, so my response to the "control" challenge is below. 

Teach a lesson where you spend no more than 5 minutes at the beginning of class giving your class directions to do something, ideally in groups, or as a whole group. Sit down and do not interact with students until the last 3 minutes of the period. Bring a report on how it went back to us next month.

I did this by posting this before class and telling them only that their challenge was on Twitter. (If Twitter is blocked for you right now, my tweet links to this google doc.) We'd talked about the hashtag before (I mean, the class is called #disastercamp), so some of them figured out how to find it (the project is connected to their understanding of social media) and they went from there. I clarified questions for 5 minutes and let them work. Earlier in the week, we looked at how social media is changing disaster response - so this was their opportunity to engage with that in a quick, design-y way. They enjoyed it + I think it was useful for them to figure it out themselves. More info about the class is available here:

The best activity I've done similar to this one is the Project Runway IKEA bag (or grocery bag) challenge, where we spend five minutes at the beginning distributing materials and assigning "clients," and then spend 45 minutes constructing a garment. More related to social studies, I'm currently having my cartography class figure out how to create a scale model of the globe on a paper mache balloon (see for an example). Aside from the instructions on paper mache, I've given very little instruction about how to get to the point Lizzy is at in that image. They have to figure out 1) lat/lon lines are critical, and 2) how to accurately position those. It usually takes them an hour or two to get to that point - many students begin with trying to find a ratio between the size of their balloon and the size of the model globe, which they quickly discover is not useful for determining accurate position. The globe project was inspired by John Fladd at

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