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|Retired Army Colonel Warren Curd shows two fourth-graders a non-operational 200-year-old rifle that was used in the Civil War|
Learning about the military
Retired Army Colonel Warren J. Curd recently visited Tinc Road and delivered a presentation to the fourth grade on the U.S. military. Speaking in honor of Veterans Day, Colonel Curd discussed the various branches of the military, the differences between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, U.S. flag history and proper flag etiquette, and New Jersey’s role in the American Revolution.
Of particular interest to students was the key part our area played in the nation’s fight for independence. After winning major battles against the British army in Trenton, the Continental Army spent the winter of 1777 (and also 1779-80) in Morristown. The students learned too that New Jersey was the site of more battles against the British than any other state and was known as the Crossroads of the Revolution.
The colonel also brought in an artifact from his military history collection: a non-functioning rifle nearly 200 years old. The long flintlock, crafted around 1816 and later modified for use in the Civil War, was used to help describe the loading method of these rifles and their limited capabilities and effective ranges. Pouring in gunpowder then using a ramrod to squash down the metal ball and wadding is a far cry from the simple magazine loading of today’s rifles that the kids are accustomed to seeing in action movies and video games.
Colonel Curd, the father of fourth grade teacher Rebecca Hopler, served in Vietnam and taught ROTC at Seton Hall. Part of his presentation was designed on the fourth grade social studies curriculum, which includes the study of New Jersey history.
|Allie Sussman works on her blog|
Using blogs as teaching tools
Some Tinc Road third grade and fifth grade teachers such as Laura Campione and Christie Hearn are using blogs in their classrooms as important teaching and communication tools.
The blogs, done through Kidblog.com, provide a host of benefits. It’s first and foremost a celebration of student writing and a portfolio of student work done throughout the year – a resource that parents can access to see the work of their children and the entire class all in one place.
Beyond that, the blogs function as communication and collaboration methods. Students can work together on essays, short stories, and outlines as well as post helpful comments on the work of classmates. This feedback is particularly useful in the prewriting stage when students are generating and sharing ideas or after kids complete first drafts of assignments.
Teachers can also send private messages to students regarding their work.
“The students love sharing and both giving and receiving feedback this way,” said Mrs. Hearn, who has been using blogs for three years in her classes. “It’s taught them how to comment critically about the work of others in a positive, constructive way.”
Sometimes students will first work on assignments on paper then key in the material at a later date; other times, the students write directly into the blog. It all depends on the teacher and the activity.
The blogs are used to share work done in many subject areas, not just language arts. For example, Ms. Campione’s class recently shared Powerpoint presentations about volcanoes that the students prepared in science and Mrs. Hearn’s class shared research done on the ways different animals adapt to their environments.
Of course, the blogs also provide students with opportunities to practice their computer skills and keyboarding. Since the PARCC exams – the new language arts and math assessments being rolled out this spring – will be done exclusively on computers and tablets, it’s become even more important for elementary students to be comfortable and proficient technology users.
“The blogs are motivating for students,” said Ms. Campione. “They love using laptops in class and posting their work. I think it makes them feel like adults. Without the blogs, student writing would just sit in a folder somewhere having just been read by the teacher and the student who wrote it. Now, since other people are seeing the assignments, the kids are taking more ownership and pride in their work.”
The blogs are private and not available to be read by the general public. A class’s blogs are only accessible by that class’s teacher, students, and parents.