Wednesday, May 6, 2015

End of the Year?!?!

Moving from Massachusetts to Arizona has been an eye-opener in many ways!  Of course, the weather is different—while my former town was shoveling out from under eight feet of snow, I was walking around in T-shirts and sandals in Tucson.  It also takes a lot longer to get from one place to another because distances are farther in Arizona; if it took 20 minutes to drive somewhere in MA, that was kind of far, whereas here in AZ, I now consider that close.  And the land just looks different—green grass and woods compared to desert sand and cacti.
Contrasting aspects of Massachusetts & Arizona education
Massachusetts; source: The ESL Nexus
Contrasting aspects of Massachusetts & Arizona education
Arizona; source: The ESL Nexus
But what has really struck me is the difference in the school calendar.  Tucson students get days off for the Rodeo in February.  Massachusetts students get the third week of April off, to celebrate Patriots Day that Monday, when the Revolutionary War began (and the Boston Marathon is run).
Contrasting aspects of Massachusetts & Arizona education
Team roping at the Tucson Rodeo; source: Wikimedia Commons
Contrasting aspects of Massachusetts & Arizona education
Old North Bridge, site of the first shots fired in the Battle Concord in 1775; source: The ESL Nexus
I knew that other states did not start and end at the same time as Massachusetts school districts, especially in the South.  But in Tucson, Arizona, school for students started on July 31, 2014.  That is the middle of summer for MA students and teachers!  Massachusetts students don’t typically start until right before or just after Labor Day, in September.  In Tucson, the last day of the school year is May 21, 2015.  That’s less than three weeks away!  In the Massachusetts district I used to work in, school won’t be over until the very end of June.  That’s a difference of five weeks!

To be thinking about the end of the school year at the beginning of May is something new for me.  So to help me get in the mood, I created a couple of products that give students an opportunity to review what they learned in their Social Studies classes by doing a fun writing assignment.
Contrasting aspects of Massachusetts & Arizona education
World History & US History products by The ESL Nexus
Each writing task is in the form of a RAFTS prompt (Role, Audience, Format, Topic, Strong verb).  The length of time for the lesson will vary depending on how much of it is done in class and how much at home.  I plan to create similar types of end-of-the-year products for Science and English Language Arts classes as well.  Here are the links to each one:

World History product: The World is Ending!
US History product: And the Winner Is...

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!