Writing stories to younger grades to simplify concepts

Sometimes your standards have you teach things that are FAR beyond your student’s developmental level. I feel that way when I teach pretty much all of US History to 8th graders, especially government. So, when I taught the Bill of Rights I thought.. how can I simplify this for an eighth grader to REALLY get it.

I started with a super simple hyperdoc that had students view the Bill of Rights and draw symbols into their interactive notebook. You can look at this hyperdoc here:

Now, here comes the fun part. After students understood the Bill of Rights they were asked to simplify it SO much that a 2nd grader could understand the Bill of Rights. In order to do that students used a website called Storybird to create a storybook teaching a second grader about some of their rights in the Bill of Rights. Storybird is AWESOME, pre-made pictures that students can choose to put into their stories (so it doesn’t become a five day project) and easy to use typing features that any age student could use! Students had to decide how to simplify these difficult rights so that 2nd graders could understand it, but if I wanted I could have picked any level of students (5th graders to 2nd, 2nd to Kinders) it works with whatever age!

Here are a couple pages from one of the books published..

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Writing the story wasn’t enough.. the class then voted on the best stories written and we had five winners. Those five winners walked over with me to the elementary school and actually shared their stories with 2nd graders! Talk about collaboration! Both age groups loved using the iPads to read their published stories (and if I had my act together I could have even bought the stories in a printed book.) Viewing the stories on iPad are pretty easy though, and we used Chromebooks to create the stories and it worked wonderful. Signing up is easy, and the students really felt like they created something. So much fun for every grade, try it with your students today. 🙂


Google Slidin’ our way through Research and Multitasking

I do NOT want my kids to simply memorize things. I actually despise teaching wars and battles because I feel that it can be difficult to convince kids to just learn the concepts, the chronological events, and the cause and effects. Despite my hatred of teaching the wars throughout History, I decided to teach the War of 1812 using Google Slides. I am AMAZED by what my 8th grade students produced in such a short amount of time (~4 days)

Start out with giving them directions by making an example Google Slides. Why? Well, if you want them to make something awesome give them an example of what it could look like, give them examples of slides they could make. Kids that haven’t used slides don’t know what it should look like. So, here are my directions.

Here is the finished product of what one of my students did out of those directions and four days.

You might be asking, what did you do for FOUR days?

  1. Students watched the PBS version of the War of 1812 and took notes underneath their slides.
  2. Students researched events as they watched them on their screen and recorded what they saw.
  3. Students used Google Maps to find where the battles took place and then plotted them on their map.
  4. Students looked up timelines to check that they were doing everything correctly and in order.

&& the MOST amazing part.. is they did this ALL AT ONCE. Kids multi tasked like no other. They listened, watched, typed, googled, and read simultaneously. They also LOVED it. They asked, how can we get this at home?

presentations-128 (1)Have your students download the Google Slide app, and they can continue to work and show their parents what they are doing anytime/anywhere. Also, have them download Google Drive just so they can see their whole drive at home. Next thing you know, kids will be walking in the hallways doing work from class.


I know now that it isn’t about memorizing battles, it honestly isn’t even about the War of 1812. It’s about getting kids prepared to multi task in life, to look things up they don’t know, to check that they got things correct, to design something unique, and to really give them freedom in how they process information. This speaks SO much to a community my coworker has started called The Test is Life. Check it out!  TTIS_Web-Headers


Thanks dearly for reading stuff I so love to do with students,

Kendra Tyler