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Classroom Connections

Mystery Skype
Students in seventh grade social studies classes are sharpening their geography skills by playing a fun and interactive mystery game.  Through this game, classes at North Hills Middle school are making connections with students across the United States and abroad.  Students first visited the library to learn how to play the game, and each completed a job application before they were assigned roles they would assume during the activity.  Game play involves both classes asking yes/no questions and using their understanding and investigation of geography to determine where the other class is.  The first class to guess correctly wins the game!  To date, our students have "met" peers in other classes in the sates of Indiana, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, New York.
Long Distance Writing Workshop

Seventh and eighth grade students in the Literati Writers club, sponsored by Mr. Wilkinson, participated in a writing workshop with Ms. Robin Yardi, a Santa Barbara, California resident and children’s author. During our session, Ms. Yardi shared plenty of advice with North Hills Middle School’s young writers. She suggested that all writers should ask themselves what they care deeply about, what they love, and write about that. She also told our students that, “Ideas are sneaky. They come into your brain, a snap of an idea, and you have to pay attention to them. Catch it and write it down!” 

Our students also had a chance to ask Ms. Yardi questions about the writing process. When creating characters, Ms. Yardi explained that writers need to be honest about who they are as people. Human characters, like real people, have faults of their own. She recommended finding characters’ secrets and, “…throwing complications their way.”

At the end of our workshop, Ms. Yardi encouraged our writers to let go of any anxiety they have about sharing their writing with others. She reminded our students, “We cannot make our writing good if we’re not willing to share it. No writer is perfect the first time.”

Thanks, Ms. Yardi, for an informative and inspiring session!

Virtual Field Trips with National and State Park Rangers
In science, seventh grade students spent time in the library researching the Earth's biomes. After their research was completed, students then assumed the role of applying to become junior rangers at an imaginary national park for each of the biomes they studied. To apply for the ranger badge, they presented what they learned through their research about the animals, climate, and plants of each biome as well as other current topics of their choice such as conservation and the effects of climate change.
 
To give the students an authentic learning experience about different biomes and ecosystems, they participated in virtual field trips to Joshua Tree National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California.  During each Skype session, park rangers taught our students about the diversity of each park and provided opportunities for our students to discuss points of interest and ask the rangers questions. 
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North Hills School District
135 Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15229
Phone: 412-318-1000 Fax: 412-318-1084
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