Rachel Terlop

2019 Henry Ford Innovation Nation Teacher of the Year

Social Emotional Learning and Facilitation Coach

Early Childhood B.S.Ed & M.A.T. and RYT-200

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  • Rachel Terlop

Model Magic

When four boxes of model magic arrived to my classroom, I was overwhelmed and wondering how on Earth I was going to pull this project off. Managing 20+ islands on wood slabs was going

to take over every spare inch of the classroom, and how were we going to paint them all?! On top of that, how was I going to ensure that my students were not just making an island of clay - but rather that they understood the different landforms they were creating.


This landform Cornerstone project involved our class reading a Geography A-Z book, and picking eight landforms to study deeper. After choosing eight landforms of interest, students got to build those eight landforms out of clay on an island. Once built, students got to pick a theme for their island and create their Google Slide presentation based on their theme, Painting the projects was the final step before presentations!


Adding the Google Slide presentation to this project allowed me to determine if my students

were connecting the information we researched, to their 3-D island. When it came time to present, I noticed that even though we planned our landforms on paper, and built our islands using those planning sheets, some students went off their plan on the Google Slides. For example, the planning sleet might have had a lake, and the Google Slide presentation might have had a lake, but the physical 3-D representation did not have a lake. I am wondering if students did not have enough table space to have clay, paint, and their planning sheets out and thats where the disconnect occurred.


During presentations, I was able to spot check understanding by asking students to show their representation of the landform on their 3-D model. Most representations were fairly obvious - volcanoes, mountain ranges, deltas, and keys. The more challenging landforms like bays, atolls, and archipelagos were the ones that I was sure to ask students to point out, to ensure understanding.


I think my favorite part about this project was the presentations. My mother had bought our class sparkling cranberry apple juice which was our celebratory lava drink as we watched our peers present! The themes were incredible - Grand Big Mac, Gemstones, Dogs, Unicorns, Dancing! I am always amazed by the creativity my students harbor.


Using Google Slides is definitely going to be a way for my students to type, share, and present. They felt successful, and in control of their projects. It was a visual aide for them to refer to when presenting, which made them excited. There was a lot of feedback from peers in the form of compliments, which made for happy kids who KNEW what they were talking about. Overall I think this project was the most in-depth and empowering project we have done as a class. I feel very proud of my kiddos as we enter Spring Break. We all earned a break after this one!




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