Which school hosted it’s first-ever Geography Bee, and the first Geography Bee in Davidson County Schools, in January 2018? Pickett Elementary or Hasty Elementary?
If you answered HASTY ELEMENTARY you are right! Six fourth and fifth grade students from Hasty competed in a 7-round competition in mid January. The winner will take an on-line test to see if she qualifies as one of the top 100 geographers in North Carolina in grades 4-8. If she qualifies, she will go to the state Geography Bee competition in Charlotte on April 6. Based on how well our winner performed in the school bee, there is a very good chance she will be in the state competition. The 60-minute test will be administered at school.
National Geographic coordinates the Geography Bee each year. Interested schools can register and pay the $120 fee in the fall. This year, the Davidson County Association of Educators was willing to pay for 5 elementary school registrations.
Materials are downloaded from the National Geographic website, including the questions for the preliminary and final school rounds. There are 35 questions available in each preliminary round. In these early rounds, students get the choice between 2 or 3 answers. For example, you might get a question that asks “The North Platte and South Platte Rivers meet in which state - New Mexico or Nebraska?” The correct answer, if you weren’t sure, was Nebraska.
Questions move from questions about the United States, to questions about physical geography (landforms, weather), to questions about the world. These include cultural as well as physical location questions.
How do students prepare for the test? That’s a tough question, and one we are still working to figure out. Basically, students should be able to physically locate all the US states, have a good command of the vocabulary needed for the fifth grade science test, and learn about major cities and all countries of the world. That’s a lot to do. But it’s fun! Our six students all hope to participate again next year. Logic and reasoning skills are just as useful in this competition as the names of the rivers in South Korea.
Having this first year under our belts, I feel much more ready to prepare students for next year’s bee. Our students want to have a geography club next year, after school, even while most move on to middle school! And several parents have expressed interest so we are doing a Geography Trivia as part of our next family night, and gauging interest in an adult Geo Bee.
Thanks to Rhonda Florence for this great blog post and her continued enthusiasm and leadership for geography education. If you would like to learn more about having a GeoBee at your school next year, please let her know!
A special thanks to SLMC Kristi Allred for this awesome blog post! Kristi has done similar programs before with other titles and it's totally replicable and affordable. Kudos to her supportive administration and staff to help her pull this event off!
In January we kicked off our first (and hopefully annual) Reading Knightly Family Reading Program. Families were encouraged to sign up to read Fish in a Tree together and participate in various activities throughout the year. In the spring of last year I asked for staff volunteers to help me plan this event. I got very lucky and had representation from all three grade levels and the EC department. Our goal is for families to devote time to read together, while building those connections between home and school that often weaken during the middle school years.
We selected Fish in a Tree for several reasons. It is a truly excellent book and we thought it opened the door for lots of meaningful discussions for families. We have a large EC population here, and we thought this book could help some students read about a character with struggles like their own, and it would help other students gain empathy towards their peers. Wonder is our #1 most popular book, and Fish in a Tree shares some similar themes. So it seemed like a good match for this year!
We promoted the program through ELA teachers using flyers and this video. I wrote a Donors Choose Grant and received 40 free copies of Fish in a Tree. 28 families enrolled; primarily 6th and 7th grade. They paid $5.00 per person for dinner (East Coast Wings).
We had 51 students/family members attend the kick-off event. Families ate dinner in the cafeteria and then visited the media center to receive their books/materials and visit stations. Included in their family materials was a timeline of future events, conversation starters, an invitation to participate in a family volunteer project, and a list of possible books to read next. I was fortunate that five Reading Knightly committee staff members, Elaine Brittain (media assistant), Mrs. Hyatt & Mrs. Donithan (administrators), Wendy Beck from the public library, and Sedley attended and helped out throughout the evening.
The stations included: Learning About Dyslexia, Life in a Military Family (both important to the plot of Fish in a Tree), North Davidson Public Library Resources, Literacy Tips, About the Author, and Connecting with Flipgrid. I hope to use Flipgrid as a way to foster digital conversation both about Fish in a Tree and reading in general.
Our upcoming events include a Lunch Bunch book discussion, Make-and-Take activity (during the day), and an April evening Dessert Celebration where we will recognize student participants and showcase the Family Volunteer Projects.
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