Hello out there!  If anyone still follows and read my blog...  I could give you a list of excuses as to why I haven't blogged, but I won't.  I just haven't made time for it. Period.  I am hoping to get better at that because I feel like I have so many great ideas to share.

I have to admit this critical activity was put together by myself so that I would be able to get through the first week back to school after winter break.  Being in junior high, we have semester tests the second week we come back from break.  I knew I couldn't start a new topic, but wanted the students to do some review before their semester test. 

Enough rambling & onto the activity....

I was looking at Facebook and had seen that someone posted the link to The Year 2015 in Pictures from The New York Times.  It piqued my interest because the first picture that came up was beautifully taken.  I started looking through them and was learning about events that I never knew had happened.  A light bulb came on in my head. 

Here is step by step what I had my students do to complete this activity...

I used my Elmo to show the students how to set up their note taking sheets.  I didn't really tell what we were doing, jut tried to get it all laid out.  Here are some pictures of what the note taking sheet looked like. 
 This is what the individual sections looked like.
Here is the sheet as a whole.
I have also put one you can print off in the 2015 in Photos FREEBIE in my TPT store.
I pulled up the website and showed the students how they could navigate by month.  I told them that for my example I had picked a spring month.  I pulled up my example date.  As a class, we looked at the photo and read the caption.  We also inferred what we thought the cause might be.  (FYI - They were way off.)  I showed them how I used the date and important details from the caption to Google the event.  We talked about what we could infer would happen because of the event.  We also discussed the main idea and evaluated the photo the author had chosen.  When we had finished out discussion, I showed them my example page that I had completed. 
Next, we went to the computer lab so that the students could explore the site and pick pictures/dates that caught their eye.  I also had them make sure that they would be able to Google a cause and infer an effect for the event.  (Some of the events will just not work for the activity.)
I gave the students 2 class period, so 2 hours to Google the events and get all of their information and thought onto their paper. (I know having students take notes on paper seems like an extra step, but I wanted them to be able to process the information that they were getting.  It also helped make their sentences and answers more refined.)

Last but not least, the student input all of their information into the template I provided.  All answers had to be in complete, original sentences.  I also told them to make sure that they were well thought out answers-I would be asking them about them later and they would need to be knowledgeable about what they put. 
This is the template that we used.  It can be found in my 2015 in Photos FREEBIE in my TPT store.
Here are several examples of the amazing work that my students turned in.  If you think this might be a little challenging for your students, you could have them do it in groups or as a warm-up for a whole class activity.

I have to say that I didn't have any students complaining.  They were all into the assignment and even asked if I could find another one like it for them to do.  I'll have to keep that on my mind....

2015 in Photos - A Critical Thinking Activity

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