Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baby Name Wizard on Jumping Monkeys

I do lessons with third grade students to teach them to use PowerPoint. We take pictures of each other and insert our own picture into the PowerPoint along with information we find about our names using a website called Behind the Name. It is great for even the most unusual or ethnic of names. It gives the history, origin and pronunciation of the name as well as derivatives and some famous people who share the name. Almost everyone can find his or her name there. In fact, I have never had a student not find their name there in the three years I have been doing the lesson. I love this lesson because it is all about the kids. They learn to use PowerPoint while finding out about themselves and their name. But I am always looking for ways to make the lesson better and thanks to Leo LaPorte and Megan Morrone and their podcast “Jumping Monkeys,” I think I found a way to do just that. Their guest on the October 4th program was Laura Wattenberg who wrote the book the Baby Name Wizard and created Baby Name No only is the website fun but it will give the students a wealth information about their name and where and when it was popular in the United States. According to Wattenberg even more tools will be coming onto the website in the next couple of months so by the time I use the site with my third graders in March it should be all new. Wattenberg uses US census data to populate her statistics and charts. I am very excited about this website. Try it and look up your name. My name peeked in the 1940’s and it’s been all-downhill since then. So, is it better to have a popular name or an unusual name? Is it better to have a name that is popular at the time? Why are we drawn to the names we give our children? Is it what is popular at the time? I can’t wait for my students to start looking at their names and seeing if their names are popular, unusual, even on the charts. I hope we get some synthesis and analysis out of this lesson this time around. How exciting to add a new tool to this lesson this year. I hope my students find it as exciting as I do and will want to keep on learning. After all, that is what I am tying to do… create lifelong learners!

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