Teachers of social studies across the curriculum probably don’t realize that they cover the issue of Social Stratification (social class systems, poverty, Karl Marx, etc) in their classes. Teachers of sociology probably could spend a whole month on the topic! Social Stratification is one of my favorite units in my semester-long sociology course. Last year, I had my students read Animal Farm (it’s not required in English anymore) and compare the animal’s problems with the issues of social class and social mobility. I may do that again – just because, in my personal opinion, I think students still need to read this classic! But I have two other favorite activities to go with this unit. Music and Fantastic Lies.
First, students watch a few videos and we discuss some important vocabulary with Social Stratification. Then I have the students listen to “Livin’ on a Prayer” (Bon Jovi) and “Fast Car” (Tracy Chapman). They pick out the issues that relate to social stratification after listening to the songs and reading the lyrics. Next I set them free to find their own examples of stratification in music. Obviously there are some ground rules – nothing racially or sexually offensive. You could also make sure that the songs are clean, but I really want the students to look at the music that they like and pick out these issues within the songs they are listening to everyday. And like almost everything else, you’ll have those students who just google “Songs about social stratification” — normally they pick “Allentown” by Billy Joel. But I do have some kids who really become more aware of social class issues that people write about and how there are SO MANY songs with these issues to choose from! To complete this part of the unit, students view a Slide Mission with videos, notes, and responses embedded. I like this format because they can insert their YouTube videos right into Google Slides without me have to go search for them. A copy of what I used in my class can be found here.
After a class discussion about poverty in the U.S., we watch the ESPN 30 for 30 called “Fantastic Lies“. This is the story of the Duke LaCrosse team rape scandal back in 2006. I show this because it covers individuals from across social classes and their expectations vs. reality. Students who are unfamiliar with the story are always shocked once we get about three-fourths of the way through it! Afterwards, they will write a reflection (usually around 300 words) and they make connections with the episode and the terms we discussed regarding Social Stratification. I purchased this episode of 30 for 30 (Season 3, episode 6) on Amazon Prime Video.
Sociology teachers out there: I’d love to hear what you do in your classes to teach social stratification! Comment below.
Do you ever find yourself watching the news and they are discussing a political figure who holds an important role in our government and you have no idea who he or she is? Or maybe the opposite happens — you are teaching about the Constitution or the first Presidential Cabinet and you ask yourself, or even better – a student asks, “Who is the Secretary of Treasury right now?” No? Just me?
Senior U.S. Government was added to my course load this year and I vowed to make sure that my students (and let’s be honest…myself included) know the important officials in our national government. I created these posters (updated as of 7/30/17) that have the official portrait of government officials and jobs in the executive branch – well most of them (sorry Administrator of the Small Business Administration, you didn’t make the cut. But you are still very important). Also included are important White House staff members, congressional leaders, Supreme Court Justices, and Kansas congressmen (I could not contact Kevin Yoder to get a hi-res photo because I don’t live in his district! The photo is taken from his website) and governor. I included Elaine Duke as the Secretary of Homeland Security because she is the current Deputy Secretary and will most likely be moved up to head of that department. Also for my Kansas people, Sam Brownback is still awaiting Senate approval to move into his new role as Religious Ambassador so I included Jeff Colyer as well, he will serve out the remainder of Governor Brownback’s term until the next election in 2018.
Almost all of the photos were taken off of the official website from each individual. Some people didn’t have high-resolution photos available for download on their official website so those had to be found the good old fashioned way. Sources are linked in the file. Both editable and non-editable versions are available. You will need the font- KG Sorry Not Sorry Chub- to edit the labels. See the link to the Google Drive folder below and download! Hope this is helpful for you! If anything, it can be a good way to cover up a blank wall. Happy teaching!
Who’s Who in the U.S. Government
**UPDATE: Since completing these posters back in June, I have had to edit them three times due to the frequent changes in our current administration! I will try to keep them updated as people are replaced.
I believe that a key aspect of “doing” social studies is to give kids the opportunity to not only connect prior knowledge to the content being studied, but also allow them the chance to reevaluate their opinion of historical figures using new knowledge that is presented. Teaching high school world history normally involves introducing students to a wide range of individuals, concepts and events. Trying to help students achieve some level of mastery of these concepts can seem daunting, especially if you are not able to tap into that reservoir of knowledge that the kids bring with them into the room. In teaching the French Revolution and its aftermath I attempt to achieve this by bringing in the single historical figure in which kids are the most familiar: George Washington. In the process I also give the students a chance to flex their non-text discipline specific literacy muscles by analyzing two pieces of art work that say an awful lot about the subjects of depicted in each.
Continue reading “The Anti-Washington”: Using Art as a Historical Tool in World History Class
I come from the world of middle schoolers. I spent six years teaching ancient history to 6th graders and American history to 8th graders. So it was a shock to many of my colleagues when I decided to make the jump from tweens to teens last year.
After going through a mixture of emotions about my content change, I was so excited when I received my course load. American history (Yay! I can pick up where I left off!) and an elective – Sociology. I feel that Sociology is a dream class for social studies nerds. It literally incorporates everything and anything you can imagine: American history, world history, geography, psychology, science, current events, ethics, morals, values, beliefs, culture, religion. I could keep going and going. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was my department head to tell me that there is no real curriculum in place for this semester-long course. I was starting with basically nothing.
Enter Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers! I was able to find some amazing resources online. The ones that stood out the most revolved around the popular podcast, Serial. I had never listened to it but had heard that it was extremely addictive. So when I found these incredible materials created by Mike Godsey on TeachersPayTeachers, I dove in headfirst with my students.
What is Serial about?
Continue reading Serious about Serial