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Sociology Spotlight: Teaching Social Stratification with Music and Fantastic Lies

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 mv5bmjqwmtcymdg2n15bml5banbnxkftztgwmtcxnjg0ode-_v1_uy1200_cr8906301200_al_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.

-Megan

KCSS Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Awards

large_kcss toyKCSS is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Awards.  This award is intended to reward and encourage high quality instruction in the social studies. Winners of the award exhibit innovative and effective instructional strategies, utilize state and national standards, foster a spirit of inquiry, develop democratic beliefs and values, and participate in professional organizations.  Nominees for the award must be presently serving as a social studies educator (K-12) with at least a half-time appointment and have taught a minimum of three years at the designated grade level. Awards will be given at K-6 and 7-12 grade levels.

If you are interested in nominating a social studies teacher, or you would like to nominate yourself, please complete and submit the nomination form.  Complete nomination packets (1-2 page letter from nominee, professional resume, and 2 letters of recommendation) can then be submitted to either the email or mailing address listed at the top of the nomination form.

Complete nomination packets must be submitted by September 15th, winners will be notified by October 1st, and are expected to attend the Kansas Social Studies Conference in Wichita on November 5th & 6th.  Winners will be announced during a reception at the conference on Sunday night and are awarded $250, conference registration, and travel expenses. Both winners are automatically considered for the Kansas State Combined Teaching Award and are also eligible for the National Council of the Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award.

Download the information sheet for additional details about the award.

Civic Engagement In The Classroom . . . We The People

adam-topliff

This week’s blogger is Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  I love all things Hamilton!


 

It’s that time again! Teachers and kids across the nation are preparing to head back to school.  As we prepare to kick-off the new school year, it might be important to start considering the ways you are working to develop more civic engagement with your students.  For the past couple of years, Education Commissioner Watson has stressed the importance of an education that develops the 21st century student.  One key element of that is having our kids understand their role in the world around them and how they can impact it.  In short, we are talking about civic engagement.  Check out the KSDE HGSS site to learn more about the initiatives to bring more civics to classroom.  

A key aspect of the civic engagement initiative is Civic Knowledge: Continue reading Civic Engagement In The Classroom . . . We The People

The Syllabus Can Wait! A Day One Strategy for Fostering Student Ownership

Despite the best efforts of teachers nation-wide to freeze their calendars and squeeze in as much family and pool time as they can, the school year is fast approaching.  As we begin to transition back into educator mode the plan for the first day of school begins to crystallize in our minds.  For the past several years I have utilized this activity to get my students communicating with each other, receiving invaluable guidance for myself, modelling a skill we utilize repeatedly, and setting the tone for our entire course..

After a standard intro and icebreaker I write the following prompt on the board:

“Describe an effective teacher.”

Since I have taught freshmen four of my six years in the classroom, I am keenly aware of the importance of explaining EVERYTHING.  As much fun as it is to hear a student say “no homework” as if they are the first to come up with the joke, I immediately ask students what the mission of a teacher is.  

As they come to their consensus I break up the class into groups of three.  I task each group to collaborate and develop four criteria to judge whether a teacher is effective or not, keeping in mind the mission of a teacher.  After 3-5 minutes of conversation, each group shares out their list of four.  As they share I write down every response on the board.  Normally we end up with a list of between 10-15 characteristics, since I do not write down repeat suggestions. Continue reading The Syllabus Can Wait! A Day One Strategy for Fostering Student Ownership