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.
I am trying to be more mindful of pulling my students’ learning through this year. You know, revisiting what they’ve already learned so it doesn’t fly out of their brains never to return (at least not to return until their high school American History teacher says they should have learned this in 8th grade and have to review it…).
I tried out a neat tool this week with my students that Glenn Wiebe showed the KCSS Executive Board over the summer. The ClassTools.net Hexagon Generator allows you to select up to 30 terms that will then be placed on little hexagons which you will then have the pleasure of cutting apart (good task for a student aide with time on her hands, wish I had one).
With only three days this week due to Parent-Teacher Conferences I didn’t want to jump into something new before their long weekend, so I decided to roll out the hexagons. I used a mix of ideas, people and events that we’ve covered since the beginning of the year. Each table got a set and my directions – if the terms on their hexagon have a connection they can touch, but for each side that touches there has to be a connection. Continue reading Hexagons? In History?
One thing I have learned as a teacher, kids really do say the darndest things! Recently my Kansas History class started in on Bleeding Kansas, and I realized that very few of my students had retained any prior knowledge on the subject. To get the students interested in the topic, and to provide them with some basic knowledge before we really got started on the topic, I planned a pre-reading strategy using key words from the Bleeding Kansas chapter in our Kansas Journey textbook. Continue reading “Was Kansas Actually Bleeding?”
A few years ago, I was introduced to “Discrepant Event Inquiry” from Glenn Wiebe. (Here is another post about it from his History Tech blog). The idea is that you take an image and only reveal a little bit at a time. As I reveal a little bit of the picture, the students must guess Who is in the picture, What is happening, When was the photograph taken, and Where is this taking place. This encourages students to think outside the box and it also does WONDERS with questioning and how to ask the right questions. Naturally, I turned this into a competition. Continue reading How I use “Discrepant Event Inquiry” in my classroom
Fortunately for me, my school district sends teachers to an AP Institute every other summer put on by College Board. In 2012, I attended one in Plano, TX and enrolled in a Pre-AP U.S. History course with Rhonda Johnson (who I decided is my hero). I learned so many great skills and strategies that promote historical thinking and analyzing in my students!
I went thinking I would get ideas for my 8th grade American History course (non-Pre AP) but instead I applied almost everything to my 6th grade Pre-AP social studies class. I’m increasing reading and writing skills while (quietly and discretely) preparing these 11 and 12 year olds for AP courses in high school! It. is. awesome.
Some examples: Continue reading TACOS Anyone?