Category Archives: Social Studies

March Madness

How appropriate that it is called March Madness!! I’m not referring to the NCAA tournament, but the final weeks before Spring Break.

My calendar is incredibly full this month with IEPs, PT conferences, the end of basketball season and the beginning of baseball season, Tweedle Dee’s 13th birthday, orthodontist and doctor’s appointments, and a few other random meetings. I am double booked on some evenings and am not really sure how I am going to work that out. One day at a time, I guess.

Just 9 days of school (plus one in-service day) until Spring Break.  I don’t have any big plans over break, except for a Cavs game against the Celtics. The weekend Ian was in the hospital, we had had tickets for the kids’ first ever Cavs game.  Sadly, Ian and I did not get to go.

This Friday, we will be kicking off our own March Madness unit in the Resource Room. Another Language Arts teacher and I are recycling/revamping this unit from past years when he did it in his 8th grade Social Studies class.   To get started, I found this great Prezi presentation and have created a March Madness Scavenger Hunt for my students to complete. This is a good simple introduction and very well done by the creators.

More on Current Events and CNN Student News

After a few weeks of viewing CNN Student News, I have decided to change it up a little. It’s a great activity for many students, but my class is still struggling with the ideas of theme, conflict and topic. They’ve got the setting down and they can do a fact and opinion. But we need more practice and a simpler format.

I created a SMART Notebook file of the following writing prompts. I will have to think on my feet and choose an appropriate prompt to go with the daily news program, but I will keep the list handy and consider my options while we view the news.

My first thought was to make a supply of handouts, but I think I will just have them write their responses in their journal.

As always, if you’d like the SMART Notebook file, let me know.

Current Event Writing Prompts

Apps with Friends: Social Studies

I have my own 1st Generation iPad and I take it to work and I use it daily for personal use, but I definitely have iPad envy.

I’m envious of the teachers and classrooms that have iPads. Before anyone tells me that I could have them if I wrote grants….I do plan on writing a grant in the spring in order to get my hands on a few for my Resource Room for the 2013-14 school year.

I have three friends who are currently using iPads on a regular basis in the their classrooms.

I am intrigued by the apps out there, and the possibilities, so I decided to start compiling lists so when I do get my iPads next year (power of positive thinking) I will be prepared. Plus I like to share these things with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Ian. Many times, I put the new apps on the home screen and they discover them and then teach me how to use them!

Today I am going to share the best Social Studies apps according to a very techie friend who is also a leader in BYOT in our district and an intervention specialist.

Here they are (in the order she gave them to me) with a few of my own personal thoughts:

1. Google Earth
2. American Revolution Review Timeline App Includes objects, artifacts, and manuscripts from the period of the American Revolution.
3. Stack the States This is a favorite of Tweedle Ian’s. He learned his 50 states and capitals with this app last year. He still plays it for fun. It includes practice with location, flags, capitals, abbreviations, nicknames, landmarks, and cities.
4. Flow of History .99
5. Video Time Machine I wrote about this cool video app here.
6. World History Maps
7. Today in History Daily lists of events, births, deaths, and holidays going as far back as 300 A.D. Tapping on many events and people will lead you to external links.
8. MyCongress Connects you with websites, emails, and updates (including Facebook and Twitter) of political leaders.

View the actual documents, signatures (includes biographical information), notes, and read the text of these U.S. documents:

9. Constitution
10. Declaration

11. The Congressional Record
12. World War 2 Timeline (This one is $13.99, she got it on sale for $5.99).
14. Historypin (Pretty cool for the Washington, D.C. trip)
15. Google Googles (Also cool for the Washington, D.C. trip)
16.Timeline Eons This is probably my favorite on the list (after Stack the States!) One of the coolest peeks at history. Interactive multi-leveled timeline with pictures.
17. Heritage

Research:

18.WolframAlpha
19. Getty Images

What are some other must have apps for Social Studies? Leave a comment!

Watching History Unfold in the Classroom

So, I have mentioned before that my boyfriend, affectionately referred to as Admiral Bodee, is a 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. He recently shared a really great idea with me as we were discussing non-fiction books and pirates…

(I know, totally random. More on that later.)

Anyway, CNN has an online segment called CNN Student News. Each day CNN produces a short 8-10 minute newscast on current events. Each day he starts class with this newscast and students have to complete a daily summary. Here is his email with directions to his co-workers.

I decided to make a weekly sheet for them to fill in to learn more literary terms along with current events.

The “A” story is to be for Monday viewing, the “B” for Tuesday, and so forth. When you turn the page over, C and D are for Wed/Thurs. Then, they do a summary on Friday for the whole week of news casts.

I attached both pages to be copied back to back; having holes punched in them is helpful, too.

Check out his templates here: CNN TEMPLATE page 1  CNN TEMPLATE page 2

So, how exactly did this work in the classroom? I tried it today.  We watched the news cast  this morning for the first time and of course, it was all about the election. It featured a clip of President Obama’s acceptance speech. If you watched his speech last night  then you will recognize where he said,

I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I looked over and one of my girls was quickly wiping the tears out of the corner of her eyes. It was then that I knew this was a very good thing. You see, right before we started this activity, she said, “We’re watching the news?? I don’t ever watch the news. We don’t got cable.”

And here she was, obviously deeply moved by a current event, a moment in history, that she otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

So my thanks go out to Admiral Bodee for a great classroom activity and to all of the voters who gave President Obama a second term. I was thinking about it this morning….His re-election kind of goes with my philosophy: Everyone deserves a second chance. 

Video Time Machine iPad App

I am currently working on compiling lists of my co-workers’ favorite iPad apps and while I’m just starting the process, I have to share one app right away because it is FREE this weekend!

I  just started this process and want to go through the list of all the other apps, so look for lists by subject very soon.

Meanwhile, check out Video Time Machine.

If you teach history or just love history, pop culture, sports, music, television ads and complete randomness….this is for you!

Tweedle Ian just watched the NBA 2003 Best Plays (the year he was born) and wanted to watch more videos, but I stole the iPad from him so I could write this post!

A Day in History

Last year was the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.  At that time I was writing for a blog for the Ohio Education Association and I was asked to come up with some ideas for teachers to use in their classroom.

Here is my original post with a wide variety of activities and resources: More Than Just a History Lesson

I think today with BYOT students should have the opportunity to view footage, video tributes, and images. This can lead to great reflection and discussion. Having students compare media and text about this day will also fit nicely into the new Common Core as well.

While this year is not a “milestone” anniversary, I hope you will take at least a few minutes, if not devote an entire class period, to honor those who were lost on that tragic day.

Multiple Methods of Presentation: Focus on the Visual

It is important to present information to your class in a variety of ways. Auditory presentation can be effective for some learners. However, I have found that visual representations help almost all learners understand concepts more thoroughly.

In the age of SMARTBoards, digital cameras, and personal electronic devices in the classroom, the options for visual cues is infinite.

With every novel, short story, history lesson, journal prompt, science concept, etc., I spend a great deal of time searching for images that will help students understand, relate to, and remember the information presented.

If you struggle with finding the perfect image/photo/picture/diagram/cartoon, you could check out the website: CAST: Teaching Every Student.This page contains two tutorials and an image collector tool.

While this takes some time at the beginning, if you save images, create files, or build the images into your SMART Notebook lesson, eventually you will simply be in the refining stage. As with any new skill, the process of finding and saving images becomes automatic with practice.

Adding images to your presentation adds another dimension to your teaching. Think of a student who has difficulties with reading, memory, processing speed, auditory learning, language barriers, or paying attention. A picture may be the key to making a connection.

Below I have posted some screen shots so you can see what I have been rambling about for the last 250+ words…

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The Image Collector Tool menu

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This search found some great photographs to promote discussion on the Industrial Revolution.

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By adding “political cartoon” to your search, you have another option for writing and discussion.

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One of the best parts of searching for images is finding great websites related to your content. I can totally see using this website for a RAFT writing assignment or a group project.

 

Using Graphic Organizers in History: 5 W’s

I never had an interest in history as a student and never had much experience teaching it until I did OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) tutoring. I think that year was the year I learned everything I always should have learned about history but didn’t.

It was easy for me to sympathize with my students who hated history and failed the 10th grade state test one (or more) times. I will admit that I have said more than once, “History is so in the past. Who needs it?” But, it was my job and these students needed me to teach it so they could graduate. I figured out ways to do so and now, after 3 years of 8th Grade Inclusion History, I feel like I finally almost enjoy learning about history. (I love teaching anything!)

This did not happen until I started viewing history as a story of time. Who doesn’t love a good story? Every event in history can be told as a story with characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

I spend a lot of time making graphic organizers, study guides, and modified assessments for our history class. I get feedback from a reading specialist who uses my materials with her small group reading and writing class. Students complete the study guides, verbally talk about the events in the chapter, and then write about the events in paragraph form as well. (See how this works for a reading teacher? Students are skimming, scanning, comprehending, and synthesizing throughout this process.) It is our thinking that if they can visualize the information in the graphic organizer, talk about it, and then put it into written words, they will surely remember at least some of it.

I plan on regularly posting samples of the graphic organizers, strategies, and study materials I use with my 8th graders. Hopefully they will give you ideas to use in your classroom (in any content area). Below is my first example:

Students read the section and locate the details to tell the story.

*Here is a PDF file of an original 5W’s +1 (a blank box for additional info.) for you to download: 5ws+1

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