3.5 Months Done!

Sorry for the long time span between posts!  I spent that amount of time teaching American History, Economics, and American Government to 11th and 12th graders who have been expelled from their zone schools.  It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

The students came from various parts of Orlando and were expelled for a great variety of reasons.  I’m going to take some of the things they’ve taught me and some of the things I <i>think</i> I taught them and use them as inspiration for the next few months.  I look forward to returning to the school in August and making the big move from Tallahassee to Orlando.  If anyone has any suggestions on moving, I would greatly appreciate them!

Success!

You are looking at a one of the newest Social Studies/History teachers in Orange County Public Schools!  I start on Tuesday teaching juniors and seniors economics, American government, and American history!  That means that I’ll be able to blog about some of my most successful lesson plans and activities and some that just plain did not go well.  I’m excited about this journey!

Women and Prohibition Powerpoint

Women and Prohibition Powerpoint

I’m sharing one of my favorite powerpoints that I have created for a lecture on women and the prohibition movement.  It touches on the Women’s Temperance movement in the 1800s and leads up into Prohibition and the emergence of the “new woman” of the 1920s.  Please feel free to use this presentation to your liking.  Download it, change it, use it as you wish!  Click the link above to view it on SlideShare.  From there you can download it.  If you have problems, just email or post a comment below and I’d be happy to email it or dropbox it to you.

Pre-Class Writing Prompts

jBorrowed from Todaysadmin.comWhen students come into a classroom it’s often hard to get them to settle down and get ready for a lesson.  Between intense discussions with each other, being distracted with other responsibilities, or just non-interest in the subject, their attention is often focused elsewhere as they shuffle into the classroom.  Setting up a beginning-of-class routine for them is one way to curb this distraction.

I like having students keep a journal that they write in with a daily writing prompt.  It’s often a good idea to have the students’ keep their journals in your classroom so you don’t run the risk of someone forgetting it or losing it completely, though this will take up valuable real estate especially with large class sizes.  Keep them by the door in boxes labeled by class so that they may pick them up when they walk in.  Talking can be kept to a minimum and once the routine is established it becomes second nature for the students (ideally, though they may still gripe about it).  Keep the writing prompts interesting enough for the students to be able to form an opinion that they can write on for at least one to five minutes.  These may also serve as an excellent way to help determine if the students are doing their homework reading assignments!  The idea is to keep the students writing and thinking.

Of course, these do not have to be limited to historical concepts.  If there has been an issue in your classroom, you could creatively ask the students to come up with a solution or ways that they could make the situation different by reacting differently or standing up for a friend.  Bullying is always a hot topic, but be careful and try not to single out students.  Make these types of prompts as broad as possible.  Writing prompts could also be a segue into teaching students empathy about a subject you will be teaching about, like the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

I like to check the writing assignments once a quarter, spot checking them (not reading every single entry).  Students have the option of folding back a page once a week, letting me know that this is personal to them (though I check to make sure there is writing on the page without reading it).

Some writing prompt ideas can be:

American History:

  • If you were a farmer living in one of the original 13 colonies, what livestock would you raise and why?  What crops would you be farming and why?  Which colony would you prefer to live in?
  • What Constitutional amendment would you like to see added in the next 20 years to the United States Constitution?  Who would it benefit and why?  Who would it hurt and why?
  • Consider the technological advances in the last 100 years that have become so important in our every day lives (electricity, telephones, cell phones, computers, internet).  What do you think will come out of technology in the next 100 years?  How will it shape our daily lives?
  • If you were the President of the United States, what could you do to change the country for the better?  What laws would you create or change?
  • During an (earthquake, hurricane, tornado), most of us do not have the time or presence of mind to do more than duck beneath a table or into a doorway.  Afterwards, we may wish we had been able to save an object of sentimental value like a photograph or childhood toy.  Pick one thing you would want to save from destruction and write about it.  Describe this thing and why it is special to you.  (Adapted from http://staff.esuhsd.org/danielle/english%20department%20lvillage/CAHSEE%20English/Sample%20Writing%20Prompts.pdf)

World History:

  • If you had to live as a Spartan, a Viking, an English Knight, or a Roman warrior, which would you choose and why?  What would a day in your life look like?  What would be the fun parts and the not so fun parts?
  • Imagine that the Roman Emperor has just sentenced you to fight in the Colliseum for a crime you have committed.  What is the crime and what would your argument be to him to help save your life?

General:

  • If you could have grown up in a different place and cultural from your own, where and which would you choose?  How would it be different?
  • We have studied numerous historical figures so far in this class.  Who has been your favorite so far?  Why?  Are there any characteristics of this person that you see in yourself or any that you would like to see?
  • Imagine that you are on an archaeological dig (essentially, a bunch of people looking for old stuff in the ground) and you come upon an amazing discover. What is it and what do you do when you become famous for the discovery? (Taken from: http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/5th-grade-writing-prompts-social-studies.html)
  • Think about the historical figures we have learned about so far this semester.  If you could have dinner with any of them, whom would you choose and why?  What would you talk about or ask him or her? (Adapted from http://staff.esuhsd.org/danielle/english%20department%20lvillage/CAHSEE%20English/Sample%20Writing%20Prompts.pdf)

Resources:

http://www.theteacherscorner.net/daily-writing-prompts/

http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/5th-grade-writing-prompts-social-studies.html

http://staff.esuhsd.org/danielle/english%20department%20lvillage/CAHSEE%20English/Sample%20Writing%20Prompts.pdf

Tip of the Week: MapStory. It’s Wikipedia for Maps

This is brilliant and ridiculously helpful for social studies teachers looking for a way to incorporate a different level of map understanding and use in a classroom. I look forward to incorporating this tool into my curriculum! Thanks History Tech for keeping us up on these wonderful tools!

History Tech

Okay. Not sure if I should be impressed or freaked out by the fact that the founder of MapStory was also one of the original officers of In-Q-Tel. In-Q-Tel, as we all know, is the venture capital group working to keep the CIA equipped with the latest in information technology.

I’m gonna go with freakishly impressed.

Because MapStory looks like a very handy tool for teachers looking for ways to incorporate high-level discipline specific thinking skills into their geography and history instruction. And I’m sure there’s not any chance of teachers getting caught up in some sort of illegal international information gathering syndicate through MapStory.

Pretty sure.

Yesterday I shared some thoughts about using maps to to help generate great questions related to the Kansas state social studies standards and the Common Core. Part of what I didn’t talk about was the last part:

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Smart Solutions to and Possible Reasons for Behavior Issues in School

So much can be changed by our reaction as adults to the students’ actions. Please review and follow this very important entry and blog by ACES too High. If you have never heard of the ACE Study, I invite you to read more about it at http://www.cdc.gov/ace or send me an email or leave a comment and I can fill you in on this important work.

ACEs Too High

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Two kindergarteners at Cherokee Point Elementary School in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood get into a fight on the playground. Their teacher sends them to the principal’s office. 

Instead of suspending or expelling the six-year-olds, as happens in many schools, Principal Godwin Higa ushers them to his side of the desk. He sits down so that he can talk with them eye-to-eye and quietly asks: “What happened?” He points to one of the boys. “You go first.” 

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Online Teaching and Reinforcement Tools

Fantastic teaching and reinforcement tool.

History Tech

We’ve always asked our kids to read. Informational text. Primary sources. Non-fiction. Fiction. Poetry. We’ve always asked our kids to write. Summaries. Research. Reviews. Reaction papers.

At least, that’s been the theory. Good social studies and history instruction has always included these things but I think that sometimes we can forget how critical reading and writing skills are to what we do. The Common Core, for better or worse, has been a good reminder for us. We need to have our kids read, write, and communicate much more.

The problem for many of us?

Uh . . . what does that look like again?

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Writing Rubrics

Rubrics

One of the best ways to help students’ writing is to let them know how you want them to write.  With each writing assignment, it is best to give them a rubric that you will be grading them on and go over it with them in class.  This way they know what you are expecting of them so they can meet your expectations.  This also helps you, as the teacher/grader in the end.  Below are two examples of rubrics that I use with undergraduate college courses and advanced (AP or honors) high school students.  I hope to be adding more general rubrics in the next few weeks.  The resources that I used to create these are at the bottom of the page on the rubric sheet.

Short Rubric

Long Rubric

History Harvest: Community Collectives

New York TimesThe January 2013 issue of the Perspectives on History highlighted a project of the students and faculty of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln called History Harvest.  The article called to me about a way to collect the information that is most often lost- that of the community in which we all live.  Everyone has those personal historical documents tucked away in a closet, attic, or basement that we think about rarely (or sometimes often).  These documents have a personal value, but also a historical value regarding culture and social of our given communities.  It’s a shame to let those documents sit, forgotten, tucked away when they could be digitized for use by historians and students.

The co-directors William G. Thomas and Patrick D. Jones started this project “to create a popular movement to democratize and open American history by utilizing digital technologies to share the experiences and artifacts of everyday people and local historical institutions.”  People from the community are invited to these harvest gatherings with their personal items and histories to have them digitized with photographs and digital stories.  Local organizations, museums, and others are also welcome to bring items to be digitized.

Students are heavily involved, creating, planning, and advertising for their harvest.  Its an excellent hands on experience for the students to learn what history means to people in their community and how everyone can contribute in some way.  It’s a fascinating project that begs for duplication in communities across the United States and the world.

Needless to say, I would be highly interested in starting my own “History Harvest” in my community with students.  If you would be too, you can contact the co-directors via the links on their names above or contacting them through their website at: http://historyharvest.unl.edu/