History Teachers: How do you lecture/present lessons?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Doug_HSTeach_07, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2010

    I have been doing some soul-searching lately about this topic. I read an article called "In Defense of Good Lecturing." Basically it was a strong rebuttal to the crowd that claims history teachers should be guides on the sides, showing students the way in a student-directed environment.

    I ask this because I know I could lecture more. I know I can engage my students through interactive lectures (asking questions and opening up class discussion every couple minutes), but the hangup is my content knowledge and worries about student boredom. I have 5 preps and I am constantly reading up and studying almost everything. However, this means it's hard to truly become a master specialist and know everything in each discipline. I will never stop trying though! :)

    I also have set up different modules for each class session. Each session has a topic or burning question; from there I will deliver the content. I think it's important to mix things up with simulations, video clips, and lots of other goodies too.

    My studies at the university level always told me that history should teach critical thinking skills by analyzing documents and primary sources. I have been doing that, but what about the content? Can you have both? Analyzing documents does take time!
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Feb 4, 2010

    My best lectures usually work something like this:
    -We watch/view/listen to some type of media on the topic we are studying that day. This sparks student interest. As we do this I always have some essential question written on the board.
    -Then I move onto the notes. I use Power Point to lecture I try and always include pictures and other related media to the topic. I always stop at points and have mini-discussions with my class. I also have Brian Checks which are basically a small review of the notes. The kids come up and answer the questions. If they get it right they get a piece of candy. Even my seniors like this one. They key to stopping boredom is 1) getting students involved (by discussion or getting them up at the board), 2) always (if possible) allow them to judge the events for themselves, and 3) relating it to their lives and current events. If you can do that, most students will stay interested.
    -Then I end class with some type of activity. Sometimes its a reading with questions, sometimes a project, simulation or activity, and other times it's a primary source. It's important to vary it up. My primary source activities generally ask questions about what exactly the documents are saying. Then we usually discuss as a class what the documents prove and why they do. You can also use primary sources before notes as a discovery activity, so they can deduct from the documents what exactly the point of the document is without knowing what is expected first. With this type of set-up I sometimes will also have students complete a more interactive activity (skit, cartoon, etc.) to illustrate the primary source.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2010

    Brendan, sounds like you conduct an interesting and engaging class for the students. Great format (except the candy part - I am reluctant to hand out treats) that keeps the students constantly in mental motion.

    I also try in each class to bring the students own lives into the lesson. It gives them a point of reference to understand the information. Whether it is ancient history or current events, I bring up examples of how it has or will effect the lives of the student.
     
  5. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Feb 4, 2010

    I lecture heavily with my 7th graders. In the end they need to know certain content and I feel our textbook doesn't teach them much of anything no matter how I use it.

    Frequent interactions and use of media within the lecture makes it fly by, even for 12 year olds. Now, if I just stood up there and talked I wouldn't expect much.
     
  6. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Feb 4, 2010

    I lecture.... virtually every single day (on a block schedule though). But that's not all I do. Each day typically starts with some assigned reading and some comprehension questions and vocabulary terms. This is done in class because I often don't have enough books for all students to take one home.

    Once this is done, I typically lecture for around 30-40 minutes or so, with PowerPoint. Students are required to take notes, and my PowerPoints are often media heavy, with pictures, sounds, and animations. I also ask discussion questions quite often (ie: the Romans seem to truly love violent entertainment. that seems awfully familiar? why? where? are we like that? etc). This keeps the class flowing quite well. And my personality seems to help, in that I'm typically quite animated.

    I then end each class with some sort of activity. Such as.... at least once per unit, we do: a primary source, a map of the region, an artwork analysis, a video, and a review game.
     
  7. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Feb 6, 2010

    I'm not a history major, so I am not near as good as most of you are. I have struggled with teaching social studies, but our textbook adoption is fairly good. I only have one social 7th grade social studies class, and they cannot read, so typing up readings and what not will not work. My textbook comes with a "Reading Study Guide" that is a shortened version of the text. It comes with a CD that reads to the students. I go online and search for interesting pictures about what we are covering. I put them in powerpoints and as they read, I pause, and show pictures and we talk about them. For example, we are studying the Aztecs, so I went online and found codices, glyphs, and other pictures. They really like the nasty gory stuff like the glyphs of bodies being cut up and blood rushing down the the pyramid I am showing when we talk about sacrifices. This is stuff that our textbook doesn't show. The text also has good stories that we read and talk about. I also include projects. We studied the Mayas and they had to come up with a glyph that represents them. They are currently working on a brochure of the Mayan civilization. I also show videos/clips. I try to alternate reading/notes with projects. Next week, we are going to talk about how the Aztecs adapted to their land by building chinampas. They are going to read a story about it, and then create advertisements for chinampas. It's not perfect, and I wish I were a better social studies teacher, but it works.
     
  8. KLH

    KLH Rookie

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    Feb 7, 2010

    I agree with Brendan. I HATE to admit it, but candy works. On the few occasions that I use candy as rewards for answers to the tough questions, I have everyone's undivided attentions from the time they see the first sweet morsel. I feel dirty afterwards.
     
  9. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Feb 8, 2010

    I hate notes. I can honestly say I have over 20 binders filled with overheads and note packets that I've made over the years for different history courses. But I hate spoon-feeding notes.

    My solution to years of debating: I start by introducing the topic. Then, as I talk they have some type of worksheet (last night's homework usually) to look at. As I lecture, they can pick and choose what to write down. However, I will do overheads that involve us filling in a chart or something as a CLASS. (For this reason, I don't use PowerPoint.) Then, I open the floor to discussion. I always get off on a tangent or two, which I actually encourage because every 20 minutes they lose focus so it acts as a "restart" button to get off the material for a minute or two. But I love real life example, which works specifically well for U.S. History.

    My homework is set up as follows: 1) They create notes on key information (Cornell and Outlining are my usual forms), 2) Worksheets that include terms & questions that are used with a textbook reading (I assign homework that relates to the NEXT day's notes), and 3) "Grade-Boosters" which require more critical thinking and creativity (ex: Create a political cartoon...)

    Then, once or twice every two weeks, I have students meet in groups. They have their own seminars in which they have a group leader (changes every time) that gets the discussion going. They then discuss the material and answer discussion questions handed out. I love these informal seminars.

    Of course, I include media when it's beneficial. I have limited use of a proxima so I only use move clips and stuff off the computer when I really feel it will help.

    Also, for I have at leaste one debate per unit (12 units total) and many, many Socratic Seminars. I also have mock trials and creative projects (ex: 1950's satire sitcom show).
    I'm HUGE on analyzing primary sources and documents.
     
  10. kimba

    kimba New Member

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    Feb 9, 2010

    Hi,
    I did my teacher education in Germany which consists of 4-5 years of university and 18-24 full time months training at a school. I didn't study history but geography and as the subjects are somewhat related in the German school system, geography teachers often teach also history (and politics). In the practical training phase at school and in the theoretical seminars we learned a variety of methods for teaching history. First of all, history lessons are very often problem-oriented. This means that the lessons often start with a problematic question/statement. To "solve" the problem and to apply the knowledge that the students gained in the lessons before, I often let them do role-plays, various types of discussions, etc. So, the lessons are extremely interactive and the students get the chance to take a position / identify with problems or situations in the past.
    A big part of the subjects like history, geography, and politics is to increase the ability to present and discuss. I let them do various types of presentations. In addition, group work is also trained a lot.
    Summing up, it is a mixture of lessons in which students really have to learn the content (which are very traditional, like reading sources, interpret them, watching short films, etc.) and a lot of lessons in which they have to apply their knowledge and learn/apply methods at the same time.
    Maybe this can help?

    Kimba
     
  11. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Feb 10, 2010

    I often deal with this topic myself. I create powerpoint slides that has information the students write down, then I will explain it out more and ask the students questions. Depending on the topic they may ask a question. I try to do it a couple times a week and skip a day inbetween to break it up a bit.

    I don't use candy as much as I used to, I use points (I've noticed much more of my students would rather get 3-5 extra points rather than candy) However, I have no qualms about handing out a Dum-Dum sucker or similar things.

    I would like to make it more of a higher order thinking, we do simulations, hands on activities, I am getting better at documents and maps. My students would not 'get' the picking and choosing of necessary information. Actually..I am attempting that in a way next week...with a few philosophers and the Enlightenment...will see how that works.
     

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