Jr. High Social studies

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by TheyLetMeTeach?, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. TheyLetMeTeach?

    TheyLetMeTeach? Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2006

    Hi Everyone, this is my first year teaching social studies to middle school grades, even though I've been teaching for many years. Anyone have any innovative ideas on how to organize the class? My biggest problem is assigning reading outside of class with so many low readers and English language learners. Help!:confused:
     
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  3. PurpleTweety

    PurpleTweety Companion

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    Sep 17, 2006

    Totally OT, but I LOVE your username! LOL!
    I think you either organize your class into mixed groups -with some good readers, some low readers and some ESL - so they all learn from each other (maybe even some peer tutoring, extra credit could be offered even); or you organize into good readers, low readers, and ESL readers and you give each material at the level they can handle. In the second, I would treat it almost like a split class and have totally different requirements and expectations.
    If you have a really significant number of low and ESL readers you may have no choice but to modify your reading assignments.
    My first suggestion would be to see if you can find some materials which cover the same topics you do, just at lower reading levels. Second suggestion: You may need to move some of the reading from outside of class to inside of class. Do some read aloud yourself or have some round-robin or selected student reading. That way, those who couldn't read it on their own, do still hear/cover the material.
    Third suggestion: Get some of the reading assignments put onto tape or DVD which the low-reading and ESL students could borrow. (maybe extra credit or something for some older students or your good readers)
    Fourth suggestion: I think you might also consider splitting your reading assignments into two groups - that which MUST be read, and that which would be good if it was read. The first would be required and as long as it (and the assignments) are done, students could pass the course. The second I would offer as bonus or enrichment activity completion of which could be used as extra credit or to bump up grades. You could challenge your top students that way, but still have your struggling ones pass the course.
     
  4. TheyLetMeTeach?

    TheyLetMeTeach? Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2006

    Thank you! I have been doing 'round robin' reading in class, but someone recently pointed out that round robin is not considered to be one of the "best practices" in education...in other words, I got the idea it was a waste of time for one person to be doing the reading while everyone else listened. (Even though it seems to be the most logical thing to do.) I am also a little frustrated by the amount of class time...only 40 minutes per class! By the time the students come in, get their books, and are ready to go, it's more like 35 minutes, and that's a good day. Thank you for your suggestions. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. By the way, what does "OT" mean?
     
  5. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Sep 17, 2006

    For your lower level readers I would not assign reading outside of class - those who struggle simply won't do it. I set aside some class time for reading everyday - sometimes I read, sometimes they partner read, sometimes its book-on-tape. Any article or supplementary material I use I record. There is also this neat software called TextAloud that I'm playing with - it will automatically read any text aloud. Doesn't sound bad, either.

    I would suggest you check out Janet Allen's work either Yellow Brick Roads or Reading History. She really "gets" content reading.

    Good luck!
     
  6. TheyLetMeTeach?

    TheyLetMeTeach? Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2006

    Thank you! Is Janet Allen an author of textbooks, or are they books available on amazon? You know, it is so frustrating to have so little time with which to work. I honestly realize that if the kids are going to be exposed to the content in the text, it's only going to be done during class, so I have come to terms with the round robin reading thing. The part that continues to frustrate me is, it's very difficult to get through the material in such a small amount of time. Like I said, with 40 minutes per class, it doesn't leave much time for projects or discussion. By comparison, last year our social studies periods were 80 minutes long, so I feel I'm having to cover the same material in half the time. How typical.
     
  7. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Sep 17, 2006

    She is an author who focuses on literacy - you can get her books from Amazon, and if you ever get the opportunity to attend one of her workshops, do! :)

    I hear you about the short classes - that's tough! Look for ways you can trim down the opening procedures in your class - maybe a class set of books that stay with the desks? Or hand out the article as the students enter the room? If you want to bounce ideas, I'd be happy to help.

    One thing I do when I use a textbook selection or a longer article I will take one whole class to read and discuss/write and then manipulate the material on the next day or days.

    What kinds of reading material are you assigning? (Length, source, etc) Maybe we could come up with more specific suggestions.

    Thanks for writing!
     
  8. awaxler

    awaxler Comrade

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    Sep 17, 2006

    "round robbin" reading might not be the best practice, but you can easily change that to a "read & re-tell". What I do is have students read in pairs...first student reads paragraph #1 and student #2 re-tells that paragraph in his/her own words...then they switch for the next paragraph. This way all students are actively engaged in the reading.

    I too am a middle school social studies teacher and I am always on the lookout for new reading strategies. If you really want to improve your students reading comprehension you will need to apply a variety of reading strategies during your classes.

    I have a blog where I post simple teaching tips...many of which are geared around improving reading comprehension...

    Take a look here: www.TeachingTipsMachine.com

    --Adam
     
  9. TheyLetMeTeach?

    TheyLetMeTeach? Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2006

    You guys are so awesome. Thank you so much for your ideas. I'm looking forward to going to work tomorrow and trying out the idea of having kids read in pairs and re-tell what they read. That sounds like a do-able thing to get me started. One thing I neglected to mention is, my school year started on August 9th and I've been out after back surgery since August 14th. Tomorrow (Sept. 18) will be my "real" first day of school, about which I am very nervous! Hopefully I won't be spending the rest of the year trying to whip them back into shape after 5 weeks with a sub. Wish me luck!!
     
  10. PurpleTweety

    PurpleTweety Companion

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    Sep 18, 2006

    OT = off topic
     
  11. TheyLetMeTeach?

    TheyLetMeTeach? Rookie

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    Sep 18, 2006

    Oh, okay, thank you...I was thinking "Over (the) Top." lol
     
  12. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Sep 18, 2006

  13. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Sep 20, 2006

    I also teach social studies. Our current textbook is way above my students' reading level. What I do is have them take notes on the section. During a given period, I might call on kids to read and then I reread and paraphrase it, or I just read a section myself and paraphrase it. I have them define the key terms and we go over those as well. I also try to suppliment with reading material and lessons that are at their reading level. Sometimes I just try telling it like a story myself while stopping to look at pictures or read sections in the book to reinforce my story.
     
  14. TheyLetMeTeach?

    TheyLetMeTeach? Rookie

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    Sep 20, 2006

    Terrence, do you also have the problem of very short class periods? I am really struggling with these 40 minute classes....it seems we just get started and it's time to change classes. I HATE THIS!! My class time has been cut in half since last year, when I had an hour and 20 minutes. Are you able to do any research or anything with your students? Do you just teach 7th social studies? And, just out of curiosity, what are you covering in 7th grade at this particular time? Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions.
     
  15. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Oct 4, 2006

    My periods are about 50-55 minutes each, so not much longer than yours. You could also make foldables, have kids read, write and discuss the key facts on the board or overhead and have them write them in the foldable. I would like to do a lot of colaborative learning group work and take them to the computer lab for research, but as a first year teacher, my classroom management skills aren't that great, so I am trying to work on that first before I do anything like that. I teach world history. We are supposed to pick up after the rise of the Roman Empire, but most 6th graders never even got to the rise, so I am covering that as well. I also think every day we are going to either have a mini quiz or have a writing activity where they write a paragraph explaining what they have learned for the day. I agree with you though that I am having a hard time figuring out how to make it fun and interesting to teach. I teach Social studies two periods a day and science three periods. Luckily we just got our new social studies text books which are much better and have many more ideas. But the reading level is still a bit too high for them.
     
  16. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Oct 4, 2006

    Janet Allen came to a Literacy conference I was at in the last couple of days and she is absolutely amazing! She is/was a History teacher and she has tons of strategies that are very non/low reader friendly. Go to her website and if you can, purchase some of her ready to use templates (she provided them to us). I am also struggling with History and I am very excited to go and try some of the stuff she has taught us. She did this activity about the Rock Springs Massacre with us and we learned more about it in a few minutes than 40 minutes of round robin reading can do. She used very short easy texts and she read them aloud. She has student do discovery and questioning activites before being exposed to the main text, they are given one line or a title which with which they generate questions, etc... then the teacher reads aloud and the questions are answered. Or, she shows a photo of maybe an event or something on whatever the topic of the day is and students look at it, discuss it, make predictions, generate questions, then a short read aloud is done, she uses poetry and readers theatre too. These are all very quick overviews of some of the ideas she taught us and I haven't gone through my papers of the last couple of days, but really, if you get a chance to go to one of her workshops, GO! It will be well worth it!
     

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