Need strategies that work for SS/History

Discussion in 'Sixth Grade' started by Researcher, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. Researcher

    Researcher Rookie

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    Nov 9, 2008

    Hello, all-

    I'm teaching 6th Gr. World History at a private school, and have so far been pretty "by the book" about it. I hate textbook teaching (my comfort level is moreso in ELA, so you'd think this could be easily done...).

    Are there any strategies you use that the students love and are effective, particularly for test taking purposes? (hate that, too).

    So far, we've used activities like:
    skits
    Jeopardy

    But I only have a 40 min block 3 times a week with them. So time is of the essence. WE have about 20 chapters to cover, some of which I'm thinking of scrapping, but it's the usual Prehistory-Modern times, with emphasis on themes and chronology (over memorization).

    Also, how do you use your time? I've been doing:
    -HW review
    -minilesson on the next chapter section
    -Study hall time for them to preread and read/notetaking.
    HW: Reread, Q/A.

    I find this a lil boring. Anything better?

    Thank you!
     
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  3. KatieKat

    KatieKat New Member

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    Mar 11, 2009

    I teach Social Studies, too: US History and World Cultures. I started doing the whole "read from your book, fill out the review sheet, take the test" routine. However, as you might imagine, the kids got bored easily. SO I switched tactics. We still do a certain amount of the old routine, but now we do other projects. For Example:
    1When we study the Geography of an area I make an overhead of the map and then have the kids trace it on posterboard. Then they must label, make a key, etc (general map skills). I give them a rubric for how it will be graded (try the 'star rubrics' website). The information they will need is out of the text book so they have to look it up in the pages I give to them- this makes the book more useful to them. I usually put them into groups (one to show political, one for resources, one for physical, one for civilizations, etc).
    2. I have them study a civilization and make skit/bulletin board/diarama of a day in the life. Again they can use their books and/or books that I've pulled from the library (kept in my room for the whole unit) to get information to complete the project. If I do two groups (Mayans and Aztecs, for instance) they must present to each other what they've found. Again, I grade with rubrics.
    3. Have you ever done a JigSaw? I haven't managed to make it work yet, but it looks promising- look it up!
    4. My computers are too slow, but National Geographic's website has tons of cool videos and aditional information that support learning. They also have some cool programs. But check on your class computers before actually trying it. Once I planned something and the computers all crashed! How sad. :(
    5. As a review of American History, one of my classes made a 200 year timeline. I divied out a section of years to each student and we each did a certain number of events. However, next year we'll do it as we go along so that it doesn't seem so exhasting/timeconsuming.
    I hope these things help!
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Mar 11, 2009

    I teach 5th in private. American history.

    Each student researched a president. They dressed as the president and portrayed statues which came to life when visitors stood in front of them. They then gave short biographical reports.

    Have students write a scene which includes people from the age you are studying. Have the people interact. I've seen this done as a dinner with important figures as guests.

    Play Bingo with key names, dates, events placed in the boxes. You call out descriptions.

    Write persuasive arguments pro and con a soc studies issue.

    Read about a topic, then have kids in small groups create posters about the topic. Good for comparing two things (we just made posters comparing the British army and the Continental army).

    Give a list of events in pairs. Have kids determine the dates for each event, then tell which came first.

    When my kids have to read and answer questions, it always helps to let them work in small groups.

    Use historical fiction when possible. For a 3 week project, my students each selected a book from the Revolutionary era. They read it and filled out a vocabulary log and historical events chart as they read. Then they wrote book summaries and covers for the projects.
     
  5. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Mar 11, 2009

    Great suggestions. In addition I use webquests. The kids love anything that has to do with computers. Also, check your state standards. I suspect that you don't need to teach all 20 chapters. 3 periods a week is not enough to cover even the bare minimum, much less 20 capters.
     
  6. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Mar 11, 2009

    I agree with Wig, check the standards for the state and see what you can slash. If you are teaching less breadth you can teach for more depth :)

    I feel there needs to be some direct instruction, but I also feel that it is important for students to process that instruction in creative ways. The major vehicle for that in my class is the interactive notebook. You can read more about them here

    I like to include something hands on, if not weekly then at least every other week. Sometimes it is an art project - the most recent was mosaics when we studied the Byzantine Empire, other times it is a "stations" activity where the students rotate through mini-activities. Sometimes it is a simulation - there are some really good books as well as things on the internet.

    Sometimes all a lesson needs is some interactivity. I like to use the structures from Kagan Cooperative Learning. I'm particularly fond of think pair share, numbered heads together, and quiz quiz trade. If you ever have an opportunity to go to a training - go! If not, here is their website: http://www.kaganonline.com/

    Another thing I like are using "menus" or choiceboards. I recently read a helpful "starter" book on the concept "Using Menus to Differentiate Instruction" in SS by Laurie Westphal. This is her website that has some samples:

    http://www.giftedconsultant.com/

    Hope this helps!
     
  7. Historygeek

    Historygeek Companion

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    Mar 11, 2009

    my two cents - have you checked youtube? There are thousands of high quality videos about every aspect of the world you can think of. Some are from History Channel or some are what young film makers make. There are also A LOT of student videos that were made for their classes -
     
  8. Researcher

    Researcher Rookie

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    Mar 17, 2009

    Thank you, keep the great ideas coming...
    So far, I've:

    1) Cut down (by at least 1/3) on the content. Focusing more on themes and skills within each unit.

    2) Used media to help teach a lesson (docu, YouTube, websites, skits, etc).

    3) Teach each lesson or at least introduce concepts needed for any HW (which I've reduced from everyday to every other day or so).

    Any project ideas? So far, I've been trying to keep projects/rubrics based on the themes of geography and historical ages, but am open to ideas.

    Thank you!
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 17, 2009

    See if you can find a nifty little game called Chrononauts, http://www.wunderland.com/LooneyLabs/Chrononauts/About.html: it could get your kids playing with what things would be like if given events in history had played out differently, and you could perhaps have your kids research some of the events involved and figure out the likelihood of the alternative events the game proposes.
     
  10. luv_2_teach

    luv_2_teach Rookie

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    Apr 5, 2009

    I teach one S.S. class along with 2 ELA classes. I normally incorporate an activity for each chapter, sometimes not doing an activity for the chapter, depending on if we'll complete the chapter in 3 weeks. My book divides the chapters into 3-5 lessons, which I have the students read the lesson, answer q+a, and complete a workbook page. I then give them a play, or a webquest, or some kind of in-class project. The students love when I have "Chapter Showdowns" where they have a bee and the students get rewards for winning. I think they love the satisfaction of winning and its a great way to study for the test.

    I see how it can be hard for you to add lots of activities with that time limit

    I have 1 hour five days a week, making things like that a lot easier.
     
  11. carlea

    carlea Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2009

    Teacher Created Resources has a series called Mysteries in History - those are fun.
    Interact Simulations have many different simulations for SS - these are a lot of fun too.
    I usually have one project for each unit too. I've done The ABCs of (Egypt, Rome, etc. - can be adapted to any unit), skits, models, songs, brochures, and travel posters.
    My 8th grade class was unmotivated, didn't study outside the classroom, as a whole tended to score very low on tests. They scored the best after creating the ABC Book - they all said they learned a lot!
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 17, 2009

    How cool, carlea!
     
  13. katrinkit

    katrinkit Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2009

    For each chapter in our book, my students are given a "packet" which has all the information that must be read and understood. A typical packet might have -

    1. Section preview
    2. Pages to read from the book
    3. Any review questions
    4. One enrichment worksheet
    5. Notes (which go into a Interactive Notebook of sorts)

    I give this to students with a due date and they are responsible for the material. This frees my class time to...

    1. Discuss questions
    2. Watch videos
    3. Do small projects
    4. Do more authentic assessment
    5. Socratic Seminars
    6. Games
    7. Geography work

    On due dates, we review the notes and check over the worksheets.

    My class goes like this -

    1. Daily Geography
    2. Discussion/Video/Intro of Units
    3. Independent Work Time or Ongoing Project Work
     
  14. 100%Canadian

    100%Canadian Companion

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    Aug 18, 2009

    As a history major, I never found a textbook that did the past any good. In fact, in my 10 years of teaching, I don't think I've ever relied on the textbook for anything. I tend to make up my own things from various resources but when you're passionate about the subject, it's work you don't mind doing.

    For projects, look up "Lapbooking" on the internet. I found out about these two years ago from this forum and is easily a favourite among my students. It gives them a lot of room for creativity and it's almost like a SS/art project in one.

    If you can get into the details of whatever you're teaching, do your day-to-day stuff by telling stories. Stories make the past seem real; it's those lesser known facts that tend to capture the audience. When I taught Ancient Rome, I went into great detail about Roman toilets; odd, but they loved it - even if they cringed a few times.

    Making things multi-media also helps, but I see those have already been suggested.

    Another thing I've done is recreated a society (once with Medieval Times, another with Ancient Egypt) with the students assigned as role players in that society. For example, students picked roles from a cup (feudal society) and had to research that role. I had a bulletin board with a kingdom drawn on it and each student was given a character to colour and their characters were placed on the bulletin board. I can't remember how often I referred to it when we did that subject. We ended it with a feast where students could dress as their role in period costume.

    I've also done role playing games (like the old Dungeons & Dragons game) with European explorers and Roman gladiators. You have to teach them how to play it first (maybe even adapt the rules to your own needs) but that doubles as a math lesson since it involves dice. :)

    Finally, look around the web. There are all kinds of ideas out there that might inspire a great history lesson. If you can make the past as hands-on and interesting as possible (and that requires more work on your part), you may just fire these kids up enough to like history year after year.
     
  15. Researcher

    Researcher Rookie

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    Sep 7, 2009

    Great ideas! I like the idea of keeping it "hands-on," and I've been looking into lapbooks lately...they're really great, esp. for schools like ours that don't have enough time/resources for a separate art class (we have to integrate).

    :)

    I also just read in Wong's "The First Days of School" that teachers should not rely on the Read-Answer Text Qs-Review-Test method (I've done that, highly inefficient). The book suggests instead to read together, stop and ask thought-provoking questions, continue reading/stopping/asking Qs. Discuss, then assess. I have more research to do!
    Thanks again, and still open to more ideas!
     

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