Switching Subjects to Social Studies

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by kbee1219, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. kbee1219

    kbee1219 Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2010

    Hi everyone~

    So I am starting my fifth year teaching this September and I feel almost like a first year teacher all over again. Even though I graduated with a certification in Social Studies through a series of interesting events I wound up teaching Math. Finally, I was able to move into an 8th grade US History Social Studies position for this upcoming year.

    My problem now is I need to flip the way I think about teaching since the content is pretty different. I was wondering if you could help me out.

    Are there any teaching strategies that work well specifically for Social Studies?

    What kinds of things are must haves for a Social Studies classroom?

    Is there anything else specifically I should think of/do/ prepare to be for Social Studies?

    Thanks in advance for all your help,

    K
     
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  3. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Aug 20, 2010

    I'm an SS teacher that doesn't emphasize dates or memorization. I want my students to know that history isn't about WHEN something happened, but its an investigation as to WHY and HOW something happened.
    See if there is a Teaching American History grant around your area. They are GREAT for giving lesson examples and professional developments. They emphasize the use of Primary Source documents in the classroom which help develop analytical skills.
    SS is such a fun subject and I love it. :) I've taught 8th/US and miss it, but also love teaching 7th/World.
    Make it fun and interesting for you to teach, and the students will more than likely find it interesting too.
    Have fun! Be creative! You're in PA - Take a field trip! :)
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Aug 20, 2010

    I've been teaching Social Studies for twenty years. I've taught math for five also:

    1. Social Studies is a lot easier to make fun and engaging that Math. In SS, you need not to rely on the textbook. Instead focus on primary sources, other readings, projects, simulations, and activities.
    2. Writing needs to be emphasized. I would do an essay per unit with smaller essays woven in throughout the unit.
    3. CONTENT KNOWLEDGE. Go out tomorrow and buy a college level U.S. History text. Whenever, you cover something in class you need to know way more than the kids do. Use this book to keep ahead of them.
    4. Keep notes at a minimum. I do lecture almost everyday (3-4 days a week, but I keep it at a 30 minute maximum, after that kids are lot). Use PowerPoint to lecture. Include relevant media (videos, pictures, etc.) and try and make it interactive by including discussion questions, games, surveys, etc.
    5. If you are going to show a video, only show the good interesting parts. Always assign an assignment to be complete with the video at this level. I prefer video questions.
    6. History can be a lot to master at times. Give quizzes frequently over the material you cover in class and as homework. I give quizzes weekly.
    7. Creativity is your friend in History. Try to do as many simulations, projects, activities, etc. to keep kids interested. Always try and relate it to modern day whether it be through politics, music, or entertainment. For example, when I teach about the Index in Western Civilization we do a mini-activity discussion censorship today in Books and Music (after 9/11).
    8. Get organized. Figure out what units you are teaching. Make a folder for each course on your computer and start copying and pasting ideas. Then go back and make more formal lesson plans. Do not let the textbook take control over planning! You should only use the textbook when there is no other better reading out there.
    9. A huge part of history is research. Try to do at least one research project per marking period. For me these projects range from a traditional research paper, to a Facebook for a president, to an activity where I split them up into groups and let them teach the class on a particular topic.
    10. Discussion, debate, and mock trials are so much fun! I do mock trials for John Brown, Hitler, and a variety of other people. They take awhile, but boy do my kids love doing this! I also try and include a formal, student-led discussion every other week or so.

    If you need any help with coming up with Primary Source Activities, any of the creative stuff, projects, notes, worksheets, readings, etc. or if you need any clarification feel free to PM me!
     
  5. fratermus

    fratermus Companion

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    Aug 20, 2010

    In Texas the most important SS strategy is to coach football. :-\

    Kidding (kinda). Reading along with interest.
     
  6. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Aug 20, 2010

    First off, congratulations on getting the subject you originally wanted! Secondly, here's my advice:

    - I've taught 8th grade. Treat them like high schoolers but don't forget that a sticker on a test, a review game and some corny jokes go a long way with them. Don't treat them like babies, however.
    - Begin teaching them how to write a good, solid, fact-driven essay. In fact, if your students are strong writers by the end of the year, introduce an opinion paper. I LOVE opinion papers! (I normally have them do one on something related to the Constitution.)
    - Introduce note taking strategies and test taking tips. Believe it or not, many probably don't understand time management for both completing assignments and taking a test.
    - Have them do a research project.
    - Keep homework minimal--don't assign busy work at all.
    - USE PRIMARY SOURCES!
    - USE PRIMARY SOURCES!!
    - DOn't rely on the text or movies.
    - Use group work and group lessons to make history come alive.

    I've got somewhere to be, but if you have any questions on specific lessons or anything, feel free to message me and I'd be happy to go into further detail!
     
  7. kbee1219

    kbee1219 Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2010

    Thank you so much after reading such helpful post the knot in my stomach definitely has gotten smaller. I really appreciate all of the help :)
     

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