Teaching U.S. History: making it worthwhile

Discussion in 'General Education' started by magister, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. magister

    magister Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 5, 2009

    First year teacher teaching U.S. History, eighth grade.

    I'm wondering how to make teaching history a fantastic and meaningful experience for these students. Often I feel like I'm teaching sporadically, a few worksheets here, a vid clip there, a group project, then reading. I'm looking for something unique or at the least, something where they really appreciate the past. There's so much information on the net that I'm overwhelmed.

    Thank You
     
  2.  
  3. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Messages:
    4,492
    Likes Received:
    100

    Nov 5, 2009

    Your enthusiasm and love of the subject (porvided you have it and express it) is what will most likely catch their interest and cause them to become "hooked on history". I never taught 8th grade American history, only 5th grade. Every year without fail at least a few kids would come in thinking history was stupid. By the time we hit the colonies I had most of them eating out of my hand. I love American history in general (some topics more than others) and they pick up on that passion. The things that don't interest me so much, like the explorers and the Westward movement, I have to fake the enthusiasm for. And I make sure to move on as quickly as possible without missing any of the standards. It's the stories and quirkiness of history that make it fun, not the gimmicks.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Nov 5, 2009

    I agree, absolutely. It's one big long novel, one that simply doesn't have a last chapter. I LOVE history, and this is as an outsider looking (and listening) in.

    The high point of tomorow's school day will be 5th period, as I give a test to my freshman geometry class. I teach across the hall from Kevin, and I'll have the whole period to evesdrop on his history lesson. (He's teaching sophs, world history.) He knows more than most people I've ever met, and his classes are lively, informative, and a lot of fun. One day I walked by and he was playing the song "Vincent" while showing the art of Van Gogh. Another time he was talking about hemophelia, why it was called the "Royal disease" and why it was significant historically. (I normally only catch bits and pieces of his lessons on my way to my classroom before the period ends. Test days are the exception.)

    It's not possible NOT to love history if you're within listening distance of his class.
     
  5. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2007
    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    7

    Nov 5, 2009

    US History is by far the most difficult subject to teach out of my 5. There is so much information out there it's ridiculous! I, too, feel overwhelmed by it all. Hang in there!
     
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,974
    Likes Received:
    1

    Nov 6, 2009

    Make it relevant and fun. Compare it to their past when ever possible. Do MEANINGFUL hands-on activities, projects, and simulations. My High Schoolers still love all the fun activities we do. Try moving away from the textbook and I gurantee everyone will have a better time.
     
  7. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Messages:
    4,492
    Likes Received:
    100

    Nov 6, 2009

    I tried not to use too many "busy work" worksheets. I tried to limit worksheets in general since I only had X amount of paper given to me at the beginning of the year, but the worksheets I gave had a definite purpose: map skills mostly, but some also were reviews for tests or part of a bigger project. If I could, I had them do other work on loose leaf paper as much as possible so they could practice writing complete sentences, summary paragraphs, etc. They needed the practice anyway.

    Some of the things my kids enjoyed, and you might be able to use or modify, included readers theater, writing skits and performing them, creating flap time lines (event, year, and illustration on flap with info underneath) Internet scavenger hunts, and making globes out of pumpkins. When we watched videos they had a list of questions they had to answer as they watched.
     
  8. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,809
    Likes Received:
    190

    Nov 6, 2009

    I don't remember what class it was for but we had to interview our grandparents...now maybe great grandparents about what kind clothes, chores, what the did for fun...questions that are really interesting to the kids & to the adults. I think at the time my grandpa was around 75, but lived through both World Wars, so you can imagine the things I learned about him.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. LaFish,
  2. miss-m
Total: 223 (members: 6, guests: 190, robots: 27)
test