Before we get into the topic- I have created a Summer Hosting Sign up - I know summer is a crazy time of year for everyone and this year for me is no exception. I have 4 nights of Soccer, taking 2 graduate classes and teaching 1. I have always done the full summer of SSTLAP chats with the exception of maybe 4th of July.
I am proposing a summer hosting schedule for two reasons, 1. I am busier this summer than others. 2. and this is actually more important and something that I have wanted to do for awhile is allow others to host in order to drive the conversation and create PD that is meaningful to you and your needs. Please sign up on the document and take a week or two. I am always available to assist you with questions, creating graphics, etc. I just want to provide everyone a voice in the conversation.
Summer Hosting Sign Up https://goo.gl/3aE2A2
Creating and experience students will remember and making content relevant can be two different things. I have had students participate in debates, skits, mock trials and simulations. I have students create dynamic products of learning that I continue to share with others about how cool of an experience it was, and how impressed with students I am. I have seen teachers transform their classrooms, recreate events like the trenches in WWI. All of those things are amazing learning experiences. The question is, do students see the relevance or connection to their lives? Do we end the activity satisfied that the students have participated in the Immigration simulation through Ellis Island, or they understand why the North defeated the South during the Civil War? Do we take that next step in our activities and connect the learning to student’s lives? Or do we need to reinvent our lessons to focus on connecting to students and the content is secondary?
Q1 How do you make Social Studies, History, Sociology, Geography, Economics, Government relevant to students? Why is studying this stuff important?
Q2 Geography - Why should students care where things are located in the world? How can we make the study of Geography relevant? How can we teach it so it isn’t memorizing locations or coloring maps? Kids can Google where places are located, how do you teach Geography in a meaningful way that connects to student’s lives?
Q3 World History - That stuff happened thousands of years ago, what does it matter to me today? How can you connect events of the distant past to modern society? How can you show students that building of civilizations, empires, past discoveries, exploration matter to us today when they already happened? How do you teach WH so that it is relevant to their lives?
Q4 Economics - We studied the stock market, supply and demand and charts and graphs. Much of this was void of a personal connection to how I would use this. In a time when state and federal budgets are being debated, how could we connect those events to our study of economics and the impact that would have on students’ and their family’s lives? What about Government subsidies for corporations and businesses or other aspects of real world economics that aren’t discussed in text books. How do we hook students into studying economics by making it valuable and relevant to their experiences?
Q5 Government - I read an article recently about the news coverage of President Trump. First it stated that he has been the feature of news more frequently than other presidents. Now there could be reasons for that. No other president has been so actively engaged in Social Media as Trump. It could be the result of the shake ups within the administration that continue to cause headlines. It could be a lot of reasons. We currently have a president making headlines daily, but that isn’t always the case. How do we help students see the relevancy of the decisions that our federal and state government officials are making and the impact on their lives? How do we help students learn to be well informed and not victims of Fake News or Alternative Facts?
Q6 What are ways you bring relevancy to what you teach? Share some examples of lessons you connect with student’s lives. If you don’t have a list, share ideas of what you could do with existing lessons/content to make those connections.
Q7 Bonus - Collaboration time - What are some topics or content areas that you are struggling to find relevancy to your students? What are some areas you are looking for help or would like to beg, borrow, steal, or collaborate with others to find relevant lesson ideas?
I attended WCSS Wisconsin Council for Social Studies board meeting this weekend and while our agenda didn't cover lesson plans, content, or other ways to bring content alive in the classroom at this meeting, it did inspire me to bring this conversation to #sstlap.
In the classroom were shower curtains everywhere. What was on them was pretty cool. Students demonstrated their understanding of Government and History content by creating visuals on these curtains.
Then a teacher next to me was discussing Wisconsin Media Labs and some of the great resources there. As part of the conversation I thought he was talking about characters so I shared with him Quinn Rollin's Play Like a Pirate and the activity of creating action figures. I also shard Michael Milton's Bill of Right's Super Heroes lesson idea. Yes I love sharing what my PLN has created. On the ride home I was talking with a colleague who shared her Shark Tank lesson where students researched a charity and then presented to community members to secure donations of real money for their chosen charity. They had to work together to create their presentation by researching and sharing the work load so anyone could present, and in some cases that happened as team members were absent the day of the presentation. We discussed how we have and could create authentic audiences and make better lessons. Did I mention that we didn't have lesson plans on our agenda, but I can't help discussing the great lessons that I have learned about as it creates opportunities for others to share their great ideas that I can then steal and share with others.
Lesson ideas/Question ideas
Q1 When you create your lessons, what is the driving force behind the lesson? Where do you start?
Do you start with the content as the driving force?
Do you start with the assessment, or measurement in mind?
Do you start with the activity as the focus?
Do you start with skill development as your primary mission?
Q2 How can you incorporate current modern events into your study of history? Example - you are teaching students about slavery, Roman, American, etc. and connecting it to modern times to help students understand the realities of slavery - What modern current events can help students understand the concept of slavery - Human Trafficking or other news events.
Q3 Creating PIRATE lessons everyday is tough. How can you move towards ticket lessons everyday? Start with how you present information to students? What are ways you can enhance your presentation of information to students that makes it engaging?
Q4 What creative things have you done in your classroom to make the activity, lesson, unit more engaging, relevant and valuable for your students? If you haven't read Quinn Rollins' Play Like A Pirate, consider this summer reading as you will learn how to use legos, action figures, Barbies, and other toys to create opportunities for critical thinking.
Q5 Assessment - how do you assess your students? Are you looking for factoid Googleable information that is plotted on multiple choice questions, or are you asking for deeper meaning? Assessing deeper meaning can be more challenging. So what are some ways that you have or could provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning in creative, meaningful ways. PBL, Authentic Audiences might come into play here. Share some examples you have created.
Q6 Do the work of the content you are studying. If you student history, shouldn't students chronicle history, analyze primary sources, study and create documents of events. Economics students might look at the impact of an increase of a sales tax, or a gas tax might have on the local economy. Political Science/Government students might find a local issue they can relate to and create a plan of action. How do you connect students to the work of historians, economists, sociologists, psychologists, geologists, politicians or government officials?
Q7 This is really Q6b- to assist students with delving into real world activities, they will likely need mentors or people to support them because as teachers we don't know everything. So how can you bring in experts into your classroom, even if you live miles from an urban center? I just heard of nepris.org which connects industry experts to schools. Not promoting but this could be an avenue to assist students in learning more about a topic they choose to study.