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.