TACOS Anyone?

Doing Social Studies

Fortunately for me, my school district sends teachers to an AP Institute every other summer put on by College Board. In 2012, I attended one in Plano, TX and enrolled in a Pre-AP U.S. History course with Rhonda Johnson (who I decided is my hero). I learned so many great skills and strategies that promote historical thinking and analyzing in my students!

I went thinking I would get ideas for my 8th grade American History course (non-Pre AP) but instead I applied almost everything to my 6th grade Pre-AP social studies class. I’m increasing reading and writing skills while (quietly and discretely) preparing these 11 and 12 year olds for AP courses in high school! It. is. awesome.

Some examples:

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A different type of professional development

Doing Social Studies

Ok, we all know that one of the perks of being a teacher is that for about a month and a half we can think of this other than school. But if any of you are like me (which I’m guessing since you’re reading this blog in the summertime – you probably are!) summer isn’t as leisurely as people think. I feel that summer is a perfect time to reflect on my teaching philosophy, think about new things I want to try in my classroom, read blogs, maybe attend a workshop here and there, find ideas on the internet for experience-enhancing activities, and so on. The beauty of being a teacher is that we get to try things over and over again if we messed up the first time! I’m so happy that I get a new set of kiddos in August because I learn so much over the summer…

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Integrating Technology in Social Studies Curriculum

Doing Social Studies

Here are some happenings within the social studies department at my school:

About a year ago, my social studies department decided we wanted to step outside of the box. We were tired of sharing our building-wide computer carts and iPad cart with the other departments (especially ELA – what ever happened to hand-writing an essay?). Our administrators were totally on board and willing to support us in any way that they could.

We contemplated many different options before settling on Discovery Education’s new curriculum – the Techbook. No we didn’t spend our summer’s creating our own iBooks – that will come later, at least for me. But we were preparing ourselves for some intense professional training a few weeks before school started from Discovery Education to introduce us to this new curriculum.

However, in true eduction fashion, that training didn’t happen before school started, and our new iPad minis…

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How I use “Discrepant Event Inquiry” in my classroom

Doing Social Studies

A few years ago, I was introduced to “Discrepant Event Inquiry” from Glenn Wiebe. (Here is another post about it from his History Tech blog). The idea is that you take an image and only reveal a little bit at a time. As I reveal a little bit of the picture, the students must guess Who is in the picture, What is happening, When was the photograph taken, and Where is this taking place. This encourages students to think outside the box and it also does WONDERS with questioning and how to ask the right questions. Naturally, I turned this into a competition.

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Vocab: A great place to start!

Doing Social Studies

Something I like to do with my sixth graders is start each unit off with a vocabulary activity. There are several different things I’ve done, sometimes I take about 30 words from the unit and have the kids put them in categories before I tell them what the words mean. I let them choose the categories as long as they have at least 4 or 5. Kids work in groups then share with the class. We compare categories and see which ones are similar – it’s a great way to introduce words that kids have never heard of before.

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