After three hate crimes in one week in late October, 8th grade teacher Sarah Cooper came in on Monday ready to talk, “to imagine how we could react in healing ways.” Yet, as her first class began, “I realized this conversation would be different. As a Jew, I felt shaken.”
Author: Sarah Cooper
Sarah Cooper’s world has expanded since she became a podcast convert. She’s found many podcasts to love: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, Jennifer Gonzalez’s Cult of Pedagogy and more. Among her top favorites is “Teaching Hard History” from Teaching Tolerance.
Current events add immediacy to history class, but with crowded curricula and the challenges of the political climate, Sarah Cooper is fine-tuning the news discussions in her 8th grade classes. She shares several stories and explains what makes them right for fall 2018.
Despite the success of last spring’s well informed debates in her 8th grade U.S. History classes, Sarah Cooper is taking an indefinite break from the no-holds-barred, winner-takes-all style of discussion in favor of more collaborative, consensus building strategies.
When Sarah Cooper launches an op-ed writing project, students respond best if they have wide latitude to choose a topic, picking an issue that sparks a personal connection. Beyond research and writing, the highlight for kids is sharing their op-eds with an audience.
Moving current events front and center has been one of the most influential paradigm shifts in Sarah Cooper’s years of teaching U.S. History. How does she find the time? Learn three simple ways to help students stay attuned to the news and make historical connections.
This year, as 8th graders at Sarah Cooper’s school developed their community impact projects, she added a twist to the required (but seldom read) 300-word research display. Intriguing quotes, many with engaging graphics, increased student investment and audience attention.
As students research US history for Sarah Cooper, they are used to trying search terms on a screen. But when assignments require them to wander the stacks for books, sometimes they don’t know where to begin. Answering their questions has given her ideas to share here.
Sarah Cooper’s eighth graders take a “Bread and Roses” metaphor from the Progressive Era to the fight for the ERA – making insightful comparisons Cooper had not anticipated. “Giving students room to make their own connections meant that they could teach me,” she says.
Recently Sarah Cooper’s history classes debated whether the electoral college should be abolished. Reflecting on the weeklong unit, Cooper concludes she “misstepped” in several ways. Learn what she plans to do differently next year, starting with a fresh debate topic.