The idea of asking students to create eye-catching, source-rich websites is appealing, writes history teacher Sarah Cooper. But are the two weeks spent learning the tech and developing content a good investment of class time? She reflects on both sides of the issue.
Author: Sarah Cooper
This fall Sarah Cooper is taking her usual current events unit in a fresh direction using a favorite strategy: layering news from today and yesterday. To demonstrate, Cooper draws on everything from suffragette “campaign” quotes to a John Oliver clickbait tirade.
Sarah Cooper’s spring U.S. history classes provided a dress rehearsal for the upcoming fall election season. Here are six classroom-tested strategies she plans to use during Constitution studies as her middle schoolers experience America’s often volatile political process first-hand.
In Sarah Cooper’s never-ending effort to reach beyond textbook basics, she sometimes asks students to read a selection from a scholarly journal article or popular history book. Carefully sharing a JSTOR piece on Sherman’s March helped students grasp “total war.”
Near the end of Sarah Cooper’s unit on the film Glory, she wondered what her 8th grade history students found most interesting. Read about the “silent conversation” she facilitated to help them replicate the authentic adult experience of “browsing history.”
After a decade of forgoing the activity, Sarah Cooper recently revisited hand-drawn concept maps as a means to further engage her 8th graders in US reform movements. Here she shares ideas she’ll use to deepen the successful assignment next time.
Sarah Cooper’s 8th graders recently attempted to create a “consensus document” on U.S. gun laws. She describes the research and discussion process, then shares what she and the students learned about consensus building when issues are highly controversial.
Current events discussions can be “a litany of disappointment” if they focus only on the dreary headlines of the day. Fortunately, writes social studies teacher Sarah Cooper, “sometimes students bring in articles that make us all laugh and think and give us hope.”
The debate about whether to teach history thematically or chronologically still captivates & frustrates Sarah Cooper. As she considers her time-hopping unit on federalism, she wonders which approach can best inspire students to apply more history to their lives.
FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech in 1941 versus Donald Trump’s debate performances this year: meaningful connection or unfair comparison? Sarah Cooper describes her recent lesson and presents her new ground rules for history and current event mashups.