The antiracist protests occurring across the country since the killing of George Floyd have led Lauren Brown and Sarah Cooper – two white female middle school social studies teachers – to consider even more deeply “how best to teach U.S. history.” Join the conversation.
Category: Future of History
A History and Social Studies blog
The Chicago district where Lauren Brown teaches has wrestled with issues of equity centering around race with new urgency in recent years. Amid the pandemic and the rising Anti-Racist Movement, she believes part of the answer is deepening curriculum and teaching Black history throughout the year.
With her eighth graders’ online history podcast project now complete, Sarah Cooper shares six takeaways that have helped her imagine not only how to improve this assignment in future iterations, but how she can continue to grow as a teacher facilitating remote learning.
The pandemic has compelled Lauren Brown to draw on her answers to the core questions of teaching. The best she can offer her history students is clarity – to teach what she believes matters and why. “Because if it matters, my students will care. And if they care, they will learn.”
In response to the sudden shift to remote learning, history teacher Sarah Cooper has jettisoned her usual fourth-quarter Civil War unit and launched an opportunity for her 8th graders to create podcasts on challenging events in US history. Here’s the project in process.
The global pandemic “will be in the history books, won’t it?” Absolutely, 8th grade teacher Lauren Brown told her students. She’s devised a simple home assignment – students create a ‘primary source’ for future historians by jotting down their questions, concerns and observations. See her suggested prompts to get kids started.
Now that her interaction with students is limited to a two-dimensional screen, Sarah Cooper is experiencing what many middle school teachers must feel each day of virtual learning – she misses the physicality of her kids’ messy, evolving, nonlinear growing-up process.
Recently Sarah Cooper did two lessons with her eighth grade history and civics students that afterward made her stand back and ask: Why did that work out so well? Here she analyzes the women’s suffrage lessons to uncover the key elements of success for future reflection.
Writing a letter to a politician is about as “civic” an assignment as we can do within our classroom walls, and it feels so relevant in our polarized political climate. After 3 years of tweaking her project, teacher Sarah Cooper shares tips to boost the response rate.
“Imperative means the same thing as important, so why can’t we just say important?” asked Adele, a student in Lauren Brown’s US history class. How do we help kids learn the academic vocabulary they need to enrich writing and deepen understanding? Brown means to find out.