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.
Category: Future of History
After many years teaching high school & college students, Lauren Brown re-entered a middle school classroom last fall as a full-time social studies teacher. She describes her delight with young adolescents who greeted history with enthusiasm and deep discussions.
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.”
Jody Passanisi, an eighth grade teacher and author of “History Class Revisited,” uses a three-step scaffolding process to help students raise their awareness between events currently taking place and the historical events they study in the social studies curriculum.
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.”
Today’s history students need to include evaluation, analysis, and synthesis in writing assignments, going well beyond the traditional reporting of facts. Shara Peters and Jody Passanisi share their methods for helping students improve their writing skills.
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.
Project-based learning in history class can be challenging as teachers juggle a content-laden curriculum and limited class time. Shara and Jody and their tech colleague Doug Hinko set out to find practical ways to make PBL work with a unit on medieval China.
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.
When U.S. history teachers Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters celebrate Presidents’ Day, all 43 presidents are featured. Eighth graders research and assume the identity of an assigned president, then campaign in costume for reelection among 6th & 7th grade “voters.”