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.
Category: Future of History
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.”
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.”
A struggling student’s recent exclamation that she UNDERSTOOD a history lesson confirmed to Shara Peters that her new school’s grading policy improves teaching and student achievement by shifting the emphasis from earning a higher grade to achieving mastery.
What works to help 7th graders understand the US Constitution? Former HS teacher Lauren S. Brown got a crash course in teaching the document as she returned to full-time teaching this fall. Slowing the pace, using the primary source, and blending in current events all helped.
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.
“I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot,” sings Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway show on his part in American history. Jody Passanisi & Shara Peters are enthusiastically sharing “Hamilton” with their 8th graders.
Song parodies can help students in history class create connections for themselves as they write their own lyrics about important events. As it turns out, writing songs in groups can also invoke 8th grade social machinations, teacher Jody Passanisi reports.