The history of America was built by many cultures and ethnic groups. American history encompasses a myriad of cultures, and during the month of February we get the opportunity to celebrate and put a spotlight on Black history and how a race of marginalized people continue to strive against the odds and work toward equality.
February is the month that many teachers typically introduce information about the sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. From his lessons on money to his famous Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln is heralded as a great American hero. The question to consider is “How can one know the man who is so overwhelmingly portrayed by iconography (monuments and memorials)?”
Capitalism, socialism, and communism are three key concepts in social studies, with complex definitions and complicated histories. Explaining these concepts in the classroom is muddled even more by how these words are used in modern media. The meaning is often obscured by political alliances and deliberate attempts to mislead.
Writing has become an integral part of the social studies curriculum. Students need to know that this activity strengthens their reading skills as well as helps them to embrace the content more fluidly. When writing about specific historical events, oftentimes students must research their topic to gain factual knowledge. This is an important aspect to documenting and understanding historical events accurately.
Are you looking for a way to promote professional development for teachers in your district at a time when face-to-face meetings are becoming increasingly complicated, if not impossible?
January 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of the annual For-Teachers-by-Teachers Conference presented by our district, the Houston Independent School District. This conference allows the teachers who make up our secondary social studies teacher leader corps program the space and time to authentically exhibit their new learning content, instructional strategies, district instructional resources, and the skills needed to successfully create and execute professional development.
American democracy began as an experiment. Historically, nations around the world were empires founded on a hierarchy of monarchs or dictatorship. The founding fathers implemented the US Constitution to ensure that the new nation would be different and represent the interests of all individuals rather than aristocrats—hence the creation of our democratic two-party system of government and the electoral college voting system that elects the presiding members of the executive branch.
Throughout the years, teachers have used music in instruction, such as the ABC song, to teach the alphabet, and “The Hokey Pokey,” to teach body parts and directions. As one of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence areas, music is a great tool to use to teach social studies. The pattern and rhythm of songs encourage memory, movement, and creativity with students. Music is a part of children's daily life and therefore a connection to real-world learning.
As the end of the first semester during COVID-19 approaches, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how the experience has gone and what I can do going forward to make the school year a better experience for the students and myself.
Keeping students at the secondary level engaged in the virtual environment is difficult. Sitting in front of a computer anywhere between four to eight hours a day can be draining and taxing on a student’s mental health and overall brain power, but you can make virtual learning fun!