How often do you step away from your social studies curriculum to get to know your students? Once a week? Once a month? Do you ever make specific plans or set aside specific time in your lessons to build meaningful, appropriate relationships with your kids?
Etiquette comprises rules to follow and manners expected of a person in social or professional situations. Today, the components of etiquette have been rebranded as “soft skills,” the behaviors that help people work well with others.
For my first permanent teaching position, I was lucky enough to fill a history position at a small K-8 school in a rural community. I say lucky for several reasons.
Young children understand stories and love to have books read to them often to the point that they memorize and can recite a favorite story from memory. Narratives establish supportive conditions in the brain for learning and remembering (McTighe and Willis, 2019). As young learners brains develop, their imaginations also run wild, and they love to pretend. Combining these two elements, the role-play with the narrative, is the basis for the Storypath learning method.
Labor Day commemorates the American worker on the first Monday in September. This upcoming Labor Day, remember to highlight the history of workers who are often overlooked or forgotten: slaves, domestic laborers, military-camp followers, and children.
Do you purposely plan your lessons with your students’ “interests” in mind? If not, you should start doing so immediately.
This past school year, I transitioned from a K–8 school to a high school. I went from teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to ninth and twelfth graders. In short, it was a big jump going from a middle school setting to the high school.
Early in the school year, students often ask me, “why do I need a history class?” They go on to say they know why science, math, and English are taught, but they don't know why they need to learn so many random dates and historical facts. They are skeptical about memorizing facts from the past and its relevance to their future. I generally respond by saying something along the lines of, “you don’t need to memorize everything,” because a vast amount of information is readily available to today’s students online, but I emphasize that there's more to history and social studies than just dates and figures.
Teachers should offer a wide variety of literacy support in their social studies curricula, otherwise students can fall behind.
Vocabulary instruction in social studies is important because it builds background knowledge that is essential when students are assigned to read complex non-fiction texts. When students have a strong vocabulary, it makes them better readers.