The Maya were one of the most dominant societies in Mesoamerica, settling throughout Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and the Yucatán. They excelled at astronomy, calendar systems, hieroglyphic writing, and mathematics. They were also skilled farmers, weavers, and potters.
The golden age of the Maya empire began around A.D. 250 and grew to some forty cities. The Maya made paper from tree bark, wrote books, created a ball game, developed the concept of zero, predicted eclipses of the sun and moon, and invented rubberized rain clothing. The study of this civilization would enhance any social studies class.
Serena Williams, Tom Brady, and Michael Jordan have many things in common. They are all considered the greatest in their sports or even the greatest athletes of all time. However, that is not the commonality that draws my focus.
Young learners need meaningful digital learning experiences that can help them navigate websites safely and appropriately and set a foundation for the rest of their academic career. Create this engaging experience with a web quest that helps students to identify primary and secondary sources.
The Thanksgiving holidays are fast-approaching, and I am excited. This is the time of year when I get to cook some of my favorite seafood dishes for friends and family. As I plan the menu for roughly thirty people, I have quite a bit to consider:
As teachers we know we need to assess our students to determine their “grade” in our class, but is there a better way to do that? Are we assessing their ability to take the test we created or are we truly assessing if they learned the content that was taught?
Children need to learn the beauty of the natural world before they become interested in saving it. Young children learn through their senses and experiences. In an everyday walk, children can learn how the weather changes, how people interact with the environment, how things move, and the characteristics of a place. Parents and teachers can help children learn the basis for geographic knowledge in everyday experiences. The following recommendations can be used as inspiration during a field trip or for parents to utilize for a fun outdoor activity.
Agency is a key concept in social studies, but students often misunderstand or struggle with the term. A simple definition for agency is “the amount of control an individual has over decisions or actions in life.” While we often assume we have lots of agency, social structures such as religion, family, laws, the economy, or social class work to limit the power of individuals. It may be helpful to illustrate the concepts of agency and social structure on opposite ends of a continuum. Follow up with scenarios or examples to demonstrating how one’s power can be difficult to categorize.
Feeling overwhelmed by the polarization and bitterness in our society today? The Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692 offers historical perspective on the divisions in America in 2021, but it also suggests ideas for reconciliation.
An election year provides the perfect opportunity for teachers to incorporate civics into the curriculum. Through the election process, teachers can implement citizenship lessons and at the same time provide a model for the democratic system in the classroom. Although these lessons can be taught anytime, I believe they work best in an election year—whether it be the year of a presidential, congressional, or even school district election. The culminating activity allows teachers to parallel the election process with the election of class officers.
When I taught first grade, a small grant allowed me to get funding to buy a hot plate, griddle, measuring utensils, pots, knives, bowls, cutting boards, and other necessities to introduce my students to flavors and aromas unknown to their senses. However, we not only ate the food but also used the food for tactile learning experiences and learning social studies content. It was a unique teaching experience for me and allowed my students to compare and contrast various cultures through food.