When I began teaching personal financial literacy, I learned quickly that my student’s perceptions, interpretations, and beliefs about money were very different from my own. As a former financial adviser, I was comfortable having conversations about money, but in the classroom I struggled to keep my students engaged. I realized that getting them to where I wanted them to be required me to meet them where they were. I needed to adapt my lesson plans to build on their experiences and relationships with personal finances.
Take a moment to think about all the ways we engage students inside and out of the classroom. Part of that work is how we present instruction and resources, and the other half is the content itself. Gone are the days where we are differentiating a textbook from the internet to grapple with direct instructional needs. Even curriculum created by local school districts has to create lessons on discernment of information gathering from a variety of resources. We now are living in a time where primary sources and authentic texts live online and where citations are now being created to reference videos, oral histories, and screenplays. The access to the variety of resources we have at our fingertips is vast and global. Exciting social studies texts and literature exist for your students to gain access to a wide array of diverse and inclusive perspectives from across history.
As Social Studies educators, we look at our job as preparing our students to be active and productive citizens once they leave the educational setting. Part of being productive citizens is learning to work with others and being able to think critically to solve problems. In our classroom, we need to provide our students the opportunity to develop and practice these important skills. We need to give them the opportunity to develop the necessary communication skills to work with others and the essential skills to solve problems that arise with determination and purpose.
In an era where it seems that every day comes with a “breaking news” headline, and where there is increasing scrutiny regarding what we talk about in our classes, it may seem like a challenge not worth accepting to work current events and controversial topics into our lessons. However, we also know how beneficial it is for students to have a place to engage in tough conversations with their peers, process the events of the world around them, and learn how to engage with media and with one another responsibly. This is the perfect opportunity for a microunit.
In his article “Black History Is Not American History,” which focuses on teaching Black history from a Black historical consciousness approach, Dr. LaGarrett King defines his second theme, Black agency, resistance ,and perseverance, as “Black histories that explain that although Black people have been victimized, they were not helpless victims.” This theme highlights ways that Black people have actively resisted oppression, both independently and collectively.
How can you focus on ways to assess your students based on the questions that they ask as opposed to the answers that they give you?
As a geography teacher, I often started the year with a lesson about how to lie with maps. In this lesson, I would expose the students to challenges with map distortions, like the Mercator map making Greenland appear to be the same size as all of South America, how changes in scale impact perception, or how colors can create a dramatic impression even when the data behind the shading is not. During the lesson, students frequently noted that similar issues occur in other ways information is represented visually, such as with data, photographs, or artwork. At this point students would often ask, “So how do you keep from getting deceived or misdirected by information and the way it is presented visually?” My answer: by applying visual literacy skills.
The Little Red Hen folktale has generally been read to exhort children to work hard, accept responsibility, and share with others.
In most communities, memorials, plaques, historical markers, and monuments are erected to record significant events or honor heroes and heroines.
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.