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.
Many students have trouble understanding the geographic context of United States history even though they can often relate the themes to their lives. When teachers move to world geography, the problem of relating to the content is compounded many times over. Students rarely have the background knowledge or geographic literacy to understand where things happened in the past. Thus, making the connection between distant places and history to modern society and their own lives can be very difficult.
Interpreting political cartoons can be a real challenge for many students in the classroom. Students struggle to recognize the people, symbols, and events without context, making deducing the message of the cartoonist nearly impossible. Create a political cartoon scavenger hunt activity to help your students identify who and what is depicted. With this basic knowledge, interpreting the larger message conveyed by the cartoonist becomes easier.
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?
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.
Teachers should offer a wide variety of literacy support in their social studies curricula, otherwise students can fall behind.
Do you remember your favorite teacher?
Who could ever forget that teacher? Who could ever forget the special way that teacher inspired you and made you a better student and person at the same time?
A recent conversation with a seven-year-old has given me a lot to think about. I started with the typical questions and eventually worked my way to the topic of school. “What do you think of school?”
Service learning has been a cornerstone of my educational approach for over a decade. In service learning, students apply the scientific method to real-world problems and offer real-world solutions.