For the first time in a lot of years, I’m teaching social studies. It’s actually been kind of fun. After 2 years of teaching a highly scripted curriculum, the idea that I can plan my own lessons is quite liberating!
We’ve been working on the United States, with a lot of success. Our book divides it into 4 regions, so we’ve worked on a region at a time. Before we began, I gave the students a map of the United States and asked them to write down all the states and capitals they could. Obviously, they weren’t able to do many.
Then, we started with the Northeast United States. The formula I’ve found for studying each region is:
Day 1 – we watch a video from Discovery Education about the region. These are great because they have discussion questions embedded in the video.
Day 2 & 3 – we read the section from the book and discuss what we’re reading. While I would like to think they can understand what they read as they go, trust me, they need a LOT of help!
Day 4 – start a project to use what they have learned.
At the end of the second week, we have a quiz over the states and capitals of that region.
After the first quiz, I started giving them the previous quiz(zes) along with the current one. Research shows the best way to learn information to be tested over it. So, while they don’t get a grade on the old quiz, it’s a good way for them to pull that information back out of their brains. Most of them take it very seriously and do their best on the review quizzes, even though it’s not for a grade.
I also started the first quiz handback giving students who got 100% a Starburst (because they are stars). While it won’t necessarily motivate someone who refuses to study, it’s a nice little reward to those who do. They LOVE it (I know, what they won’t do for a little piece of candy!)
In my next post, I’ll share the projects we’ve been doing. It’s been fun to see the creative ways their minds think!