Usually I am really excited to go back to school, but this year the summer really flew by! (I am pretty sure getting up at 6AM to take my daughter to cross country practice had something to do with that.....) I spent a lot of time reflecting on what worked and didn't work in my classroom. For my BTS resources, I will highlight what I felt went really well last year.
Teaching Social StudiesMy brother and I are both social studies teachers at heart, and it just kills me to see how often social studies gets put off due to time constraints. When it does get taught, often we tell students to "use the book." Honestly, that just doesn't work. Let me explain why.
Most kids don't know how to find things in a text.
There. I said it.
As some of you know, I have been helping my son struggle through vision therapy this past year. Experts estimate that at least 10% of students struggle with an undiagnosed vision problem. For students like my son, their eyes cannot track. At all. Seriously. Imagine him trying to read a question at the end of the chapter and looking back through the multipage lesson for the answer.
Yep, that isn't happening.
Then think about students like my daughter, Dream student. Perfect behavior, loves overachieving, always gets her work done, but hates social studies. (Brings me to tears, you have no idea.) Unless you make social studies interactive, she is in la-la-land.
Using Interactive NotebooksI resisted the interactive notebook.foldables bandwagon for a long time. I thought, "Who has time to get these kids to cut and glue?!!!" I kept seeing blog after blog talk about these interactive notebooks, and I really wondered what kind of utopia people worked in.
Until the overachieving daughter came home and said she was bombing the end of course practice exams for civics. And the exam was in a week.
At that point I figured I should really try something new, because her friend wasn't coming either and wanted to join our "class in a week." I began designing foldables specifically tailored to the EOC content. Now, my girl hates to cut and glue, but she was actually remembering the material. (They both scored in the top score range, I am proud to say.)
With that success, I decided to try the foldables with my 5th grade kids. It was May, so I figured I had nothing to lose - and I could see how well they worked.
They LOVED it. I mean, 10 out of 10. I couldn't believe it. This was not the easiest class to manage, and even my complainers took notes without complaining!
Integrating Social Studies and Language Arts
on specific topics. The guiding questions help lower readers break down the text. After a chapter or two, I was able to make the social studies foldables an independent activity or work with a group while the class worked on the lesson.
Students loved the INBs so much that they commented that they wouldn't get to do them with the next teacher! Students were weighing their notebooks and asking if they could keep them. It really wasn't til the last marking period that I realized how much ownership students took over their notebooks.
Teaching Students About Themselves
Another popular lesson I did was my flap book on learning styles, multiple intelligences, and right & left brain. I used this during the first week of school, and I had students complete one section per day. We discussed what it meant to be a visual learner vs. a kinesthetic or auditory learner or
what the different intelligences meant. Every time I mentioned study skills, we would talk about a good strategy for the different types of learners.
Included in the activity is a sort summary describing each type of learner or multiple intelligence. For younger students, I simply copy the information and they can cut and paste it in their booklet. For older students, teachers could probably read the information.
This activity also really helped me see the personality of my class. I had a lot of kinesthetic learners last year, so I knew that I had to integrate a lot of movement!
I hope you enjoy reading everyone's linkies and get some great ideas for this year!