6 Ways to Avoid Lecturing in Social Studies

One of the most irritating stereotypes of history teachers is that of the long-winded lecturer who drones on while the whole class sleeps. Maybe you experienced a class like this one in college. 

It's one of the simplest ways to present a lot of info and lends itself to many teachers' natural ability to communicate. Lecturing can be great, also. There are some captivating storytellers that can enthrall and educate students with nothing but their own stories. 

Most of us, however, don't have that ability and many students struggle to pay attention through an entire lecture. That's why, when I do use a PowerPoint to cover content, I keep things short (20-ish minutes), make it as visually appealing as possible, and ask lots of questions to get students involved. 

While all of that certainly helps, you still might find it beneficial to change things up throughout the year and do some different things to avoid lecturing. Here are a few ideas you can try out in...

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9 Classroom Management Tips for Teaching High School

I've taught high school for 15 years. However, I vividly remember the tremendous struggles I had my first years teaching. Classroom management was not something that came naturally to me. It takes every teacher a few years to find their footing and feel comfortable leading a classroom. 

Once you do develop strong classroom management skills, however, learning will increase exponentially and you can try more awesome lessons that would have made you nervous to try in year one. 

Here’s my best classroom management advice for high school teachers. I broke it down into 9 simple reminders that I think can help any secondary teacher have great classroom management.

1) Know Your Kids 

First and foremost, you need to learn your students’ names as soon as possible. This is a way to make an immediate connection and show right away that you care about them as people.  There are teachers in October who are still learning names. Don’t be like that! 

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6 Strategies for Using Interactive Notebooks

Interactive notebooks are an amazing tool to use in the classroom. The graphic organizers can help students categorize and better understand content. Students also almost always enjoy making them!

The hands-on and creative aspect of interactive notebook pages lend themselves well to fostering student creativity and allowing students to demonstrate their understanding of important concepts. I started using them years ago and gradually made them more detailed and interactive as the years went by. 

I use a number of different resources in my classroom, but for years have experimented with different ways of using interactive notebook activities. At first, I would go through them together with students. However, I wanted a more student-centered classroom and sought ways to allow students more freedom to interpret our content. This led me to having students working on the pages either independently or together and then sharing what they created. 

However, I still see the...

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Five Ways to Make Awesome Stations Lessons!

Stations lessons are some of my favorite activities in my social studies classes. They're a great way to get kids up and moving around the room and that's more engaged in whatever topic recovering. Instead of just sitting at their seats at traditional way and taking in material, they're able to move around the room and learn.

They also work with any subject area and any unit you might be covering in history. They can be higher level, with students analyzing more advanced texts and sources at each station, or feature simple political cartoons, maps, or short excerpts at each station for lower level classrooms.

There’s no set template that you need to use for all stations lessons, but here are 5 ways to make your stations lesson plans rock!

1) To Time or Not to Time the Stations?

Stations can definitely vary in the structure. You might want to set a timer for a specific amount of time that students spend at each station. Or, it might work best if students are free to spend...

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6 Awesome Insta-Worthy Classroom Activities

As all teachers know, it is a long school year. Over the course of 180 school days, there are bound to be point where both you as a teacher, and the students, are burned out, bored, or just otherwise not excited about the curriculum.

It’s at points of the year like that where I try to infuse something different or fun to break our class out of that monotony and infuse some much needed life into the classroom. At first, I tried just taking the class outside or just some fun activities. However, I’ve since developed a variety of engaging ways to bring a little spice to whatever lesson we need to cover.

I was inspired by the rise of the “Insta-worthy” museum to bring these together and share with you here. Insta-worthy museums and exhibits cater to the visual appeal of Instagram and people wanting to document their experiences. In the same way, students are drawn to these same kinds of experiences and I’ve often seen kids snapping pictures when we do...

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7 Best World War 2 Activities for Secondary

Whether you teach World History or US History to middle school or high school students, one of your biggest units in the year is likely to be World War 2.  The scope and impact of the war was so massive that you need at least a few weeks to cover everything. That means you need to have a wide variety of high-quality, engaging lessons to use throughout the unit.

From the causes of WW2, to the people, main events and battles, the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the lasting impact of WW2 into the Cold War - it's a LOT to cover.

Here are some of my favorite lesson plans and activities to use with secondary students for teaching World War II:

1) Rise of Dictators Pop Up Notes

One of the first things students need to understand is the rise of dictatorships and fascism in the years before World War II. Hitler in Germany, Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and militarists in Japan all took power during the 1930s.

To teach students...

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Five Ways to Teach About Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson is one of the most important figures in US history. In fact he's the only person to have an era named for him: The Age of Jackson.

As a result, you want to make sure you cover the essential understandings students are going to need to know about the Andrew Jackson presidency based on your state standards, but also make your lessons engaging and hands on so students really connect with the material.

I spend about 2-3 weeks on the Age of Jackson in my American History classes. We look at the rise of the Common Man, Spoils System, the Indian Removal Act, Nullification Crisis, Jackson's war on the National Bank, and other important events of the period.

Here are five awesome activities that you might want to use to teach about Andrew Jackson:

1) Jackson & Adams Campaign Songs

Jackson and John Quincy Adams had two contentious presidential elections in 1824 and 1828.  In the 1828 election, each had a theme song that they used her campaign events. These campaign...

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Fake News Lesson Plan

One of the most important things kids need to learn now in social studies is about Fake News”. Obviously, you hear about Fake News all the time. It dominates social media and the news outlets.

Kids need to be able to recognize what is fake news, what is real news, and how can you tell the difference. This is a 21st century skill that every kid needs to learn in high school. It's so important for our society to teach these kinds of skills so that kids can graduate with the ability to be informed citizens.

I teach this lesson about fake news in both my US history and my American government classes.

I love this lesson because it connects students to fake news in history from the Yellow Journalism era of the late 1800’s early 1900s’ in American history and also the fake news of today.

The Lesson Plan

I start the lesson off with a warm-up cartoon from the yellow journalism era and ask students to interpret it. Then we look at for glaring examples of fake news from...

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Great Classroom Management Tips for High School

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Hey there! My friend Lindsay is a former high school math teacher and went through the same struggles early on in her career that I did - no textbook, terrible resources, and no little help to figure things out. 

Thankfully for the both of us, we figured things out and found success by creating our own resources and then sharing them with others. She's now got an awesome blog where she shares awesome teaching tips. Some are math focused, but many others apply to any subject and I LOVED this post on Classroom Management Tips and wanted to share it with you. 

Everything in this post resonated with me and brought me back to those early days of teaching where I'd be up late into the night trying to plan a lesson that would keep kids busy the whole period because I hadn't yet learned those important strategies to make my classroom engaging, filled with learning, and with a natural fow built on respect.

If you're just starting out or want some important ideas to review...

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Cooperative Learning Resources from Oodles of Teaching Fun

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Hey all - hope your summer is in full force and you're enjoying the sun and naps that make summer amazing! 

Over the next few weeks, I want to share some resources from friends of mine that I think might be beneficial for some of you that are not strictly social studies teachers. As the end of the summer approaches (sorry to bring that awful reminder to you), you likely will start thinking about resources and lessons for your classroom.

Meagan England is an Accountability Instructional Supervisor and previously served as an Instructional Coach,  K-8 Reading Interventionist and a 5th and 6th grade ELA teacher in Tennessee. She's got a great blog called Oodles of Teaching Fun that you might want to check out! 

She's got some great free cooperative learning activities for both reading and math here. You might also want to check out the printable activities she's got on her blog and free resources for writing, technology, and reading.

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