6 Degrees of Separation Game for History

History is a tapestry of interconnected events, people, and ideas. Helping students to make connections in your curriculum is a powerful way to deepen their understanding of history and to see its connection to the world today. 

An awesome way to promote this understanding is through a fun and interactive classroom game called "Six Degrees of Separation."

It's inspired by the old parlor game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" that you might have played in college. In that version, someone picks a random actor and you have to connect them through films and other actors who have appeared together until you reach Kevin Bacon. 

For example, if you were given the actress Zendaya:

Zendaya was in Dune with Josh Brolin. He was in was in Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon.

It's fun to allow students to try some out with actors they might know. A website called the Oracle of Bacon is helpful for finding examples. 

There's a couple different...

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5 Ways to Incorporate Current Events into Your Social Studies Classroom

Many teachers avoid bringing current events into the classroom and often for good reason. It's a politically fraught world these days and you don't want to be considered biased or bring up trouble. Some parents are ready to pounce on you for anything.

It's understandable to want to stick to your standards. However, current events are a great way to connect your curriculum to the real world and work on social studies skills.

Incorporating current events into your social studies lessons can also be a great way to engage students and help them see the relevance of the subject to their own lives.

There's many great resources available to you from CNN10 to the Donut that are made specifically for classrooms. 

So, I encourage you to try - when relevant - to bring some current events into your lessons. 

Here are five simple tips for using effectively covering current events in your classroom:

1) Choose current events that are age-appropriate and align with your...

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5 Top Trends for Teaching Social Studies in 2023

It's the year 2023, and teaching social studies is more of a challenge than ever before. If you have been in the classroom the past few years, you know just how rough it has been. Between the students, administrators, parents, and the community, social studies teachers are feeling pressure from all directions. 

There are, however, a few exciting trends, techniques, and resources that can help social studies teachers provide our students with the most engaging and effective lessons possible.

One trend that has worked for many teachers is to go back to paper-pencil interactive notebooks. Students have been overwhelmed with technology the past few years. Many of them are burned out on Google Classroom, digital activities, webquests, Kahoot, etc.

I know many of your admin require digital activities but there are easy ways to balance the digital and "analog".

For example, I will have students read an online article and complete an interactive notebook graphic organizer...

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Students of History Subscription Preview


Are you curious about what's included with a Student of History subscription?

Well, let's take a look!

Here's a sneak peek of what your subscription will look like after you login. First, you'll be brought to your dashboard where you'll see the curriculum that you have. It could be Civics, World, or US History.  

After clicking on your curriculum, you’ll see all the units that are included. You get immediate access to all of them immediately after signing up. So, no matter where in the curriculum your course begins, you can get started right away. 

From there, just click on any unit you want to start with and you’ll see it is broken down by day. Most units are between 7-10 days long. That is based on longer block-scheduled classes. So, if you teach daily 45-minute classes, you might need to break up each day’s lesson over two periods.

The lessons are designed to be easy to understand quickly, so you don’t need to slog through a bunch of pages...

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Refreshed Digital Notebook Activities for Social Studies


With the move to Hybrid and Distance Learning last year, digital learning activities became more important than ever.

Thankfully, I had been using digital notebooks in my classes for a few years. It started with occasional trips to the computer lab. I designed the digital pages I created to look like traditional notebooks - vertically aligned and in the style of the "cut-and-paste" activities we were already doing.

These worked great and students enjoyed them. With the move to fully-digital, however, a few things started to pop up that inspired me to redesign the notebooks. This redesign turned into a complete overhaul of all my digital notebook sets this summer.

You can preview and download any of them through the links below, but here are the major updates and changes:

1. New Horizontal Format - Laptops and Chromebooks obviously have horizontal screens. While the Zoom feature on Google Slides was helpful on the old style notebooks, I wanted students to easily be able to...

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Make Your Test Review Fun With Review Clue

Reviewing with games is always more fun for students than review packets or worksheets. Games get kids excited and build upon their competitive instincts to make reviewing material more engaging and impactful.

Traditional classroom review games like Pictionary, Jeopardy, and Kahoot/Gimkit/Quizizz are great. Kids know how to play, love them, and they're easy to implement. My curricula has these review games already made for each unit. 

However, it's good to change things up every so often to keep kids excited and engaged. That's why every so often, we'll play my favorite review game - Review Clue! 

Clue has always been one of my all-time favorite movies ("Two corpses. Everything's fine."). Sadly no students have seen it, so my wealth of quotes is lost on them. BUT it's super easy to play in any subject! 

It's played similarly to the famous board game (which is apparently known as Cluedo is some parts of the word). 

No matter what your subject or unit is, you...

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Distance Learning and Virtual Teaching Tips

You may have begun the year fully virtual or just now switching to Distance Learning due to the rising cases of covid-19. Either way, many teachers are looking at ways to engage their students through online learning during this unprecedented time in education. 

I recently met with a diverse group of high school and middle school social studies teachers (on Zoom, of course) to talk about what's working and what's not as far as virtual learning. 

Included here is a list of our best advice to those of you who are teaching virtually. There's obviously various learning platforms and forms this can take (synchronous or asynchronous). However, these tips should be helpful no matter how your school is conducting things. 

1) Over explain everything!

No matter how simple or obvious you think a topic or assignment might be, explain it as simply as you can and then explain it again. 

Provide written instructions that students can see on screen while you explain things and...

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Tips for Teaching with Remote Learning

Many school districts are working now on how to best support teachers and students in remote learning. Whether it is because students need to remain at home until the coronavirus subdues or there is just a massive blizzard that shuts down school for a period, remote learning is something to prepare for. 

While I have not yet taught in a fully-remote learning structure, I began to use “blended learning” strategies a few years ago. Like it sounds, blended learning is a hybrid strategy that delivers some content online but also includes lessons in school to support student learning. 

It was in this blended learning environment that I began to create and use “flipped classroom” videos to teach the basic concepts of some units. I recorded video lectures and uploaded them to YouTube. Students received guided notes worksheets and were assigned a video for homework. These were all fairly short and easy for students to complete on any device. They also saved...

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5 Ways to Teach ALL of US History

There is no one way you need to be teaching US History. Every teacher has their own preferred way to run their classes. How you teach your classes is really up to you and what’s best for you and your students. 

You might prefer a very structured classroom with routines that students stick to the whole year. Or, you may prefer to mix things up and keep students on their toes with different activities for each unit. Either way can work very effectively! 

Over my years teaching US History, I developed a host of resources and teaching strategies that I found to be effective for different groups of kids. Here, I want to share 5 teaching strategies/resources you can use either as the backbone of your curriculum or to mix things up so that each unit has a new feel. 

Each method can be combined with inquiry lessons, primary resources, station activities, and Project Based Learning to ensure you’re preparing your students and providing critical thinking...

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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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