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Making US History more.... relevent

Making US History more.... relevent

Related Tags: Social Studies
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I've been teaching Social Studies and US History for 4 years, and I can honestly say that I'd be bored out of my mind in my class. I don't like to teach this way, but I struggle. My love is science. This year, I will have my teammates helping me plan and implement lessons, however, I need to make it more interesting, relevant, and real-world. I would LOVE to do project based learning, but I'm clueless about where to begin. I love technology and using it with students, but my teammates are far from stellar students when it comes to computers. So, if anyone has any ideas, resources, lesson plans, etc that might lead me on a path of more excitement within my social studies units, I would greatly appreciate it! Jess Henze Sherman Middle School Madison, WI

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Ron Peck's picture
Ron Peck
H.S. Social Studies teacher from Medford, Oregon.


There are a lot of easy ways to engage your students with or without tech. I have used cooperative learning with my students. I'd be happy to assist you with getting started on that. Additionally, try integrating what your students are studying with other subjects.
There are also some great resources for flipping your classroom depending on your resources.
I recommend you check the resources listed below:

Please let me know if you have additional questions.
Feel free to check out our SSChat Ning ( or the wiki (


ShawnMcCusker's picture
High School Teacher, EdTechTeacher Instructor and Presenter,

Maybe if you'd like you could tell me one particular area where you want to energize a lesson or a unit. I could share what I have done or refer you to someone who excels in that area. Ron's references above are all excellent too. Sounds like what you really needs is to discuss what is possible.

Shawn McCusker (@ShawnMcCusker on Twitter)

Jason Kintner's picture
Jason Kintner
High School U.S. History and Civics Teacher, Prosser Washington

I have found that project based learning is very effective at engaging students and enabling them to make a connection with history. I also really enjoy enabling the students to collaborate and engage in creative endeavors. My students not only enjoy project based learning, but I have found that there is greater retention of the concepts as they dig deeper in the subject matter. However, each year I struggle with time management in balancing the unit content requirements with the need to conduct authentic engaging activities which take a considerable amount of time. I teach a one year U.S. history course and we cover Pre-Columbian America to the Present--quite a time span. While my units are organized along thematic lines, I really struggle to cover the many important concepts. I would appreciate any thoughts or comments regarding balancing depth with breadth.

Randall Fujimoto's picture
Randall Fujimoto
Game-Based Learning Designer

I've been researching educational gaming and how they can help make subject matter content relevant to today's students. It's a difficult proposition to take even well-made history-related videogames, such as Civilization, and make the learning both relevant and transferable outside of the game context.

However, I think that one game genre that may be able to make learning relevant and transferable is educational alternate reality games (see if you are not familiar with ARGs for a quick primer). In ARGs, students play as themselves (not as a fictitious game character), so the overall learning experience is more meaningful to them. Educational ARGs can be made for practically any subject matter, esp. social studies/history because of all the rich stories that make up the content.

I'm currently running a trial of a new social studies ARG about Japanese American history during World War II. I'm testing the game as research for a future course I'm designing.

If you or anyone (high school age and above) is interested in participating (no lurkers please), I welcome you to please visit the following page for details: or email me at I'll be taking new signups for the rest of this week. Thanks!


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