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Making US History more.... relevent

Jess Henze

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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8-12 Social Studies cyber school teacher, Pennsylvania

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One more post and then I will be done...
One unit that I did during this thematic year was using the space program as a backdrop for the Cold War and relations between the U.S. and Russia(Soviet Union). Quite fitting for recent events and the end of the U.S. shuttle program. Used Google docs to have my students collaborate and work on their writing skills using the AREA writing model.

Author of historical fiction, for use in Social Studies and U.S. History.

Historical fiction in the classroom

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I am embarking on a new project, and I would love to get feedback from teachers of Social Studies and U.S. History. Have you used historical fiction in your classes? Did you use a book which each student purchased? Did the school system purchase a book for each student? Did you have a bookshelf with one copy of each of several choices of novels? I am interested in how you used historical fiction and how the students reacted. Thank you in advance!

English Professor in Northern Japan

Make Students the Teachers

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I agree with Judy here. In my 20th Century American History class, I've broken the class down into decades and I teach the highlights of 2 decades and then turn the 3rd week over to the students. Each student must select a topic relavent to that time period and do a presentation for the class on their topic. Judy's right that at first, the presentations are basic but as students get used to it, they get elaborate! In the latter weeks, I've had to cut my students off because they were taking too much time and posting too many items on the board! Loosen the reigns and let the students run with your curriculum and you'll be amazed at their ability. If you want to add a tech aspect, let the students pick which tech they want to use - they're probably better at it anyways. - Good luck!

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