Social Studies became my biggest challenge! Social Studies kept me up at night! Social Studies was my tempest in a teapot! I tried teaching map skills but even my aide moaned! We did a study of New York State which was beneficial but was not part of the regular curriculum. So during the holidays, we tried "Christmas Around the World." My idea was at least they will learn about different countries! We made paper suitcases. I gave each student a passport with their picture in it. I had different stamps for each country. Sounds like fun, right? It was, but phenomenal and memorable it was not! My kids still couldn't differentiate between a continent, country, state, city...town! We did activities to rectify this but it only helped short term.
So, I went back to the beginning. I triple checked the NY standards for their grades (6th and 7th). I decided to find a way for them to learn American History. Sixth graders were suppose to learn Global History but how can they learn Global History when they can't even tell me that Albany is the capital of New York State! I decided to teach American History and tie Global History inasmuch as possible.
It was mid-school year when we got started. I taught my students how to write two column, guided notes. We began by studying explorers which definitely included Global History. We made a growing timeline along the wall. Each student did a report on an a assigned reporter. They loved going to the library to do their research. They felt important because just like their peers they had a research project.
There are two best parts to my story, the first one is coming now. Both best parts are important because it is me that learned the lesson! When we got to the colonies, I decided that we shall make a model of Jamestown with popsicle sticks. The clouds that had hung over my social studies class all year floated away and the sun appeared! My kids loved building Jamestown! They used milk cartons from lunch covered in pretzel sticks for buildings. They used Quaker round oatmeal boxes to build the bulwarks. They even landscaped their structure. Best of all because of their intense hands-on learning, they could name the buildings and sections of the fort!
|Snowing at Jamestown by using microwaved Ivory soap from our science experiment!|