I Used to Have my Student Take Notes – I Don’t Anymore – My Class is Better as a Result

As a Social Studies teacher, I’m obsessed with having my students think critically about the topic of History. Still, it’s difficult to have students think critically without some background knowledge. Therefore, I’ve taken on the task of making sure that my students gain background knowledge with a variety of activities and tasks. It has been

Conducting a Structured Debate in Your Middle School Classroom

Setting Up a Structured Debate – Middle school students are still learning the art of conversation, so when we as educators decide to have our class debate, we need to offer some structure to make sure that the debate offers a positive learning experience.  I’ve had several debates over the years, some much better than

The Irish – A Lesson in Bias – Seeing Bias in Historical Cartoons

I teach a little bit of Irish history every year.  Even though it’s not really in the seventh grade curriculum anymore (except for the fact that the Irish helped build the Erie Canal), I still sneak in a day to discuss Irish immigration.  Many of my students have Irish heritage, so they are easily interested

Debating the Electoral College – A Structured Debate for Students

Let’s admit it.  This past election year has been really tough for teachers.  Although we want to talk about political issues, and we want to give our students the tools to sort through those issues, it’s very difficult to do so when the country is so fractured politically.  I’ve never seen my students so demoralized

Shays’ Rebellion – Inquiry Based Learning – C3 Framework

Social Studies education has undergone (and is still going through) a revolution in teaching practices.  The idea of teaching History through the authentic process of inquiry has completely revived my curriculum and my approach in the classroom.  I’ve found my students to be more involved and engaged, and simply more interested.  The inquiry process works particularly well

PBS Documentary “First Peoples” Free Lesson

This past June, PBS aired a documentary titled “First Peoples.”  Though it was the end of the year, I noticed that one of the sections of the video – The First Americans – dovetailed nicely with one of NYS teaching standards for Social Studies from the new Social Studies framework – specifically: 7.1a Geography and

“Hamilton the Musical” In the Classroom – Skills and Content – Common Core Aligned

Ever since Lin-Manuel Miranda released his first song from Hamilton the musical, I’ve been using his songs in my classroom to teach History.  With the release of the full soundtrack this past fall, I was instantly envisioning new ways to incorporate the songs from the musical within my class.  I love all of the songs, however,