How to Find Joy in your Teaching Career When Colleagues Make you Feel Like a Dying Star

I’m really lucky. I teach in a small rural school district, with great kids (students, but I always refer to them as my kids). They’re largely well behaved, inquisitive, and their parents are supportive. Most days, I get to go to work, try out new activities, and observe my students thinking and learning.  It’s not

10 Ways to Encourage Primary Source Analysis with Middle Schoolers

As Social Studies education has transformed in the past few years, I’ve found that I need to have my middle school students analyzing documents almost every day of the year. Simply having students read and answer questions becomes tedious and boring after a week of class. Therefore, I’ve developed quite a few strategies to “trick”

Socratic Seminars in the Middle School Social Studies Classroom

Setting Up a Socratic Seminar Middle school students are still learning the art of conversation, so when we as educators decide to have our class conduct a Socratic Seminar, 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

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

Rhiannon Giddens – Music and History

Whenever possible, I try to incorporate music into my history classes.  With my high school classes, I teach the full American History.  Therefore, it’s rather easy to find music to play for the 20th century. With earlier History, finding meaningful music to incorporate can be much more difficult.  Of course, the Hamilton musical, and it’s

8 Great Podcasts for Teachers of History

I absolutely love listening to podcasts in my spare time.  It’s an easy way to delve in to history topics I know little about, and it provides an alternative to reading.  I can listen to a podcast on my morning walk with the dog, or when I’m cleaning up a garden bed.  History podcasts often

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

Graphic Organizer and Rubric for Inquiry Based Essays

I’ve been working with inquiry based learning for the past few years.  As soon as it was introduced as a concept for teaching and learning, I immediately began to adapt my curriculum.  I love the way that it compels students to think about history and analyze history, and not just memorize specific events. My students

Standards Based Grading in Middle School

Edited to note that while this post was written for Social Studies, these practices can carry over easily to any other subject. Both the Math and the ELA teacher at my grade level have adopted very similar practices.  I’ve already written about my new grading practices for AP U.S. History.  I wanted to make sure