History Class Can Be Fun!

Here are ten ways to make your history class more engaging and more interactive!

Pop-Up Cards:   Have students create historical greeting cards.  Great for Valentine’s Day!   Pop – Up Cards

Mannequin Challenge:  Need some peace on a Friday afternoon?  Try a Mannequin Challenge. m The Mannequin Challenge – for the Classroom

Flipgrid Discussion:  Have students make a quick video to answer a prompt or give an opinion with this free tool.  ”Back to School with Flipgrid

Play – Doh Pictograms:  Great for a lesson on ancient civilizations.   Play-Doh is Power

Speed Networking:   Modern day networking with historical figures.   Speed Networking in the Classroom

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Nail Your Students’ Names on the First Day!

Heading back into the classroom after a nice, relaxing summer vacation can be daunting. Aside from decorating my classroom, writing new lesson plans, and sitting through boring faculty meetings, I used to be terrified that I would not be able to remember all of my students’ names! That was until a few years ago when I learned the magic of Mind Mapping.

Joshua Foer’s book “Moonwalking with Einstein” changed my entire mindset on remembering students’ names.  Foer shared that the way to remember almost anything is to develop your very own memory palace in your brain. All you have to do is partner images with words and retrieve them in your palace.

In order to remember students’ names better, try to do as Foer and Business Insider suggest- strengthen the connection between someone’s face and name by creating reminders for yourself. For example, “say you just met a Tom, for instance. The word “Tom” makes you think of “Tomcat.” Come to think of it, Tom does look a little cat-like, you think to yourself. The next time you see Tom, you’ll remember Tomcat” (and you’ll hopefully remember to just call him Tom).  Foer mentions using this technique in his TED talk when he points out that people are more likely to remember that someone they’ve just met is a baker than that their last name is Baker. ‘The entire art of remembering stuff better in everyday life,’ Foer says in the talk, ‘is figuring out ways to transform capital B Bakers into lower-case B bakers —to take information that is lacking in context, in significance, in meaning and transform it in some way so that it becomes meaningful in the light of all the other things that you have in your mind.”

If you need the 20 minute version check out his TED Talk here, and the full Business Insider tips for remembering names here.

Good luck to all the teachers heading back to work tomorrow! Now if only I could remember where I put my backpack…

The Mannequin Challenge – for the Classroom

I have been waiting all year to try out the Mannequin Challenge in my classroom! Finally I had the opportunity this week to get my students to “freeze in time” for this awesome task.

The Mannequin Challenge was a trend that spread across the internet asking people to freeze in a particular moment in time usually while a camera captures the moment. I chose to participate without the camera. Here’s how you can too.

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The Great Pumpkin Challenge

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One more day until October! The month of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Apple Picking and my favorite THE GREAT PUMPKIN CHALLENGE! My students know how much I love food challenges (see my posts on The Great Cookie Challenge!The GREAT “HOLIDAY” Baking Challenge! and I’ll share my Food Network Challenge with you in a couple of weeks). So OF COURSE I always do a GREAT PUMPKIN CHALLENGE!

The rules are simple:

I like to do this in groups of 2-3 students. Each group should Bring in a pumpkin OR a pumpkin dessert (that no one in the class will be allergic to – baked at home). So… a regular ole pumpkin to decorate, a pumpkin spice cupcake, pumpkin bar, pumpkin gingerbread cookie, pumpkin donut, pumplin pie whatever floats your boat. In class – studnents will be decorating it with a historical event from THIS SEMESTER. You can have it be holiday specific, (Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, Christmas, Chanukah) or a historical event. The class judges each creation and at the end of course they eat the pumpkin or pumpkin food. Let me know how your great pumpkin challenge goes!

Speed Networking in the Classroom

 

It can be daunting to try out a new teaching method, but TRUST ME, this one is A HUGE hit! I’m writing an extension to my post on History’s Great Mystery (How can I make my classroom more interactive?!) and Why I put the SOCIAL back into SOCIAL STUDIES! so you can try out this awesome technique in your classroom. This lesson can be modified for primary/middle school and high school.

I like doing this lesson for a number of reasons.
One –  This lesson give students practical, real world experience. The students are required to practice their interviewing skills on their peers as they bring a business card, a name tent and a resume with them of their historical figure (on the high school level). See below I modify this for the younger grades.  This gets my students thinking about creating their own resumes and business cards and career prospects.

Each resume and must include the following: Name, birth date, education, background, known associations (with a definition), notable accomplishments, and 3 references. Each resume must also have a “job sought” paragraph at the top. This must be between 3-6 sentences long and should include long term goals and other pertinent information. I have students bring a resume which should also include a picture. I require that these must be typed (you need two copies – one for you and one for me!) . You should have students work on this in groups if they are each assigned the same character. 

Two – I require each student to shake hands with the person as they move around the table. I give them a quick “this is how to do a proper handshake” and “smile nicely” when I hand out the instructions and again before the activity begins. This requires they practice their social skills.

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Mnemonic Device To remember the original Thirteen Colonies

my-new-neighbor-can-not-re-paint-my-dark-violet-no-shiny-grey-bungalow-colony-2Awesome Mnemonic Device to remember the original Thirteen Colonies! Its about that time in US history where teachers are reviewing the 13 colonies. Perfect timing for a Mnemonic Device to remember the original Thirteen Colonies! When they think of the word “colony” they can easily remember one sentence – My New Neighbor Can Not Re-Paint My Dark Violet No Shiny Grey! [Bungalow Colony]. Each 1st letter of the word stands for a colony –

  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia

Have you tried teaching with mnemonics? Ready for another one for the early presidents? Here you go!

Pottery Barn Lesson Plan for your Classroom

One of the nice things about working in a high school is the students can explore their interests without a commitment to a college major. In order to scaffold a lesson for my more creative students I created a history lesson where students can create their own houses from different time periods – a Pottery Barn Style lesson!

For Global History have students design a home from around the globe for the Phoenicians (ancient history), the Medieval Era, the Renaissance, and modern history. They should use different textures that were available and furniture, and even set the table with foods from the period. This can be done in PowerPoint or a diorama style model.

For US History – this is a lesson through the decades. Design a home for colonists, the 13 colonies, Jacksonian Era, Progressive Era, World War Eras, Great Depression, the Decades “50s – 00s”. They should use different textures that were available and furniture, and even set the table with foods from the period. This can be done in PowerPoint or a diorama style model.

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Wrap up the decades with RAP music in the classroom

I love the idea of using music (especially rap music) in the clasroom. It can seamlessly be integrated into Social Studies, English and language arts curriculum as a form of both poetry and drama. Allowing students to write and perform their own rap encourages them to think critically, to practice writing in the narrative form, to increase vocabulary, and to develop an understanding of rhyme and rhythm. This is the modern day poetry of our nation and students should be able to analyze the material and have an open conversation about many of the themes running through the songs. Here are some song ideas for teaching the 90s into 2001 using music in your classroom.

1) 90s Rap –
Tupac Shakur’s “Changes”, Notorious Big – Hypnotize

Students can analyze the songs and have a discussion about the changes Tupac raps about. Has much changed from then until now? How has rap music evolved?

2) Conformity of the Boy Band Era –
Nsync, Bye Bye Bye,  Boyz II Men – End of the Road, Backstreet Boys – I want it that way

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3) Girl Power – Madonna, Material Girl (to discuss the greed of the decade) TLC, Waterfalls, Spice Girls, Wannabe, Britney Spears, Hit me baby, Christina Aguilera, Genie in a bottle, Destinys Child – Bills, Bills, Bills

Students will analyze the songs, determine the messages delivered and choose one to write an informational essay on the power of boy band conformity vs girl power and sexuality.

4) The Counterculture of 2000 – Eminem – Lose Yourself, Green Day-basketcase
Students will analyze the informational/explanatory writing assignment and determine the messages delivered and discuss how these bands rejected the conformity of the previous boy band discussion

5) 9/11  – Where is the love? Black Eyed Peas Students will analyze the song, determine the messages delivered and discuss what happened during 9/11

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