About 10 years ago, I had an administrator that became infatuated with learning styles. He mandated that we give all our students a "Learning Styles Inventory" survey and spend valuable team time compiling and analyzing all that data. Once it became obvious that a large chunk of our students were categorized as visual/kinesthetic learners he gave us our decade old textbook to teach the same lessons as always with. We can do better.
Although the over-emphasis on learning styles has faded a bit lately, it is still true that visual/kinesthetic activities help a lot of students learn. 10 years ago when my administrator didn't provide us with any resources to specifically reach my almost entire classroom of visual/kinesthetic learners, I made some.
My Age of Exploration Vocabulary Task Cards are by far the most effective way I've found to teach content area vocabulary in a cooperative learning, visual/kinesthetic style. In groups, students use the cards to match terms to definitions and pictures. Once they have made those connections, they work with their partners to categorize the words into like groups to make even more connections. The cards also work well with my FREE Vocabulary Games product.
Click the link below for my Age of Exploration Vocabulary Task Cards, and the link for an earlier blog post about how to use them. Also, check out my FREE vocabulary games product and the rest of my store for other great American History Products!
The school year is almost here! I know we're all excited to get back at it and start teaching kids again! But, maybe you've moved grades or subjects. Maybe you want to try something new. Or, maybe you just want to see another way to teach about Early Humans. If any of these are you, my Early Humans Complete Unit and Assessment is just what you're looking for!
This complete unit contains everything you need to deliver a three-week, Marzano aligned unit about the Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages. It includes a day-by-day unit plan, a sheet to explain the purpose and Marzano alignment of each day (perfect for evaluations!), and all or the parts you'll need of the following activities:
By now, everyone in education has probably heard of Dr. Marzano, and his books including, The Art and Science of Teaching. About 10 or 12 years ago, my old district provided a professional development about Marzano's ideas, and techniques, and I was hooked!
After the PD, I sat down and took a long and hard look at what I'd been doing, and how I'd been teaching. I realized that I needed to make some changes. For me, that process of self-evaluation and reflection is the essence of Marzano. It wasn't a specific strategy or technique in the book that transformed me from a teacher to a highly effective teacher, it was a shift in mindset and intentionality.
Thinking carefully about which strategy or technique would get the best results and resisting a tendency to just do the next chapter because its next, or activity X because we have done that activity forever had amazing and immediate results! Not only was I more prepared and my students learned better, but whenever evaluation time came around, I could very specifically explain to my administrator not only what I was doing, but why I was doing it. This resulted in much better teacher evaluations which also eventually led to more teacher leadership roles.
The Art and Science of Teaching is an incredible book, and I very highly recommend getting, reading and applying it. But, if you are looking for a "Cliff notes version of it" I will be sharing some Marzano aligned products, tips and ideas about how to embed some highly effective activities and strategies into your classroom instruction with you in the coming months.
Map skills are a very important (and easily testable on state assessments) skill that should be practiced in class very frequently. As middle school social studies teachers, we sometimes fall into the trap of focusing on the amount of content we need to cover at the expense of the skills we should be actively reviewing. We need to find a better way to practice map skills more often!
My American History Student Atlas does just that! It features 2-3 maps per American History topic from First Contact to the Civil War and an additional Basic Geography section (22 student maps total!) plus a teacher resource map for each topic to show how to accurately label each map.
Throughout the school year, your students will explore how physical features, economics, Native and colonizing cultures all played a role in the development of the United States. Each American history map also includes an extension question your students can use their completed map as a guide to completing.
Are the maps you use with your students old? Maybe boring? Are they out of date - out of some book or program your school bought years ago, but are no longer aligned with what you teach?
My answer to all of these questions was an emphatic, "YES!"
So, I created my World History Student Atlas. I have created both a political and physical map with easy instructions to label and color along with a Teacher Resource Map (answer key) for major topics in world history from Early Humans through the Renaissance.
Personally, I use them in conjunction with my interactive notes, vocabulary activities, reading response journals, and other reading activities as part of a social studies binder my students build and use throughout the year.
I'm a 14 year veteran teacher that loves teaching, coaching, writing, and my family.