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.