Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Role-Playing in Social Studies (Introducing "The Most Dangerous Man in America")

Yesterday I planned a role-playing activity for my Social Studies 400 students. We've been studying the First Amendment- Freedom of Press the past week and a half. I'm planning to show "The Most Dangerous Man in America" and although I've lectured on the topic of the Pentagon Papers and New York Times v. United States, I still felt it would be beneficial to review the "cast" of individuals involved in the story as well as their relationship to the story. I found a fun role-play activity on the Zinn Education Project Page. Despite having a small class yesterday (four kids absent), the activity was a success. Each student played the part of a key figure involved in the story. Each student was given mini-biographies, a photo of the person they were role-playing, a name tag, and a role-play worksheet. In the activity, students pretend they are at a reception. Students circulate around the room and visit with each of the "characters" trying to learn as much as possible about each individual in the time available. Students answer questions about each individual as they circulate among the "cast of characters" in the role-play. The kids enjoyed and learned from the activity. Description of the activity and printable biographies and worksheets can be found on the Zinn Education Project website. Search "Most Dangerous Man in America."


Monday, January 30, 2017

Black History Month (Martin Luther King Quote Analysis Task Cards)

A couple weeks ago, I created some task cards to use with my Civil Rights History students for Martin Luther King Day. Unfortunately we had a snow day that day (and another one two days later!) Since it was the end of the semester (and mid-terms) I was unable to use the cards with my entire class. I did use them as "extra credit" for a handful of kids who had missed assignments and needed to make up the points. I ended up laminating the sheets of task cards and assigned one sheet per student. I had my students write their answers (using dry-erase markers) on the back of the laminated sheets. It worked great! Since I laminated the sheets, I can use them again with my Social Studies students next month.

Click here for my MLK Quote Analysis Task Cards:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

March: Book One & Two (Critical Thinking Questions, Comprehension Questions, Task Cards and Activity)

As an Alt-Ed teacher I am constantly looking for new ways to entice my "reluctant readers" to read. One genre many of my students enjoy are graphic novels. I was first introduced to graphic novels as a college student. A history professor introduced me to Art Spiegelman's Maus. This book was one of the most powerful books I had read on the Holocaust. After reading Maus I remember thinking, "if I ever teach history, I am definitely including this book in my history curriculum." I kept that promise and have been using Maus ever since.

A couple years ago I introduced another graphic novel into my history curriculum; March: Book One. The book was so successful with my students, I've expanded my classroom collection to include books two and three as well.

This weekend I updated my original lessons for Books One and Two. I also added a new activity based on a tried-and-true activity I have been using as a final assessment with my history students the past ten years- a "Positive-Negative Timeline."

"If you're not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you're consistent, you will succeed." - John Lewis

March: Books 1 and 2 Lessons:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Martin Luther King Quote Analysis Activity (Task Cards)

My Civil Rights History class is winding down (less than two weeks left) and there is still so much to cover! Like most history teachers, I feel there is NEVER enough time to cover everything that needs to get covered.

We just finished watching Selma so I planned a couple activities dealing with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and recent attempts to dismantle certain provisions of this law. I found a couple incredible infographics I use with my students to help illustrate the history behind the Voting Rights Act and where we are today with regard to voting rights. I developed a lesson plan around these infographics. In addition, I have a mock voter registration activity planned for later this week.

In addition, we are working on our "Civil Rights Road Trip" projects and I still need to allow time for my kids to work on their final project, a "Positive-Negative Timeline of Tolerance and Intolerance."

Still, I wanted to do something special for MLK Day next Monday. After thinking about a meaningful activity I could infuse into my prepared lesson, I decided to make some MLK quote analysis task Cards. Most of my students enjoy task cards. I put a lot of thought and time into developing cards with interesting and meaningful questions/tasks which most of my students seem to appreciate. In addition, many of the questions and tasks require kids to get out of their seats and talk to one another. Most kids like that as well.

I use task cards in many different ways. My favorite way to use them is to laminate the cards and give each student one sheet (which contains four different task cards). I let my kids choose two or three questions/tasks from each card to answer/complete. I often give my kids post-its to write their responses on or dry-erase markers so they can write their answers on the back of the task cards. (Even high school kids LOVE writing on colorful post-its and they LOVE using dry-erase markers!)

I created 28 different task cards. Check them out here:

Download my Positive-Negative Timeline Project (for FREE!) here:

I wrote a description of the project for Teaching Tolerance Magazine. Read my about the project here: