Friday, May 11, 2018

Teaching about Civic Literacy and Engagement

I just finished a Civic Literacy and Engagement Workbook for my Life Skills students. Civics is not offered at my high school so it is incumbent upon our U.S. History teachers to infuse the topic into their history lessons. This is a huge challenge considering the difficulty involved in covering the content we are expected to cover in U.S. History, especially in any depth.

I've been a strong advocate of civic literacy my entire teaching career. I make it a priority. I infuse these topics into all my courses, any chance I get. This year I've expanded my "Civic Literacy and Engagement" unit in my Life Skills class to a month-long unit from a two-week long unit. I spend 2-3 days covering the basics (which is essentially review because most of my Life Skills students have taken U.S. History with me where I cover this material more extensively). We review the structure and framework of local, state, and federal government as well as key terms. The following week, we work in our Civic Literacy and Engagement Workbooks focusing on topics covering what it means to be a "good" citizen" and the various ways in which citizens can become engaged in the civic process. I've included 48 task cards in my workbook as well. We try to complete one lesson a period and conclude the period with 5-10 minutes completing "tasks" included on the task cards. Some days we start the period working on the task cards and finish the period wrapping up a previous lesson.

Each lesson is centered around a program or program segment from NPR. My students are becoming more adept at "close listening" as I've also made this a priority over the course of the year. I use podcasts and NPR quite often in my courses. Many of the task cards include activities and games from the amazingly awesome site, icivics. Most of my students LOVE the games on this website, especially "Argument Wars" which I also use in my Civil Rights History course following my lesson on the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.

Some other activities I include in my unit: a mock voter registration, a mock election, a mock trial, "What would you do? scenarios, a gallery walk, a bulletin board project, etc.

I'd love to hear from other teachers, especially those who teach in schools without a formal Civics course offering. How do you infuse civic education into the curriculum?

If you are interested in my Civic Literacy and Engagement Workbook (which includes 48 task cards) please click the link below. Please follow me on TpT for resource updates and freebies!

Happy Teaching!

Civic Literacy and Engagement Workbook (Includes 48 Task Cards!)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Historical Thinking Video Bell-ringers

This resource started out as an extra credit project I was working on for a student in my U.S. History class. The next thing I knew, I'd created ten cards (four questions on each card). I decided, rather than use the cards as an extra credit assignment, I was going to incorporate them into my History class later in the week.

Each card focuses on a topic from the 30s or 40s. I thought it would work best if I broke my class into groups of four and gave each group a card. Together, each group will watch their assigned video and answer the four historical thinking questions pertaining to the video. 

I laminated each page so my students can write their responses on the cards. When they finish, I will wipe the cards off and use them with my next class. 

Some of the topics covered in this set are: the Dust Bowl, Dorothea Lange and Migrant Mother, the CCC, Holocaust Survivors, Pearl Harbor, Japanese Internment, Hiroshima.

*Update... I used the cards with my 7th period class (my most challenging group). I used the cards as a "bell-ringer" activity at the begining of class. I had to provide very little direction. The cards are pretty self-explanatory. The activity went very well! My students got right to work. Their responses were thoughtful and thorough! I was impressed. Definitely using these with my other sections!

Historical Thinking Video Bell-ringers

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Using Eve Bunting's "The Terrible Things" in a High School History Class

I've been using Eve Bunting's The Terrible Things" in my high school history classes for years. I have my students read a choral reading version of the powerful children's book (an allegory of the Holocaust) and participate in small and large group discussions following the reading. In my opinion, it's one of the more memorable lessons and activities of the school year. To help facilitate discussion, this year I created task cards to hand out to students working in small groups. Each task card has a question relating to the allegory. The task cards work much better than how I facilitated discussion in the past - usually by me shouting out questions to the class one at a time. The problem with that method was some groups were ready to move on and others weren't finished discussing the last question.

Teacher tip: I laminate my cards so I can reuse them year after year.

I am offering my task cards for free in my Tpt store if you would like a set for your classroom. Please follow my store while you're there. Followers receive updates on new products, discounts, and freebies!

Click below! Once in my store, select "free" to find "The Terrible Things" task cards!
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