So many engaging activities for a blended social studies classroom. So, so many.
We’re getting close.
For many of us, the end of the school year is just a few weeks away. It hasn’t been easy. But perhaps you can see the end of the tunnel approaching.
So couple of things. First thing, hang in there. You need to continue finding ways to engage your kids through to the end.
Second? Making it to the end this spring doesn’t necessarily mean this Continuous Learning Plan / virtual learning / distance learning / online learning / I never see my kids except in a Brandy Bunch looking Zoom call learning is over.
Maybe you’ve already heard this. If you haven’t, take a deep breath. Let it out. Sit down. Take another deep breath. Let it out. Okay . . . here it is:
School in the fall of 2020 isn’t going to look like school in the fall of 2019.
Chances are good that most of you will be back together somehow when we kick off the school year next fall. But chances are also good that some of that will be online, blended, staggered starts, late starts, students split into pods that attend on different days, relaxed attendance policies, a mix of both paper/pencil and tech tools, or longer school days that allow different grades to attend at different times.
Chances are good that it will be . . . well, different.
So what should we be learning about and doing this spring, this summer, and next fall to help our kids as best we can in situations that aren’t anything like what we’ve been in before?
The same sort of stuff we’ve been talking about at History Tech for a while now:
- authentic problems for kids to solve
- resources and tools to solve those problems
- encouraging choice, collaboration, and creation options
- providing a way for them to share their solutions
For Kansas social studies teachers, some of the best news is that our state standards seem designed specifically for a blended learning environment. With its focus on problem solving, effective instructional practices, historical thinking skills, use of evidence, and communicating solutions rather than rote memorization of basic knowledge, the document should be one of the first places you go.
(And if you’re not from Kansas, it’s okay. We’ll sneak you in. Head over here, then scroll down to the Table of Contents, click on Appendices, find your grade level, explore the sample compelling questions, and browse through the grade level competency lists. And be sure to poke around the Effective Classroom practices section.)
Need a few practical ideas?
Just like face to face learning, be willing to replace sit and get instruction in a virtual environment with something that looks more like this:
- Open your virtual or face to face session by asking kids to become 10 minute experts on a specific topic. Assign kids or groups a specific website to start at and then let them follow that link down the internet rabbit hole of research. Integrate their research into a conversation led by you. Example? Explain why FDR waited so long to help the British in 1940 after the fall of France.
- Ask kids to explore and click through an infographic or interactive graphic like ThingLink.
- Assign a TedEd or EdPuzzle video. Follow their responses live in the dashboards provided by the tools and respond to questions.
- Have kids respond to chunk and chew questions via the Zoom chat window.
- Conduct SAC group conversations via Zoom breakout rooms.
- Break kids into groups and play pictionary via the Zoom Whiteboard to reinforce foundational content knowledge. (Just want to play for fun without the content specific words? Try a pictionary word generator.)
Using Google Meet? Add these Chrome browser extensions that give you additional tools and flexibility:
Spend some time stealing ideas from these places:
- Journaling During a Pandemic
- Stanford History Education Group
- C3 Teachers
- iCivics Odyssey
- National Geographic
- Video games
- Wide Open School
One last option.
I’m hosting two virtual workshops, the first on May 20 and another on June 15, both focusing on the use of Google tools in a blended social studies classroom. They’re perfect for learning a few new ideas, building your personal PLN, and earning up to two graduate credits. Pick whichever best fits your schedule.
For more details, including pricing information, click the button that’s right for you!
We’re getting close. Finish strong.