Tips for Teachers
 
Fasttrack Civics


Tips for using your Fasttrack Civics binder
 If you are using the printed paperbound workbooks, skip to # 3


1.  Job One: Help students get organized as the school year begins! 

   Students are naturally excited as the year begins, so tap that enthusiasm and show them that staying organized will help them succeed in school and in life.  The practice they get keeping their Civics class materials neatly organized builds this vital skill every day. 

   Download and make copies of the supply list handout (click here for PDF file) to show students how to set up their binders with dividers and tabs.  The handout pages for each new unit of Fasttrack Civics will go in the New section.  As each unit is completed, it should be moved to the Old section.  Homework, project papers, and other assignments will go in the Other section.  Some lined notebook paper should go in the Paper section.

   Tell students that they can make their own dividers and tabs from construction paper, or buy ready-made dividers.

2.  Start each new section with the title page - on colored paper if possible!

   The title page of each unit has focus questions and a list of vocabulary words.  It should be the first page of each new unit, and will stand out if copied on pastel yellow paper.  Copy the remaining pages of the unit in whatever way seems best for your lessons.  
Hole punch the pages, and set them out for students to pick up assembly line style.

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3.  As you begin each unit, begin linking to what students already know.

   The title page of each unit has several focus questions you should read aloud as you introduce that section.  See if students can offer at least partial answers for some of them.  Then, ask students to check off any words in the vocabulary list they already know something about.  These are good ways to activate prior knowledge, and interest students in what lies ahead.

4.  Use the Internet support site to get students interested and involved as you engage each topic. 

   The Internet support site has links to interesting sites and resources.  Work these into your teaching and classroom activities.  Use a variety of methods, such as direct instruction, individual work, and group activities.

   Remind students to complete any maps by using the same colors as shown on the Internet site, and to shade land and water areas very lightly! 

5.  Use the great video resources available on DVD and on YouTube.

   Usually it is best to preview videos carefully and pick short segments, rather than show long videos or movies without breaks.  Decide on the main points you want to make, and pick segments that capture those points while holding students' interest. 
Start building your own collection of "greatest hits" classroom DVDs and YouTube videos - there are some suggested sources on this web site.  Use a notebook to keep a record of the clips and the starting and end points.

6.  Begin each class with a "warm-up" activity, and close with an "exit ticket" or a few questions.

   Have three to five review questions (fill in the blank or short answer) on the board or big screen that students can answer on paper quietly as they arrive in class.  This gives students a specific, every day routine that helps them get settled and focused, and it gives you time to take attendance.  Let them use their notebook binders to find the answers they don't know, and correct any answers as you go over the answers.  That way, every class starts with success, and with everyone tuned into the main points of the previous lesson.  Be sure to add a positive comment or two - "Great, it's good to see everyone today, and everyone is on board."

   It is also a good idea to end each class with either a written "exit ticket" or a few verbal questions, to reinforce key points before the stampede to the door.  Example: Q: "Anyone in these two rows: What are two kinds of democracy that first started in ancient Greek and Roman societies?"  A: "Direct democracy and indirect democracy, which is also called representative government!"  Teacher: "Great, on your way, and I'll see you all tomorrow!" 

7.  Don't forget to have fun!

   No one is going to get much out of a Civics class that drags through day after day without some excitement, suspense, and fun.  Tie in current events that shed light on the principles the class is studying.  Clip, copy, or save links to printed items or Internet pages that might build interest in particular units.  Make time to work in activities, videos, and stories that students will still be talking about when they get home.  










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   Copyright 2009, 2017 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.