| Tips for
Frameworks for America's Past
Frameworks for America's Past:
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 history 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 history class binder with dividers and tabs. Each new unit packet will go in the New section, and the completed unit will be moved to the Old section. The States and Regions Map, the Twenty Cities Map, and the World Map (see the Appendix of your binder with the master pages) go in the Maps section. If students have projects to work on, they 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. Making the unit packets - hit the button for double-sided copying!
The page numbering is set up for the student unit packets to be photocopied double sided. That way the unit title page, outline, and most maps will be on the right hand side of open student binder pages. Use pastel yellow paper, if possible, for the title page and (on the back) the list of pages. That will help indicate the starting page of each unit, with its introduction and vocabulary list. The page list has a space where teachers, students, or parents can check off as each page / topic is completed.
Hole punch the pages for the first unit, and set them out for students to pick up assembly line style. Have them put the packet in the New section.
3. As you begin each unit, begin linking to what students already know.
The starting page of each unit has a short overview that should be read aloud in class, with students highlighting some key points. Then, ask students to check off any words in the vocabulary list they already know something about. It is a good way 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.
Each unit has collections of historical photo sets and other resources you can project on a large screen as you introduce each topic. Work these into your teaching and classroom activities. Use a variety of methods, such as direct instruction, individual work, and group activities.
There are links to short YouTube videos about topics in each unit. Pick some of them to show in class, and let students explore the rest on their own or in groups.
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.
A great resource for U.S. history classrooms is the History Channel DVD titled America: The Story of US. The two disc set is less than $20.00 on Amazon. It has many superb segments that bring the past to life and build student interest. Another great source of video clips specifically for the WW I and WW II units is The World Wars, also a DVD by the History Channel.
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. Start building your own collection of classroom video hits, with a notebook of good start 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 as soon as they arrive. 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: "Anyone in these two rows: Who was the key leader in Great Britain during World War II?" "Winston Churchill!" "Great, on your way, and I'll see you tomorrow!" Next two rows, "Who was the . . . . "
7. Don't forget to have fun!
No one is going to enjoy a history class that drags through day after day without some excitement, suspense, and fun. Work in some of the extras that shed light on human life as it was lived and is lived. Consider using the music selections from different periods, the history food features, and other interesting resources on this site. Clip, copy, or save links to printed items or Internet pages that might build interest in particular units. Bring in historical items - old railroad spikes, an old kerosene lantern, a Depression era home sewn quilt or apron, a WW II military jacket. Make time to work in activities, videos, music, and stories that students will still be talking about when they get home.
Copyright 2009, 2016 by David Burns. All rights reserved.