Okay, I will come back around to a point. I read and researched blogs for a while before jumping in. I am very much a detail-oriented person, but I like a big picture first. As a teacher, one of my greatest areas of frustration was teaching Social Studies. I love History and my favorite genre of Literature is Historical Fiction. However, I struggled to teach History in a way that was meaningful. I incorporated a lot of Historical Fiction and texts into English.
Often, I think Science and Social Studies do get left out or taught mainly as whole-group lessons once to three times a week depending on your schedule. From what I can tell, the Common Core Standards focus on Math and English with reference to Literacy in Science, Social Studies, and Technical Subjects. After that, are most of you following state standards for Science and Social Studies? Here in Texas, we have the TEKS and the Texas standards are extremely detailed for every possible subject under the sun. I think there are so many great resources right now to differentiate English (like Daily 5 and Guided Reading) and Math (like Clutter Free Classroom’s Management Board that looks amazing).Fifth Grade usually is U.S. History, and I struggled to find great resources and fun activities for teaching U.S. History. I found most of my students lacked a thorough understanding of geography and natural resources. You have to understand geography and natural resources fairly well to understand how various explorers/settlers responded to a new terrain. I guess I’m just curious how others teach Science and Social Studies in authentic ways. To respond to literacy in these subjects, note-taking and graphic organizers are great. I really wanted to teach History with a project-based learning approach; I just felt sometimes I lacked the time to do it properly.
You could have students each take an aspect of a period and research it and then present on the topics. When I tried this though, it didn’t work as well as it looks in the professional development videos. My students usually didn’t remember anything from other people’s presentations even if they took notes. Some of this comes back around to they need better speaking skills. Honestly, I have learned more history probably through Historical Fiction than anything else. I found this to be a very successful method with my students as well. It helped them better understand the challenges people faced in different periods and circumstances. The History feels more alive. United Streaming has some great videos. Scholastic has some great e-books, especially during the dollar days.
I am curious how others are approaching Science and Social Studies with the Common Core and what types of resources they are looking for. Are you looking for note-taking skills resources, graphic organizers, Historical fiction suggestions, nonfiction suggestions, lesson ideas, project ideas, informational text handouts you could just copy and hand out, etc.?
I decided to start blogging and creating TpT products because I wanted to create meaningful Social Studies resources for the Elementary level. That’s another challenge: you start looking for books or resources and they are too mature for a 10 year old.One of the things I wanted and never really found a good source for other than Edhelper was short informational text passages on various topics to hand out to the kids. Sometimes when you only have Social Studies a couple times a week you don’t have enough time to get through a 5-8 page lesson in a text-book and discuss/answer questions/do an activity. I wanted something shorter we could read, discuss, and then do a fun activity with. Maybe, what I am trying to say is I felt at the Elementary level sometimes the information needed to be broken into smaller chunks. There are great resources out there to do fun activities and projects. My question was always, how do they do the project when I can’t find the right videos or text to present all the information? In all my spare time as a teacher (spare time, huh, what’s that?), I didn’t get all these wonderful handouts created though. Would you be interested in having informational text passages on specific topics with questions/activities/vocabulary to go with them? What topics do you struggle the most to teach?
Actually, one great resource is the whole series on “You Wouldn’t Want to Be…” They are funny, and usually somewhat gross. The kids remember lots of details. It focuses on all the worst parts of a period of History, which inadvertently teaches kids about the challenges of the period. I might actually start with making activities to go with the books in these series as a good starting point. There are some great graphic novels, too, on Biographies and wars if you can find them at the library.