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Friday, May 11, 2018

Democratic Classrooms: Meeting the New Social Studies Standards

Early in my career, I was dedicated to the concept of a democratic classroom--a classroom where all students and teachers had substantial voice. I've held onto that idea, but as the curriculum changed, I didn't focus as heavily on the principles of a democracy as we set up the classroom. Now the curriculum is changing again, and we're back to a deep focus on the organization of our United States government, the Constitution, and the related processes. How will this translate into the way we start the school year.

Classroom Government
At the start of the year, we'll introduce the structure of the United States government as we create our own classroom structure.

The Constitution
In a sense, our school handbook is our school's Constitution. We'll make connections between the United States Constitution (the law of the land) and our school handbook. We'll discuss why it's important to have a set of common rules and laws, and then discuss who we might help each other abide by that "constitution." We may even make a few amendments to better what and how we work together at school.

"All Men Are Created Equal"
We'll discuss this important phrase from the Declaration of Independence. We'll discuss the intent of the words, and how those words translate to a modern society today. We'll further talk about how these words can be translated into the way we work with one another and respect one another in school.

Think Like a Historian
We'll discuss what it's like to think with the lens of a historian. We'll consider how the past affects the present and future. I'll read up on this a bit over the summer to prepare for this perspective.

Past to Present Timelines
To exemplify the historian's perspective, students will create timelines of their lives that begin with their parents' births until their future. We'll think about how past facts related to place, education, movement, and interests have affected their lives today. Of course we'll do this in a way that fits the mindset and developmental stage of 10 and 11 year olds. We'll share timelines of notable people as well as American and perhaps World history too--those timelines will be visible in our shared teaching/learning area so students can reference them throughout the year as they learn more about the new standards, standards related to significant events in American history from the 17th century to the 19th century.

Current Events
We'll continue to discuss current events on a regular basis in a variety of ways.