Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Setting the stage for teaching new social studies standards


Massachusetts' educators will begin teaching new social studies standards in the year ahead. Colleagues and I have reviewed the standards and figured out ways to set the stage for these new standards at the start of the year with a focus on the main points of fifth grade. Our efforts will include the following activities:
  • Past, Present, Future Personal Timelines
  • Reviewing the United States Constitution and creating class constitutions.
  • Looking at context and meaning with the famous phrase, "All men are created equal."
  • A read aloud that takes place where we live and tells about the King Philip's War
These activities will help to connect students to the social studies standards by connecting these standards to their own lives and present time.

Today I focused in on the Past, Present, Future Timeline Project. The focus of this project is to engage students in creating timelines and thinking about time periods in their own lives. Also we'll use these timelines to engage in an initial conversation about how the past impacts the present and future. We'll hang these timelines up and reference them throughout the year as we study the time periods and significant events of early American history included in the standards for fifth grade. 

As I worked on the project today, I found the activity to be a good one--I could feel my brain at work as I chose a number of significant events from the past, the present, and what I hope to be the future. I used a similar timeline strategy that our tech teacher used last year which is outlined in the video below:

I used a combination of collected images and images from a Google search to complete the timeline. It took me a good two hours to complete this first draft so I expect it will take students about 4-6 hours to complete their copies. Fortunately the tech teacher has agreed to collaborate with us and work on the project in tech class. We'll support the efforts in the classroom too with this timeline prep and giving students time to work on their projects here and there during classroom time.  

This is a worthy start-of-school project for many reasons. First, the project provides students with the chance to tell their story and discuss who they are and what they've experienced with each other. Also, the projects prompts students to think about what's important in their past, present, and future. Further the project, as noted before, sets the stage for one of the main themes in the new Massachusetts social studies' standards which is that the past impacts the present.

I'm sure I'll update my project exemplar and the project prep in the days to come on my own and with colleagues. Also if you have any suggestions, please share. Thank you!