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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I had a shop teacher in high school who would say, "You need some experience with a hammer and nail before I'll let you use the air nailer."  I didn't like that philosophy so much I was in shop class because I REALLY wanted to use that air nailer, but as I've gotten older I appreciate what he was implying.  At least for me, if I've done something manually, I usually have a better appreciation and respect for what the technology I'm using is making up for.  Before I simply push the buttons for 8 x 3 on a calculator I'm glad that I know why 8 x 3 equals 24 - not just because the screen says so.  (Yes, I looked back before typing more to make sure I had 24 as my answer...twice). 

Sometimes I wonder if we're taking things too fast before we've solidified the foundation.  The thing is, I'm not critical of technology at all.  I'm a HUGE techie, but I also grew up before a lot of the technology we use today was available so I have a different frame of reference.  Not that the way things used to be was better (let's take dial-up internet connections for instance), but the frame of reference is there.   
So, in your opinion, what are some aspects of education that you'd like students to know how to do "the old way" so they have a better foundation of knowledge so when they use the technology that is available today they understand what it is replacing?

P.S. - I own several air nailers now and think of that teacher every time I use them. 
So, in your opinion, what are some aspects of education that you'd like students to have a better foundation of knowledge in?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How Teaching Was 15 Years Ago

So I have a student teacher this quarter and we spend quite a bit of time talking about the profession and what it takes to be a teacher today.  In our conversations I started thinking about what really has changed in my career from 15 years ago.   Here is a list of 15 changes from my first year 15 years ago:

1. Not one single student had a cell phone.  Neither did the teachers.
2. We shared a computer in our area that was on a cart.
3. We had to "reserve" the T.V. on a cart that had the VHS player
4. We didn't have a DVD player, but we did have laser discs (picture a DVD 10 times the size)
5. Grades weren't online - kids actually checked in with their teacher regarding their progress
6. We had grade level secretaries
7. Our school had one computer lab
8. No one ever said the words "common" and "core" next to each other
9. Over half of the parents came to conferences, now it's a quarter
10. YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter didn't exist
11. The number one drug moving through schools was marijuana - now it's heroin
12. To borrow a school computer for the weekend meant monitor, hard drive, keyboard, and mouse
13. The schools first digital camera to a 3-1/2" hard disk to save pictures
14. We didn't have security badge activated locks on any doors or security badges
15. We were allowed to use chalk.  Yes, you are reading this correctly.  No chalk.





But I am still surviving social studies.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stock Market Activity

If you are looking for a fun way to teach students about the stock market have I got an activity for you! 

Stock Market Activity
I have used this in the past as a way for students to understand the power of purchasing stocks and the fluctuations in the stock market.  This activity has got even my most reluctant learners to participate because everyone wants to win. 

The students are given $50,000 to invest in 10 different companies and use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that has all of the calculations they need embedded in the spreadsheet.  The students are directed to the NASDAQ web site and away they go. 

You can set this up as a contest whenever you want.  I'm going to start this half-way through the 3rd quarter this year and have the competition run until the last week of school.  You'll have students that put the NASDAQ app on their phones and will get stock updates that they'll tell you about. 

I've found it helps students understand how much money can be made and lost as well as the impact of the global market. 


Monday, February 3, 2014

Welcome to the brand new blog of Surviving Social Studies!


Welcome to my blog!  I am in my 15th year teaching middle school Social Studies and have taught grades 7 and 8.  I've been a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers for a few years now and decided to add a blog that will link back to my store.  In my 15 years teaching I've taught courses in U.S. History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology and have lesson material available in my store that will hopefully be of use to you.

When I'm not teaching I spend my time with my wife and two daughters as well as run an online woodworking business on Etsy called Along the Ridge.  You can check out what I create on that site at or at

Needless to say I stay quite busy.  I hope that you subscribe to my blog and that you'll check back in once in a while.  I'd be happy to follow your blog as well. 

Until later!