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Monday, August 24, 2015

Not Everything Has Changed...

I am about to embark on my 17th year of teaching middle school.  We'll, the next five days are inservice first.  Yes, five.  I've got a few more wrinkles, a few (ahem) less hairs, but I've never been more experienced.  I was talking with a teacher friend who has the same amount of years who said, "I've never been better at my job while at the same time I've never been farther away from being 13."  We talked about how we are at a point in our careers where we are teaching kids who:

Weren't even born on September 11th, 2001
Who have always had the Internet
Who have never used a VCR
Who have never had to wait to hear their favorite song
Who have never pushed "Play" and "Record" at the same time
Who have never had a landline phone
Who have always had Netflix available...

...and the list can go on and on. 

However, we came to the conclusion that even though they are exposed to more, a 13 year old today still goes through the same emotions, social awkwardness, and self-discovery today as we did when we were 13.  Every generation will say, "kids aren't the same as when I was that age."  Nope, but the true core of being a kid at any age, is.  That's why being a teacher keeps you young at heart.  Even though we've maybe taught a specific grade level for years and years and might have lost some of the novelty of the "newness" of it all, it is good to remember that it is still brand new to our students.  

Have a great year!
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies

Monday, August 17, 2015

What Are We Even Saying??
Ever since I was young I remember thinking things like, “How did a couch end up being called a ‘couch’ and everyone just went with it?”  Well, some call it a sofa, but I digress.  My point is we all use these little sayings and expressions, but nobody ever seems to know why we say them or where they actually came from.  We just…say them. But what are we even saying?

I’ve recently started putting together a product including the way I’ve started class for well over the past 10 years.  I call it “The Phrase of the Day” and my students have always enjoyed these because they’re fun and also because I give them a mint if they correctly guess the phrase. 

I currently have 20 of the phrases that I use uploaded to my store in the product below.  I plan on adding 20 more at a time until I get to 180 (for 180 days of school).  They will all be bundled together at the end so keep an eye out for them! 

You are getting 140 slides in a PowerPoint and here’s one example from the 20 phrases included in this product:

I think you and your students will love starting class this way!  

See you next Monday!
Surviving Social Studies


Monday, August 3, 2015

Hello Everybody!

Last week I told you that if you teach U.S. History or any Social Studies for that matter you would be in for a surprise!  Well, the surprise is that TpT is having its annual Back to School Sale and my entire store is 28% off!  That means bundles, caricatures, cloze reading quizzes…EVERYTHING! 

Here are a few products I'm highlighting that I think you’d enjoy in your classrooms:

When I first started teaching 17 years ago I remember feeling overwhelmed because I didn’t have a supply of materials to fall back on, I didn’t know how long anything would take, and I was just trying to survive to the bell at the end of the day without any major mishaps.  This bundle gives you 15 different products I’ve used throughout my career that are tried and true and will give you a little breathing room during the day to focus on planning future lessons for yourself. 

This is one of those subjects that you can easily lecture on or show a short video, but why not have your students make a connection to what it was like for the colonists’ struggles to organize a new government?  This activity will give the basics of the Articles of Confederation as well as lead them through an activity comparing their relationship with their parents, which tricks them into realizing the relationship the new government has in regard to its citizens. 

Where’s the Buried Treasure?  30 Latitude & Longitude Treasure Hunts!:
I’ve found over the years that with the invention of GPS technology that the art of knowing how to find a location manually is a bit of a lost art.  These treasure hunts are great to begin class with.  Each student gets the same treasure hunt and an atlas and has to use the coordinates given to try and find which country is at each location.  When they are done, they’ll use the first letter of each country they found to spell out the name of the country where the treasure is buried.  

When I first started teaching U.S. History I taught the way I was taught – I lectured.  Then I realized after sitting through staff meeting after staff meeting that the excruciating pain I was feeling sitting there being talked at while I remained silent and motionless was the way my students were feeling - even with as interesting as I thought I was to them.  Therefore I dedicated my time to creating ways for students to be “doing” more instead of sitting passively.  

I teach middle school, which can definitely be a difficult time for both parents and their teens.  Most of the time the arguments they encounter are based off of each side not realizing that they’re on the same side, but just not understanding the other's point of view.  This activity has both teenager and parent assess their relationship through a series of statements. They score their assessments and then compare answers with each other - hopefully talking about why they were off on certain ones.  

Above all, TpT has a world of teachers offering their lessons and activities that have made their lives easier.  I hope you find something in my store during this sale that will help make your life easier this year while keeping more money in your pocket with the 28% in savings!