Social Studies & Science: Building Excitement – Engaging Students
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that I do my best to ensure that my students are excited about learning. I want their experiences in the classroom to be dynamic, challenging, active and organic.
This week I have been thinking a lot about Social Studies & Science and what I do to try to ensure that my students are actively engaged in the learning process. I hope that after posting this others will also their ideas and experiences we the rest of us.
An Approach to Social Studies & Science: Building Excitement – Engaging Students
1. Begin by showing (e.g. visual displays) and talking to students about what they will know “at the end of the unit of study”. Give students time to process the information.
2. Start with a few short readings on the subject matter: picture books (fiction & nonfiction), magazines, websites (on SmartBoard), video clips, etc.
3. “Speed Dating with Books” – Place one book on each desk. Students are given a few minutes with each book. On your signal they switch to the next desk & book. Be certain to provide some follow-up discussion time.
4. Complete KWHL chart. I never do this until after we have discussed the subject matter, read books, watched videos etc. I find that they respond better when they have “an anchor” – a base from which to operate. Discover the following: What are they interested in? What are they passionate about? What do they want to learn about? Strike a balance between the program that you are required to deliver and their interests.
5. Find live, local experts: Canvas your class, your school, your friends and neighbours. Invite local experts/speakers into the classroom to share their knowledge & experiences.
6. Find in house experts. What are other teachers in “your world” (e.g. school, PLN, find LiveBinders, etc.) doing to make Social Studies engaging? Ask!
8. Engage in collaborative projects.
9. Incorporate drama: Have students role-play. Write & act out skits based on the subject matter. Come to school dressed as characters or a people: play and perform. Schedule “special days”: e.g. “Ancient Egypt Day”: Students come in costume, bring traditional foods & rotate through centres. e.g. Set up a legislative debate in the classroom (http://www.assembly.ab.ca/visitor/teachers/Mock.htm).
10. Incorporate all subject areas: e.g. Math, Art, Drama, Gym, etc.
11. Take students on field trips – explore the world outside the four walls of the classroom.
12. Go on virtual field trips – e.g. http://www.theteachersguide.com/virtualtours.html – Google Treks – http://t.co/YkhIRvQ
13. Conduct classroom experiments – students always love a hands-on approach (e.g. http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/)
14. Skype with other schools, countries, experts …
15. Create virtual timelines: e.g. Timetoast http://t.co/FtAmjIu
16. Explore Museum Box http://t.co/sO1N75P
17. Play games & watch videos on the Smartboard (e.g. BrainPop & StudyJam)
18. Be enthusiastic! Allow your excitement to be infectious! Get into it! Inspire & ignite!