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Sparking Student Interest and Growing Writing Skills ✨ ✏️

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This is the last leg before some much-needed breaks! It’s right around Veterans Day, a time when we pay tribute to the Veterans we are forever grateful for and also a reminder for us as teachers to be grateful for making it to this part of the school year. Personally, it hasn’t come without hitting the snooze button a few more times than most other months!

Anyway, let’s get to the things on the top of my mind…

Writing in the classroom…

History is not just about memorizing dates and events; it’s about understanding the human experience and unraveling the stories that shaped our world. By incorporating writing skills into my history lessons, I feel like I am empowering my students to become historians in their own right, capturing the essence of the past through the power of the written word.

But… how do I do this when my students came to me this year with less than enthusiasm for history and even less for writing? Seeing myself in my own students, I created a scaffolded way to teach historical writing.

Even though high school was a long time ago for me, I still remember my 11th grade history teacher. I remember her vibe and the look of her room, and I remember that it was in her class that I learned to write! Of course, my first thought was, “Wait, this isn’t English,” but all these years later, doing the same job that she did, writing in history is so valuable. The hard part is knowing where to start when your students don’t have the skills, like I didn’t at their age.

So, after retracing my steps and reflecting on the things that helped me learn how to write in history, I’ve shared it with my own history classes. Instead of just ending it there, I thought I should also share it with you! Check out the resource below that I just used with one of my classes that needed extra help with writing.

I saw my students writing skills DRAMATICALLY increase after focusing explicitly on their writing! (Less groans too when I say the word writing!) A win for me!!

Taking a “break”….

Next up… it’s time for a well-deserved break! Well, maybe not a break from school entirely, but rather a break from the current unit we are studying in my history and psychology classes. Sometimes, I find that giving my students a reset with a fun and engaging lesson is just what they need to reenergize and push through the rest of our unit. So, let me share with you a few examples of how I achieve this when I notice those glazed over eyes becoming too much to handle.

One of my favorite ways to bring some excitement into the classroom is through interactive activities. For example, in my history class, I might organize a mock debate where students take on the roles of historical figures and argue their perspectives on a significant event or issue. This not only encourages critical thinking and research skills but also allows students to step into the shoes of those who shaped our world. I also love Gallery Walks to get them up and moving! Below are some examples:

Gallery Walk: The Great Depression

Game: Bill of Rights review!

Abraham Lincoln Photo Booth

Webquest: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire- 2 day lesson

In my psychology class, I like to incorporate hands-on experiments or demonstrations that bring the concepts we are studying to life. Whether it’s a simulation of a famous psychological study or a group activity that explores different aspects of human behavior, these interactive experiences not only make the subject matter more relatable but also create a memorable learning experience for my students.

Another approach I take is to incorporate technology and multimedia into my lessons. I find that using videos, interactive websites, or virtual reality experiences can capture my students’ attention and make the content more engaging. For instance, in my history class, I might show a documentary or use an interactive timeline to explore a specific era or event. In my psychology class, I could utilize online simulations or virtual experiments to deepen their understanding of psychological phenomena.

Check out the images of some my favorites “breaks” below!

Team Building Activity: “People with personality” Dinner Party

Group Activity: Technology of the 21st century- March Madness tournament

Skill Building: Art Analysis- The Harlem Renaissance

Ps. Looking for an engaging interactive lesson around the history of Thanksgiving? Look no further, I’ve go you covered! Just click the image below!

With these tips and new lessons in your arsenal, you’re ready to embrace the short teaching month of November with confidence and enthusiasm!

We’ve got this!!