Our school did a trial of Sycamore a year or so ago, and found it difficult to use. I know at least one Mennonite school that uses Sycamore and says good things about it, but it didn’t work for us. 🙁
Living History Threads is actually what we have been using. It just doesn’t seem to work well with the minimal time we schedule for social studies. 🙁 It’s disappointing to me that LHT hasn’t worked out for us because I really like the idea behind it, and I’m glad to hear that it works well for you.
Our school is changing our social studies curriculum in grades 1–4. In these grades we only have social studies class two days a week for half the year, i.e. on about 20% of the days of school. (This schedule allows more time for reading and language, and is unlikely to change anytime soon.) Our social studies priorities for these grades are b…[Read more]
Someone requested that I share how my reading time experiment turned out. To that end, during the last week of the school year I had my students anonymously fill out a questionnaire, reproduced below with the number of students (out of 13) who responded in the given ways.
How many entire or partial books did you read during this school year as…[Read more]
A couple times last week I did something that had a remarkable effect on class discussion. In both cases I wanted students to share thoughts and questions from a book excerpt I’d assigned them to read. I simply announced that I would be keeping track of who participates, and that each student would get a quiz grade based on their participation. A…[Read more]
Here are the books my students read yesterday during reading time. It’s pretty representative of our selection.
A History of the Amish by Steven Nolt
The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-three Centuries of Anti-Semitism by Edward H. Flannery
The Mayos: Pioneers in Medicine by Adolph Regli
Uncovering Soviet Disasters: Exploring the Limits of Glasnost…[Read more]
I address this question in my latest blog post, but I’m sure I haven’t exhausted the topic. How have you faced this question, or some version of it, in your unique circumstances? What answers have you found effective?
It’s not a carefully curated collection, just a shelf full of maybe about 100 nonfiction books that are related in some way to history or geography (since in my classroom this activity is part of history class). I brought roughly 1/3 of them from my personal library, and the rest were rescued from the storage to which they were relegated from our…[Read more]
Songs often vividly reflect the times and places of their origin, and I like to bring them into my high school history classroom. In my church history class a few weeks ago I sang* some Christmas songs that illustrate important trends in Christianity: “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (Christological controversies in the early church), “Let All…[Read more]
Update—With the majority of the school year behind us, I think I can say that my reading experiment has been a success. Students read willingly and seem to enjoy it in a low-key way. I haven’t found it necessary to change the procedure described above. It’s been gratifying to see some students make significant progress through very thick books t…[Read more]
We have two meetings like this, one in the fall and one in the late winter or early spring. They are planned by a committee made up of a patron couple and a staff member. The meeting generally includes reports on the budget, fundraisers, staff or facility needs, and the like. We often have a speaker, much as Jonas described. One year we had time…[Read more]
I’ve long believed that names and dates should consume a minimum of our time and energy in history class. Yes, some of this instruction is necessary, but only to the degree that it truly aids understanding of the past. Regarding dates in particular, I consider them important mostly for helping us to understand how events are situated in time…[Read more]
I was afraid someone would ask that. 🙂 This is something I don’t feel like I have a good handle on yet. Drawing largely on some things I’ve read here on the forum, I emphasize active engagement of the memory rather than passive reading and rereading. I give students review sheets with questions and tell them to write the answers using information…[Read more]
This is a problem that I’ve also struggled with over the years. Ultimately, the solution is for students to value knowledge as they ought, and that’s a battle I continue to have my ups and downs with. But there are a few things I’ve found helpful for encouraging timely test preparation and discouraging those last-minute lingerings over the…[Read more]
I recently wrote a blog post about cultivating class discussions, and thought I’d start a thread for asking questions and sharing ideas on this subject.
What have you found helpful for promoting good discussions?
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. I also do not believe that every problem a person may have is a sign of mental illness that needs to be labeled and treated. It can be difficult to untangle symptoms of mental illness from the normal flaws of human nature, and hopefully this student merely has excessively high standards and needs to…[Read more]
I use a secular text called History of a Free Nation, published by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. It’s about 20 years old by now, but I don’t mind because most of US history happened more than 20 years ago. 🙂 It’s a reasonably well-written, comprehensive text. It is very evenhanded towards religions and ideologies, with an obvious and pretty successful…[Read more]
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