Raise your hand if you feel like your science and social studies instruction time gets cut shorter and shorter every year. I DID! It seemed like every time something had to be cut, it was from those two subjects. I had to quickly learn how to teach an effected social studies lesson in 25 minutes…and it was not easy.
As a personal LOVER of social studies, I was extremely frustrated that I felt like I couldn’t teach a meaningful lesson in the 25 minutes that I was being given. I finally realized that these time constraints weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so it was time for me to find a way to MAKE IT MEANINGFUL. As a fifth grade teacher, this sample social studies lesson will be based off of a Civil War lesson, but it can be adapted to fit any social studies lesson or curriculum! I have MANY social studies topics to choose from HERE!
3 minutes – Quick recap from yesterday (“Yesterday we talked about the differences between General Lee and General Grant. Let’s see if we can remember 8 of those differences in the next two minutes. Timer starts….NOW!”)
2 minutes – HOOK – get your students to buy in to the lesson*this hook comes from my Civil War lessons HERE!* (“You guys aren’t going to believe this, but the entire course of the Civil War was changed because of some secret plans found wrapped around 2 cigars. 2 CIGARS potentially changed the course of history! As we’re talking about these battles today, you’re going to hear what happened and it will blow your minds”)
15 minutes – Story time History should be taught like a STORY. Kids should be just as interested in it as they would be in your read aloud. So how do you make this happen? PUT DOWN the notes, and let your students just listen. FIRST tell the story, THEN take the notes. When students listen and take notes simultaneously, they aren’t engaged in the material and you aren’t allowing them to MAKE CONNECTIONS TO THE MATERIAL.
So, for this 15 minutes, all students must have empty hands, they sit back, and they relax. This is when you turn on your most ENGAGING, THEATRICAL voice that you possibly can and teach your students the lesson for the day. Don’t just read off of a slide, (although instructional slides like THESE are extremely helpful to guide your story time). Instead, use whatever slides you have as a visual to support the story you are telling. Share history like you would a read aloud – draw your students in!
10 minutes – Notes NOW it’s time for the students to take what they just heard and turn it into organized notes that will serve as REMINDERS of the story that they heard. Notes are not for learning, they’re intended to trigger memories of what students have already learned. Scaffolded notes like the ones found HERE are my favorite because they allow more independent learners and students with accommodations to work at a similar pace in a way that is effective for every student!
So there you have it. Put the social studies book away, put the notebooks down, and let you students just listen and connect to history. The more they connect, the more they remember, and the more effective your social studies instruction will be!
Want to see a FREE sample of scaffolded social studies notes that I love? Try this FREEBIE!