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5 Reasons Students Hate History AND What You Can Do To Change That!

Students hate History. It's a fact! Teachers all around the world hear the complaints from students about the content area, and many students shut down as soon as they enter the History classroom as a result of this [often] unexplained hatred.

5 Reasons Students Hate History and what you can do to change that! These 5 tips can transform your middle or high school classroom to help you counter that myth about the History subject area. I bet you can guess the top reason! #history #teachinghistory #socialstudies #lessonplans #lessons #teaching #teachers #students #middleschool #highschool #teachingsocialstudies #ccss #ncss #standards #iteach678 #iteachhs

So, why do students hate history?  The top 5 reasons students hate History are not a secret. We've all heard these excuses [or justifications] over and over. It's how we choose to respond to them that matters.

Next time you have a student claim they are not interested in your course for one of the following reasons, just counter with the suggested responses or lessons!
  1. History is BORING!
    • Any subject can be boring if it is not taught in the right way. Counter with games, interactive lessons, and topics of study that will change their mind! Teach the controversies of history. Introduce the hidden History that raises eyebrows. And allow students choice in what or how they study the past. Make it fun, make it engaging, and make it important to learn.
  2. History is just about dead people.
    • Many History teachers only teach WAMP (White Anglo Male Protestant) History. They leave out the stories of women and minorities. More importantly, some leave out the social History that influences the political changes that make up most standards. Bring out the life in your History lessons and make it more modern with activities that allow students to see the lessons in the here and now.  Don't simply recite the old adage that we need to learn from History to not make the same mistakes; instead let your students walk into the past to make that conclusion for themselves.
  3. History is just the memorization of people, places, and dates.
    • History should never [just] be memorization. Learning to think historically allows us to apply those lessons of the past to our modern time and modern problems. Addressing the bigger picture in every era not only makes it less about the details, it enhances the lesson to make it more engaging. And the bonus: The big picture is easier to remember, compare, and relate. 
  4. History is all lecture and text reading.
    • Teaching strategies must be matched to the students in your classroom. If you are only teaching from a text or lecturing 24/7, you will lose your students at the beginning of the year and never get them back. Change things up. Use Walking Tours, Archeology Digs, Scavenger Hunts, Internet Activities, Think-Pair-Share variations, Jigsaws, and other co-operative lessons to keep learning alive in your classroom. The textbook is just one tool and lecture is just one strategy. Be sure to add in many other tools and strategies to reach all of your students and keep them engaged. 
  5. History is not relevant. I'll never use History in my lifetime!
    • This is 1-4 combined! Don't let this happen in your classroom! History is relevant. Look at our current political climate. Look at the world around us and the need for students to understand different cultures. Look at the opportunities for travel and international relationships that our students will have IF they learn about others and the way our world has formed over time. Teach them to think through History's lens, applying the lessons of the past to the problems of today.  And encourage them to be knowledgeable about our world. When we only know what is right before us, we never see outside of our box. 
History is a dying subject area. It is being pushed further and further out of our schools and is constantly demeaned by our legislators and by those who create the assessments that steer our students toward "success."  Battle this!  Teach History in ways that will engage our students, in ways that will keep them asking questions, and with the understanding that it will help them find explanations for those questions they ask.

5 Reasons Students Hate History and what you can do to change that! These 5 tips can transform your middle or high school classroom to help you counter that myth about the History subject area. I bet you can guess the top reason! #history #teachinghistory #socialstudies #lessonplans #lessons #teaching #teachers #students #middleschool #highschool #teachingsocialstudies #ccss #ncss #standards #iteach678 #iteachhs
Yes, History is all about the past. But, it is also the door to our future. Teach that to your students, so they can pass it on!

Happy Teaching!

Using Walking Tours in the Classroom

I love Using Walking Tours in the Classroom. It is my absolute go to for those lessons where I need to deliver a large amount of content, yet I have little time. And then there is the best bonus about walking tours (or gallery walks) - they are fun, so your students love them, too!

Are you always looking for the perfect lesson plan or strategy to teach a ton of content in a short period of time? Take a look at this great idea! It is perfect for the middle or high school classroom and students will love it! #teaching #gallerywalk #walkingtour #strategies #iteach678 #iteachhs

What is the benefit of a Walking Tour?
Content in the ELA and Social Studies classroom can be boring and tedious for students if they do not understand the historic setting of the content. While we can outline the components of the story or lesson as we read, if students do not have basic background knowledge, the author’s purpose, meaning, and significance can be lost.

To help students better immerse themselves in history, teachers can utilize period-appropriate Walking Tours to set the stage. In 1-5 day activities, students can step back in time to get a feel for the climate and the culture depicted in the reading.

How does a Walking Tour work?
Your work comes entirely before the activity begins. Set up your classroom with images, quotes, factual tidbits, full readings, video, music, and more for students to investigate as they tour the room. Hang resources on walls, sit them on desks, utilize bulletin boards, or float items from the ceiling. Then, stand back and watch the learning take place!

Chaos, you imagine? Not if you do it right!
  • Arrange students in pairs or small groups for movement around the room.
  • Set up an online stopwatch to keep students on track.
  • Include visuals, fun activities for students to complete, music, video, and more to keep students engaged.
  • Require students to complete tasks or record information at they travel, and always remind students they will be required for all provided content.
  • Float! As students are taking the tour, travel around to engage students in conversation. Ask them questions, share with them what interests you about the topics, or simply comment on their perceptions and insights as they share with each other.

Where can you find ready-made Walking Tours?
Walking Tours and other engaging activities can be found ready-made for you on TeachersPayTeachers at Michele Luck’s Social Studies.
Walking Tours can take students out of the typical classroom setting. It makes learning fun, and before you know it, your students will love coming to class, ready to take the next trip into the past.

Are you always looking for the perfect lesson plan or strategy to teach a ton of content in a short period of time? Take a look at this great idea! It is perfect for the middle or high school classroom and students will love it! #teaching #gallerywalk #walkingtour #strategies #iteach678 #iteachhs

Where do you want to go next?

Happy Teaching!

Teaching Controversial Issues

Teaching controversial issues can be a great challenge for teachers. Some teachers worry they do not have the right tools or background knowledge to adequately approach the topics, while others may fear repercussions for addressing these issues in such an unsettled climate.  However, teaching about controversies, especially current events like those that took place in Charlottesville and St. Louis, are even more important for students in today's classrooms.

Suggestions and ideas for teaching controversial issues, such as Charlottesville, in the classroom by Naomi O'Brien of Read Like a Rock Star and Michele Luck of Michele Luck's Social Studies.

As we continue to grow as a diverse nation (and world), we must work to make sure all students find their place. This includes reaching those marginalized students and giving them the support they need to find classroom success and to also feel loved and accepted in this world. More importantly, as a nation, it is only through education that we can make ourselves better.  Facing our shortcomings and finding solutions to breach our gaps is the key to guiding the next generations in the direction toward positive change.

To help you get started, I have teamed up with Naomi O'Brien of Read Like a Rock Star to share tips and ideas for breaking the barriers in your classroom to address the topics you know you need to address.

Tips and Ideas for the Elementary Classroom 
by Naomi O'Brien of Read Like a Rock Star

In K-5, especially in the younger of those grades, the thought of navigating a conversation of this magnitude can feel uncomfortable, inappropriate, or just plain wrong. I am here to tell you that these students can handle these conversations if they are handled in the right way.

As a black woman that didn’t have a black teacher until middle school, I would have greatly appreciated any one of my elementary school teachers having conversations about race with our class. All I ever had each year was a few days in February filled with stories about Rosa Parks, quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and empty words about how equal we all are (when I knew very well that we weren’t).

Make a Safe Space: Create a safe space for all students to share their ideas, opinions, and feelings about the heavy topics they will be learning about. Build a strong classroom community that can work through tough topics together. Encourage risk-taking and divergent thinking in your classroom. Teach your students that unique responses are okay! If you have students of color in your classroom, chances are they have already had some negative experiences in life as a result of the color of their skin (or someone they care about has). If you don’t have students of color, chances are they are oblivious to the plight that students their age have to go through because of their skin color. They have the privilege of not having to know. No matter who is sitting in front of you, these lesson are necessary, these lessons are needed, and these lessons can help shape a generation of compassionate, empathetic, and informed students as early as kindergarten.

Analyze Images: Find (age appropriate) photos to project, or print, and display for your class to see. Give them some background knowledge about the image you show them. Make sure to include facts only. It is not your job to tell them that something they are seeing is right or wrong, you are simply presenting the information to them. Specifically regarding Charlottesville, a “safe” image to use with your students could be any of the photos depicting the white supremacists holding torches. Ask your students the following questions:

What do you see?

How do you think they feel?

Depending on the grade level you teach, give your students some background knowledge about why these men got together for a rally.

How does that make you feel? Why?

If you could talk to these men what would you say?

What might be a solution to this issue?

This is a great time to address early on in the year that people of color in America have never been treated as equal. There is still a lot of work for all of us to do. It is not enough to tell your students to be nice. We need to teach them to be anti-racist. We need to teach them how to spot racism, how to think critically about it, and what to do when they see it happening.

Checking In: Check in with how your students are feeling throughout your lesson. In the lower grades, allow students to draw a picture, circle a face, or draw a face that depicts how they are feeling before, during, and after a tough lesson. Older students can jot their feeling down anonymously on a Post-It note. You can group student responses by feelings so that students can see that others may or may not feel the same way as them. This can lead to more discussion about why some students feel a certain way.

Tips and Ideas for the Middle and High School Classroom
by Michele Luck's Social Studies
In the secondary classroom, most students are ready and willing to share their thoughts on current events, especially with which they feel a direct connection. The real challenge comes in harvesting that willingness in a positive way that will offer all students a safe and secure place to share their thoughts and even their concerns.

Suggestions and ideas for teaching controversial issues, such as Charlottesville, in the classroom by Naomi O'Brien of Read Like a Rock Star and Michele Luck of Michele Luck's Social Studies.
Rally image by Anthony Crider, available by CC on Wikipedia Commons.

One of my favorite strategies for teaching controversial issues is the Big Paper Activity. In this lesson, students silently navigate the classroom to respond to questions or prompts written at the top of presentation paper sheets. This creates a safe setting where students can share their thoughts without feeling the pressure that could arise in a discussion or debate scenario.  Add images, quotes, or news excerpts for added content to which students can respond.

Analyzing Images is another incredible tool to use in the middle or high school classroom. Utilizing spiral questioning techniques, teachers can guide students through seeing the images and reading meaning from what they see in the images. Round out image analysis lessons with current events articles, primary sources on the topics, and whole class comparison activities where students can examine and evaluate the conflict in a more analytical format.

Suggestions and ideas for teaching controversial issues, such as Charlottesville, in the classroom by Naomi O'Brien of Read Like a Rock Star and Michele Luck of Michele Luck's Social Studies.
Teaching students how to properly express their thoughts is another great tool to be taught and reinforced at the secondary level. Give students a Genius Hour each week and allow them time to research a current event or topic of interest that they can then present to the class in any form or manner. Encourage students to tap into their creative sides to present their topics through song, dance, theatrical performance, the creation of a video, the creation of an artistic piece, or in any way they feel they can adequately show what they've learned and what they care about helping others understand!

Our Call to Action
Whether you teach kindergarten or seniors in high school, teaching controversial issues is vital for helping to empower the next generation. Guide them toward kindness and away from hate, so that they can someday live in a world of acceptance and appreciation for everyone.