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Quick Tips for Teaching Geography: Name Games

Teaching Geography is one of the best Social Studies gigs to get! 
There are so many amazing resources for teaching the course, 
and fun strategies for teaching Geography are also unlimited. 
Follow this Quick Tips for Teaching Geography Series 
to learn those strategies for your classroom!
Quick Start Ideas for the Geography Classroom - Part of the Quick Tips for Teaching Geography Series

Quick Tips #2: Name Games
Learning the names of places in the US or around the World can be a great challenge, but it can also be fun when it is done with games!
Here are a few Geography Games to get your students closer to mastering those far off locations!

Quick Tips for Teaching Geography: Playing Name Games to learn the states and countries of the world.

Globe Throw
For my students, the appearance of the globe ball meant they could finally throw something in class. But beware - where your thumb hits, you must quickly name the country and provide one fact about the location. While the names are provided on most blow-up globes, you can create a decoupage globe for an added challenge!
Quick Tips for Teaching Geography: Playing Name Games to learn the states and countries of the world.

Topic Tag
This simple game can be played in any class, but for my Geography students, it was a quick call review for continental country names. Each student, when tagged, must name one of the countries being studied in the current unit. Bonus points could be added by the student locating the country on a map or globe!

I See, You See
Using projected state or country shapes, students must identify their shape and then call on a friend for the next one. Reviewing for units can be done in this fun way, and the competition can get real as the locations get more challenging! Make it even more fun with this Spin the States Game and a simple game spinner!

Shape Match
With any blank map or blank state or country card sets, students can play matching games to learn the names with ease.  Practice while playing Go Fish or let the students create their own games for matching names to shapes. For those with online access, Sheppard Software has games for all countries and states to help students practice with varied levels of difficulty.

Sing A Song
For years, elementary students have learned songs to practice naming the states. Continue using music to reinforce the names and their locations. With blank maps, students can label as they sing, or get kids up and moving by having them take turns pointing to the correct location on wall maps as names are called. 

Be sure to click on the Quick Tips category over on the ride side of this blog for more great strategies that can bring more fun and learning into your classroom!

Happy Teaching!

Quick Tips for Teaching Geography: Quick Start Ideas

Teaching Geography is one of the best Social Studies gigs to get! 
There are so many amazing resources for teaching the course, 
and fun strategies for teaching Geography are also unlimited. 
Follow this Quick Tips for Teaching Geography Series 
to learn those strategies for your classroom!
Quick Start Ideas for the Geography Classroom - Part of the Quick Tips for Teaching Geography Series

Quick Tips #1: Quick Start Ideas
Starting class in the right way helps to set the pace and the standard for effective learning throughout the day and throughout the course. Try each of these bellringer strategies to find the one (or many) that work best 
for you and your students.
Quick Start Ideas for the Geography Classroom - Part of the Quick Tips for Teaching Geography Series


Current Events
Why reserve current events for your history classes? Start off each Geography class period with a current event news report. Find reliable online sources from each state, region, or country of study to immerse your students in the happenings from that area. And don't worry about language barriers; just watching the images roll across the screen can be a great discussion starter on what your students think is happening in that part of the world!
Start off your current events trip around the world in Europe with Euronews!

Photo of the Day
Image analysis is one of the most critical skills for students to learn and practice. To emphasize this importance, start off each class period with the Photo of the Day. National Geographic provides these incredible photos for you online, and you can expand the lesson with further research or allow the students to apply prior knowledge to the image at hand.

Where in the World...?
Do you remember the Carmen Sandiego games? Give your students that same fun through a daily Where Are We prompt! List out characteristics of a place, or use these ready-made prompts, for a fun and engaging trip from the classroom to a new location each and every day!

Map Attack
Quick Start Ideas for the Geography Classroom - Part of the Quick Tips for Teaching Geography Series
Start off each class period with a game of darts! With a laminated wall map and a class set of sticky darts, let students enter class, throw their dart, and then quickly research the location of attack.  Use my Free SPRITE handout, allowing students to add each location to each category every day of the week for a 5 location summary each week!

Music Around the World
Studies have long shown that using music in the classroom can help students learn and better retain content. With that in mind, start each day with music from the region of study. The World Music Network has a great selection of music with quick and easy access. Let students listen and then respond to the sounds of the region.

Starting off with an effective bellringer not only gives you time to take attendance and prepare the last minute needs for your lesson, it also helps to get your students in the right frame of mind for learning. And if you use fun and engaging bellringers, your students are more likely to buy into the lesson and into learning in your Geography classroom!

Happy Teaching!

Teaching Diversity during Black History Month

As a high school History teacher with a set-in-stone curriculum map, the idea of stopping my lessons to insert a resource or unit on "Black History" was troubling to me. What was more troubling was the fact that, to me, the history of diversity should be taught all year long, every year. 

Both of those personal beliefs created classroom problems. 
Let me take you back...


Before my first year of teaching in my own classroom, I sat in my new space and skimmed through every resource left to me by the retiring teacher. There were sets of textbooks, black-lined dittos (that's a history lesson), and worksheets of every kind neatly stuffed into file folders in huge filing cabinets. After days of going through what that teacher of 36 years considered his greatest gift to me, the newbie, I was in tears. I stumbled into the assistant principal's office to ask what I could do.

Then she asked the big question:

What was the problem?

I let it all go! I explained that to teach history correctly, in a way that would best represent and empower all of my students, I needed resources that would help me to show them the true history, not just that of white, Anglo-saxon, Protestant, males, but the history of everyone. And preferably, in their own words. I wanted to teach my courses on Government, Geography, U.S. History, and World History from multiple perspectives and with a global focus, allowing my students to use critical thinking skills in their evaluation of varied resources.


Yes, I was very ideological and optimistic back then! I truly thought she would whip out the checkbook and hand me a list of phone numbers for the distributors of those oh, so valuable resources so they would be delivered nice and shiny by the first day of school just weeks away.

Instead, my very understanding assistant principal told me to follow her.

We walked down the hallway to the custodian's closet. She pulled out two large trash cans on wheels. We rolled them to my classroom. And then, she helped me to dump every single worksheet from the filing cabinets into the trash cans. We also stacked all of the 10 year old textbooks into a book room, leaving me just one class set on a shelf in the corner of the room.

Then she gave me a piece of advice that has changed my teaching (and truly my life) every since:
The only way you are going to get what you want is to create it yourself!

And that's what I did.  For every topic in every subject area.

After 15 years of teaching, and 5 more years of just creating these resources, I am overjoyed to see that we (the many of us in my teaching generation that broke from the book) can now provide every new teacher with the tools that will truly make learning an inclusive experience for every student in their classroom.

With all of that said, I've also come around just a bit on my "don't mess with my curriculum" attitude!  While I still believe diversity should be taught year round, I also feel we need to address diversity even more during the annual events. After all, during my 20 years in the academic world, I learned another important lesson, too. It's all about equity!

For those looking for that perfect Black History Month resource, take a look at my Important African Americans Biography Centers Activity. The resources introduces students to 12 African Americans that have truly made a difference in America through their dedication to breaking down barriers and building up citizens to create a nation in which we can all be proud.

Teaching the History of Diversity during Black History Month

And for an added activity, be sure to download my FREE Analyzing Quotes of African American Leaders Task Card Set. These are great for bell ringers or simply to help students see for themselves the great contributions made by these people of color.

Teaching the History of Diversity during Black History Month

Use the two resources together for an even more valuable lesson!

Teaching the History of Diversity during Black History Month
Happy Teaching!