Tired of Playing Catch-up in the Classroom? Here’s How to Fix It!

Tired of Playing Catch-up in the Classroom? Here’s How to Fix It!


Are you tired of playing catch-up in the classroom? Scrambling to plan and prep, grade papers, and always racing against the clock? It doesn’t have to be that way! Luckily, if you’re always playing catch-up in the classroom, there’s an easy way to fix it. By working ahead instead of staying behind, planning and prepping over the summer break to lay a strong foundation for the start of the school year, and using readily-available tips and techniques to make lesson planning, grading, and teaching easier, you can find yourself ahead of the game before the next break!

Are you tired of playing catch-up in the classroom? Scrambling to plan and prep, grade papers, and always racing against the clock? It doesn’t have to be that way! Luckily, if you’re always playing catch-up in the classroom, there’s an easy way to fix it. By working ahead instead of staying behind, planning and prepping over the summer break to lay a strong foundation for the start of the school year, and using readily-available tips and techniques to make lesson planning, grading, and teaching easier, you can find yourself ahead of the game before the next break! #lessonplanning #classroommanagement #whyiteach
The most effective teachers don’t try to recreate the wheel. Instead, they use resources that are easily-accessed, easy-to-implement, and easy on the budget! Luckily, there are a few resources and techniques that will help you finally put the game of catch-up to bed. Implementing some or all of these fixes will help you to not only find more time in your hectic school day, but also lessen your stress level! (And in today’s school environment, don’t we all need a little stress relief?!)


How do you get started? Well, building a solid foundation is the best way to kick off the school year right. By effectively planning your units, you can ensure that you’re meeting all content standards, maximizing student understanding, and making your job easier!


Organized Curriculum Mapping: This (FREE!) Curriculum Calendar or Map Template will help you map or organize your unit plans with ease. No longer will you look down to find your desk littered with lesson plans and no longer will you struggle to properly format your weekly/monthly/unit-long plans. Remove the guesswork with the Curriculum Calendar.

Seamless Lesson Planning: Use these Google Drive templates to lesson plan and unit plan! Design online and print as needed. You can include standards, objectives, program of studies, daily activities, bellringers, exit slips, modifications, and more! Adaptable for a 15 day unit plan and great for students who need to complete make-up work.

Clearly Communicating Your Expectations: Just as important as a well-developed unit plan, a syllabus is instrumental to starting the school year off on the right foot. Providing clear, understandable expectations to your students from day one will help to smoothe the inevitable transition period at the beginning of each school year, and will allow everyone to easily access the plan for the year. This specific World History Syllabus template includes strategies for teaching World History content, student responsibilities, discipline policies, grading policies, and a parent/student contract. Easily editable, this syllabus is perfect for any World History or World Studies class.

Advanced Placement (AP) Preparation: Though all classes need proper preparation, your AP courses especially need thorough development and attention to detail! Using this editable 16-page AP Introduction Packet, you can communicate strategies, expectations, grading options, course requirements, supply lists, summer assignments, thesis assistance, study skills, and graphic organizers! A complete resource for AP courses, this one is a must-have.

Complete Back to School Classroom Organization: To ensure that you have ALL the resources, tips, and techniques necessary to start the school year right, this Back to School Organization and Classroom Management Bundle aligns with Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek. This bundle includes seating charts, organizational tools and posters, lesson organization, classroom management tools, first day activities, student organizers, teacher portfolio guides, and tons of other products!

New teacher? First day jitters? Don't become the teacher who is always playing catch-up in your classroom! Staying two steps behind in a classroom that is moving at full-speed around you will only lead to stress and resentment toward your career! By planning throughout the summer and implementing new teaching techniques and fixes to help ease you into your first school year, you can start the year on a solid foundation that will surely lead to success! #newteacher #whyiteach #firstdayofschool #firstyearteacher

The Ultimate Lesson Plan for Teachers: For a more comprehensive guide to all things teaching, A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New or Old (Experienced, that is!) is a step-by-step guide for any student teacher, new teacher, or experienced teacher. It covers all aspects of an effective, efficient, high-expectations classroom. Including organization, the first day of school, administration, co-worker relationships, and many antecdotes, this book really has it all.

Combatting First Day Jitters: If you need a little more help in the first day of school department, this First Day of School Guide will help to plan the perfect start to your school year. With an introduction on expectations and standards, a full agenda with ice breakers, introductions, syllabi coverage, and more, this guide will help you plan a first day lesson plan that you can work through without the butterflies.

BONUS! Scavenge your way through the first day with this Editable First Days of School Classroom Scavenger Hunt. With a little humor, you’ll survive the first day basics without a hitch!

Soliciting Student Feedback: After you’ve perfectly planned and executed the first day, this Student Survey for Learning Evaluation will ensure that all expectations are communicated effectively and your students have a good understanding of how the year will progress. Providing them this outlet for feedback involves everyone in the learning process.

Are you a Grade A procrastinator, barely surviving school year after school year, finishing each lesson plan a day late and a dollar short with a stress level off the charts? Why?! There are so many existing techniques, lesson plans, and teaching techniques that can break your procrastination habit! Start the next school year on solid ground with summer preparation that will set you up for a successful school year! #procrastinatingteacher #gradeaprocrastinator #teacherswhoprocrastinate #teachingstrategies
Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and your parents probably drilled the same adage into your head. To be successful, be prepared! A teacher who is playing catch-up in the classroom is already two steps behind. It’s hard enough to get caught up, but even harder to get ahead! Planning and preparing over the summer can help you to build a strong foundation for the school year and you can move with ease to the next break! Using these resources to keep daily obligations at a minimum and tweaking lessons and grading to work effectively for you will help you to stay one step ahead of the next curve ball that comes your way.

Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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A Learning Process for Optimal Student Understanding

A Learning Process for Optimal Student Understanding


If you've been to a Professional Development course anytime in the last decade or so, you've likely heard the terms "multiple intelligences" and "differentiated learning" a couple dozen times. While it may seem overwhelming to apply these "up-and-coming" principles to your already existent lesson plans and teaching strategies, optimizing student understanding in your classroom doesn't have to be an overhaul. Instead, by simply integrating a few core ideas into your lesson plans, your middle school and high school students will reap the benefits by finding a learning process that works best for them.

If you've been to a Professional Development course anytime in the last decade or so, you've likely heard the terms "multiple intelligences" and "differentiated learning" a couple dozen times. While it may seem overwhelming to apply these "up-and-coming" principles to your already existent lesson plans and teaching strategies, optimizing student understanding in your classroom doesn't have to be an overhaul. Instead, by simply integrating a few core ideas into your lesson plans, your middle school and high school students will reap the benefits by finding a learning process that works best for them.#multipleintelligences #differentiatedlearning #middleschool #highschool #lessonplanning #teaching #learningstyles

Though the science of learning changes often, the underlying concepts normally stay the same. Teaching your students to describe, research, analyze, predict, interpret, map, and summarize allows them to dabble in many different learning styles, and you'll reach different students with each step. By providing a generalized, overall learning process for optimal student understanding, you can prepare your students not only for your course and your tests, but for future educational endeavors. This process can be applied in many different lesson plans, and after ingraining these easy steps into the minds of your students, learning through multiple intelligences and differentiated learning techniques will become second nature.

>>> <<<

Seamlessly integrate this basic 7-step learning process for
optimal student understanding in your lesson plans!
If you've been to a Professional Development course anytime in the last decade or so, you've likely heard the terms "multiple intelligences" and "differentiated learning" a couple dozen times. While it may seem overwhelming to apply these "up-and-coming" principles to your already existent lesson plans and teaching strategies, optimizing student understanding in your classroom doesn't have to be an overhaul. Instead, by simply integrating a few core ideas into your lesson plans, your middle school and high school students will reap the benefits by finding a learning process that works best for them.#multipleintelligences #differentiatedlearning #middleschool #highschool #lessonplanning #teaching #learningstyles

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< STEP 1 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 > PRE-READ <

Have students pre-read to define vocabulary and concepts for a topic of study.  


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< STEP 2 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The FOUR THOUGHT PROCESS asks students to follow four easy steps to proceed.

> DESCRIBE IT <
 > RESEARCH IT <
> ANALYZE IT <
> PREDICT IT <

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< STEP 3 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

> INTERPRET IT <

Allow students to apply their new knowledge by using interpretation skills.

 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< STEP 4 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Multiple topics can be covered to expand learning and allow for comparison between topics. 

you'd have students compare and contrast different countries.  

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< STEP 5 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

> MAP IT <

Helps students visualize information in a different way.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< STEP 6 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

> ILLUSTRATE IT <

Steps 5 and 6 provide the opportunity for your visual learners
to process information more effectively.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< STEP 7 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

> SUMMARIZE IT <

Serves as a wrap up assignment or assessment of student understanding. 

>>> <<<

If you've been to a Professional Development course anytime in the last decade or so, you've likely heard the terms "multiple intelligences" and "differentiated learning" a couple dozen times. While it may seem overwhelming to apply these "up-and-coming" principles to your already existent lesson plans and teaching strategies, optimizing student understanding in your classroom doesn't have to be an overhaul. Instead, by simply integrating a few core ideas into your lesson plans, your middle school and high school students will reap the benefits by finding a learning process that works best for them.#multipleintelligences #differentiatedlearning #middleschool #highschool #lessonplanning #teaching #learningstyles
By sliding these 7 easy steps into your lesson plans, your differentiated learners are sure to embrace the learning style that best fits them. Appealing to different multiple intelligences doesn't have to be overwhelming, stressful, or difficult. Instead, by using a simple strategy like this learning process for optimal student learning, you can forge through your lessons, ensuring that you reach every student to the best of your abilities. Doing so will not only be more rewarding in your role as a teacher, but you'll likely see pride reflected in the eyes of your students, too.


Happy Teaching!
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Michele Luck
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5 Tips for Teaching Presidential Contributions on Presidents' Day

5 Tips for Teaching Presidential Contributions on Presidents' Day


Though a small percentage of your students may learn well from rote memorization, many need a more engaging lesson to help them retain facts, specific information, and comparisons among our American Presidents. Teaching Presidential Contributions to your middle school and high school students can move beyond boring memorization with the right teaching strategies and a sure-fire lesson plan! Perfect for a lesson before or after Presidents' Day, or really any time of year, learning about the contributions of our Presidents can be engaging, fun, and even memorable.
 Though a small percentage of your students may learn well from rote memorization, many need a more engaging lesson to help them retain facts, specific information, and comparisons among our American Presidents. Teaching Presidential Contributions to your middle school and high school students can move beyond boring memorization with the right teaching strategies and a sure-fire lesson plan! Perfect for a lesson before or after Presidents' Day, or really any time of year, learning about the contributions of our Presidents can be engaging, fun, and even memorable. #teaching #lessonplans #UShistory #Presidentsday #USPresidents #Presidentialcontributions


With walking tours, centers and small group activities, matching games, an engaging Facebook-based research activity, and scavenger hunts, your Presidents' Day lessons can break the monotony of everyday history. By traveling through the last three centuries, students can compare and contrast those who have held our highest governmental office - the Office of the President. They can also tie this knowledge to general civics education and US History content. These 5 tips for teaching Presidential Contributions allow you to take what works in your lesson plan, and leave what doesn't!
Though a small percentage of your students may learn well from rote memorization, many need a more engaging lesson to help them retain facts, specific information, and comparisons among our American Presidents. Teaching Presidential Contributions to your middle school and high school students can move beyond boring memorization with the right teaching strategies and a sure-fire lesson plan! Perfect for a lesson before or after Presidents' Day, or really any time of year, learning about the contributions of our Presidents can be engaging, fun, and even memorable. #teaching #lessonplans #UShistory #Presidentsday #USPresidents #Presidentialcontributions


1. Guide your students on a Walking Tour through history by actively exploring ten of our most famous presidents with centers on biographical and political information, their path to presidency, their most significant contributions, their daily life as president, and miscellaneous interesting facts!

2. Bring back the Matching Game of your students' fondest childhood memories by timing them while they match biographical and political information with each president's name and picture! Have your students MATCH OFF by seeing who can compete for the fastest time.

3. Allow your students a bit of social media time to 'FRIEND' our Presidents and 'LIKE' their About Me sections! Use this template to create fake Facebook profiles for the Presidents and then post them all together on the classroom Facebook Timeline.

4. Send your kids on a Scavenger Hunt as they search for answers to clue cards on the Presidents! Regroup and discuss or have students answer wrap-up questions to reflect on their findings.

5.  Tie the information students have learned on the Presidents into our overall governmental framework with a Response Group Activity! Have them reflect on the responsibilities of the President, the qualifications of the office, and our most popular presidents to wrap up.


Though a small percentage of your students may learn well from rote memorization, many need a more engaging lesson to help them retain facts, specific information, and comparisons among our American Presidents. Teaching Presidential Contributions to your middle school and high school students can move beyond boring memorization with the right teaching strategies and a sure-fire lesson plan! Perfect for a lesson before or after Presidents' Day, or really any time of year, learning about the contributions of our Presidents can be engaging, fun, and even memorable. #teaching #lessonplans #UShistory #Presidentsday #USPresidents #Presidentialcontributions
Using these 5 tips for teaching Presidential Contributions on Presidents' Day, you'll leave a lasting impression on your middle school and high school students. Best case scenario, they'll spend their day off contemplating government, civics, and the contributions of our significant American Presidents. Well, a teacher can have lofty dreams, right?

Happy Teaching (and dreaming...)!



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Michele Luck
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Why Teaching Black History is not just a February Thing

Why Teaching Black History is not just a February Thing


If you flip through any history textbook, you’re sure to find African American faces throughout. Many of America’s important leaders and historic figures are black - so why do we only spend one month learning about them? The biggest favor your can do your middle school and high school students is to teach about black history all year around. Teaching black history isn’t just a February thing. Integrating black history into your year-round lesson plans will prepare students for in-depth learning, provide an unbiased education about America, and connect students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs.

If you flip through any history textbook, you’re sure to find African American faces throughout. Many of America’s important leaders and historic figures are black - so why do we only spend one month learning about them? The biggest favor your can do your middle school and high school students is to teach about black history all year around. Teaching black history isn’t just a February thing. Integrating black history into your year-round lesson plans will prepare students for in-depth learning, provide an unbiased education about America, and connect students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs.

She did what?! Consider Nikki Clarke’s unexpected approach to teaching black history in Teach Magazine. Surely none of her students expected to learn about potato chips when she mentioned black history, but teachers must stay vigilant in highlighting the vast accomplishments by all members of our country. Brushing over 10 African American accomplishments in 30 days may seem sufficient to a teacher trying to integrate black history into their curriculum, but limiting this instruction to the shortest month of the year hardly does it justice.


Teaching Tolerance highlights the importance of de-stigmatizing black history. They warn teachers not to trivialize one person or event, and not to interrupt everyday activities to highlight a topic of black history. Because, if you’re integrating black history into your everyday lesson plans, you aren’t scrambling to cover a historical figure in a twenty-minute time block. Your students are prepared, continually learning, and grasping black history within the fuller context of America’s history.

Teaching black history year round is crucial to every Social Studies classroom, but even if you’ve successfully laid a sturdy groundwork for black history throughout the year, expanding on this education during black history month can reinforce learning. Try using a review activity like this Important African Americans Biography Centers Activity to encourage students to recall important contributions of famous African Americans they’ve previously studied.
If you flip through any history textbook, you’re sure to find African American faces throughout. Many of America’s important leaders and historic figures are black - so why do we only spend one month learning about them? The biggest favor your can do your middle school and high school students is to teach about black history all year around. Teaching black history isn’t just a February thing. Integrating black history into your year-round lesson plans will prepare students for in-depth learning, provide an unbiased education about America, and connect students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs.
Or, highlight one of our most famous American activists, Martin Luther King, Jr., with a Scavenger Hunt, task card activity, or Walking Tour with this activity. Threading these activities into an all-inclusive curriculum will ensure that students understand the importance of their African American leaders and innovators, but also that they clearly understand the all-encompassing thread woven throughout their lives by their black predecessors.

If you flip through any history textbook, you’re sure to find African American faces throughout. Many of America’s important leaders and historic figures are black - so why do we only spend one month learning about them? The biggest favor your can do your middle school and high school students is to teach about black history all year around. Teaching black history isn’t just a February thing. Integrating black history into your year-round lesson plans will prepare students for in-depth learning, provide an unbiased education about America, and connect students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs.
Many teachers shy away from teaching controversial topics, but cramming all of your black history instruction into one month does a disservice to your students. Integrate these ideas and important peoples throughout your lesson plans all year. Provide an adequate groundwork for students to understand the contributions of black Americans. By using lessons like these throughout the year, your students will have a better understanding of the wide-reaching accomplishments of their fellow Americans of all colors.


Happy Teaching!


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Michele Luck
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How to Plan a World Religions Lesson in 5 Minutes or Less

How to Plan a World Religions Lesson in 5 Minutes or Less


Let's face it. Whether you're a first-year teacher or a seasoned educator, lesson planning can be a time-consuming, dreaded activity. Core content, standards, modifications, learning styles, diversification; there is just so much... well, planning. In the modern age of the Internet, you can be overwhelmed with the never-ending online resources at your fingertips. Finding those gems - those thorough, effective resources that you can implement year after year, tweaking to fit seamlessly into your semester plan - is priceless.

Especially when developing World Religions activities appropriate for your middle school or high school lesson plans, lesson planning can be daunting. But it doesn't have to be.

Let's face it. Whether you're a first-year teacher or a seasoned educator, lesson planning can be a time-consuming, dreaded activity. Core content, standards, modifications, learning styles, diversification; there is just so much... well, planning. In the modern age of the Internet, you can be overwhelmed with the never-ending online resources at your fingertips. Finding those gems - those thorough, effective resources that you can implement year after year, tweaking to fit seamlessly into your semester plan - is priceless. #socialstudies #lessonplan #history #worldreligions #teaching

The key to implementing an already-existing activity into your lesson plan is to modify it to fit your needs. Finding lesson plans that go so far as to offer up these modifications and implementation suggestions for you makes this process even easier! Take what works in your classroom and leave the rest. Try new strategies or stick with your tried-and-true methods. Use existing resources to make your job easier while making your students' education better


The topic of World Religions is vast and even controversial at times. Providing valid, insightful information, presented in an effective or interesting manner, isn't always easy, but it is possible! Using a ready-made activity plan like this World Religions Timeline Project Activity simplifies the work you need to put in to your daily plan. And, this activity plan allows you to plan a World Religions lesson in 5 minutes or less! Simply slide this complete activity, in whatever form works for you, into your unit plan as an introductory activity or for content review.

This specific lesson plan works for you and how you need it to. Use it as a group activity, an individual assignment, a make-up activity, for introduction of ideas, or for review! Use the included timeline resources for a research-and-document activity or even for a human timeline!

Let's face it. Whether you're a first-year teacher or a seasoned educator, lesson planning can be a time-consuming, dreaded activity. Core content, standards, modifications, learning styles, diversification; there is just so much... well, planning. In the modern age of the Internet, you can be overwhelmed with the never-ending online resources at your fingertips. Finding those gems - those thorough, effective resources that you can implement year after year, tweaking to fit seamlessly into your semester plan - is priceless. #socialstudies #lessonplan #history #worldreligions #teaching

As a group activity:

Assign students into pairs or small groups. Distribute the research sheet and timeline components to each group with assigned event cards. Instruct students to research and discuss their assigned events. Allow students to present the information they gathered to the class.

As an individual assignment:

Assign desired event pages and timeline components. Have each student create a complete timeline for posting, presenting, or otherwise utilizing. 


Let's face it. Whether you're a first-year teacher or a seasoned educator, lesson planning can be a time-consuming, dreaded activity. Core content, standards, modifications, learning styles, diversification; there is just so much... well, planning. In the modern age of the Internet, you can be overwhelmed with the never-ending online resources at your fingertips. Finding those gems - those thorough, effective resources that you can implement year after year, tweaking to fit seamlessly into your semester plan - is priceless. #socialstudies #lessonplan #history #worldreligions #teaching
Don't complicate your lesson planning process. Why spend hours brainstorming, researching, designing, documenting, organizing, and implementing unproven lesson plan ideas and activities when there are so many ready-made lessons at your fingertips? Instead, browse for thoroughness, effectiveness, and accuracy, and spend just 5 minutes modifying lesson plans like the World Religions Timeline Project Activity to work for you. You deserve to spend the rest of the time relaxing. (Who are we kidding? You'll be grading papers. But still.)

Happy Teaching!


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Michele Luck
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Dig Up the American Colonies to Review US History

Dig Up the American Colonies to Review US History



Though your middle school and high school US History students may have a vague understanding of who founded America, they've likely let go of the intimate knowledge of when, how, and why. Reintroducing the American Colonies will help to reinforce skills and review knowledge they learned earlier in the year. By using a hands-on approach, including response group activities, centers, and even an archaeological dig, students review information about basic US History in a fun context.

 Though your middle school and high school US History students may have a vague understanding of who founded America, they've likely let go of the intimate knowledge of when, how, and why. Reintroducing the American Colonies will help to reinforce skills and review knowledge they learned earlier in the year. By using a hands-on approach, including response group activities, centers, and even an archaeological dig, students review information about basic US History in a fun context. #ushistory #middleschool #highschool #tpt #americanhistory #americansettlement #archaeologicaldig #historyfun

Your middle school and high school US History students will appreciate a change of pace when you blanket their lesson plans with fun and engaging reviews, like centers activities and archaeological digs. Getting students moving, motivated, and intrigued will help to encourage deeper learning and will also help them to retain more knowledge for test time and end-of-year review! 

Fun Fact! What was the first successful colony? Hop over to Scholastic for the answer.

If your students enjoy practical applications of learning, adding the American Colonial Settlement Centers Activity or Archaeological Dig into your lesson plans is sure to spark an interest. Students have the opportunity to engage in group centers to collect information, create a human timeline, dig an archaeological dig site, review contextual information, play a matching game, and prepare a study guide for test time.
 Though your middle school and high school US History students may have a vague understanding of who founded America, they've likely let go of the intimate knowledge of when, how, and why. Reintroducing the American Colonies will help to reinforce skills and review knowledge they learned earlier in the year. By using a hands-on approach, including response group activities, centers, and even an archaeological dig, students review information about basic US History in a fun context. #ushistory #middleschool #highschool #tpt #americanhistory #americansettlement #archaeologicaldig #historyfun

Also, middle school and high school students can engage in US History review with Comparing the American Colonies - Response Group or Centers Activity. Students will work cooperatively to gather information on education, government, business and trade, community life, geography, settlement, and more, in each colony, and then perform different comparison/contrast engagements. Presenting them with this different approach to learning about the Colonies will surely engage them in a way that will help them retain similarities and differences among the colonies.

 Though your middle school and high school US History students may have a vague understanding of who founded America, they've likely let go of the intimate knowledge of when, how, and why. Reintroducing the American Colonies will help to reinforce skills and review knowledge they learned earlier in the year. By using a hands-on approach, including response group activities, centers, and even an archaeological dig, students review information about basic US History in a fun context. #ushistory #middleschool #highschool #tpt #americanhistory #americansettlement #archaeologicaldig #historyfun
By presenting your middle and high school students with these alternative learning activities, they're less likely to be bored with repetitive content. Instead, they'll embrace the hands-on learning approach, engage with classmates, develop cooperative learning skills, and work together to review information in a fun and informative way! Using these interactive activities will surely enhance the learning experience in your US History classroom year after year.

Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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