Monday Mapping: Addressing Current Events with Historical Facts

As we get closer to the end of the school year, and especially after testing, it becomes more and more challenging to teach in the content-based, unit to unit way we are used to in our Social Studies classrooms.  Students are less willing to read from texts and are more apt to share their opinions rather than support anything with fact.  This pushes us, the dedicated to the end teachers, to pull out lessons that will engage, and maybe even some that will entice anger, frustration, or sadness, just to get a response!

Most lessons of the sort will not be an easy find, or even an easy creation.  They come from knowing your students, and knowing what will rile them up!  Still, here are a few tips to get you started:
In the end, just find a theme.  Something you know travels through time, and is still significant today.  While a few years old now, Jimmy Carter's "Losing my Religion" piece is perfect for stirring up conversation (and review).  Read along in the piece (at the link), and then ask yourself where these questions could take your classroom...
  1. What does religion mean in your life?  (Yes, you can ask this!  No, it does not mean you are introducing or judging any religion or breaking any law.)
  2. How do you think religion affects society?
  3. How does religion impact the political system or laws?
  4. What historical support can you come up with for President Carter's points on the oppression of women by religion?
  5. Are some religions more or less accepting of difference than others?
  6. How does the discrimination discussed by Carter compare to other, more current discrimination? 
  7. What groups or peoples are the brunt of discrimination in modern society?
  8. How has history taught us to be tolerant?  Forgiving?  Accepting?
  9. What do you think is the overall goal of The Elders?
  10. Do you think people can practice their faith and still be accepting of difference?  How?
  11. Why? Why? Why?  This is the big one... As your students why we should look deeper at this issue and those similar.
  12. And finally, What can you do?  You see what Carter has done through this piece.  Other world leaders joined him in statements regarding their own faiths or beliefs.  What can you, as individuals in our modern world, do to make a difference now and in the future?
Teaching the last days of each school year can be an incredible challenge, but it can also be a great learning experience for you and your students!  Enjoy your time with them, and help them take away everything they can from the classroom experience.

Teaching with current events in the middle and high school classroom can be a great way to get students engaged and to teach them historical context. Read these tips for getting started at any time of the school year. #teaching

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck

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