Monday, June 18, 2012

Social Studies--Overarching Themes Bulletin Board

Social do you teach it all? represent it all? keep it all together? Do you teach through themes or do you teach through history? If you teach through history (like I do), how do you hit geography and economics? If you hit geography and economics, how do you get past the American Revolution? Well, I know one answer is that we often integrate history topics into readers' workshop (historical fiction gives us a great opportunity to learn about something we won't have time for in social studies block) and another way is to incorporate a few of the topics into a nonfiction writing project (like our Washington, DC "History is Interesting" feature articles). Okay, I've done both of those! But, I wanted a way to represent these themes/strands and time periods that we are supposed to learn about in one place.

Here's what I came up with...the era's are across the top and themes/strands are down the left side. I have more eras and more themes, but my bulletin board ran out of space :( .  We will use this to reflect on and summarize our learning. The beauty of it is, WE (I) WILL BE ABLE TO SEE THE HOLES IN OUR LEARNING :)

I also love this (for the holes reason) because I might find that I am unable to teach a whole unit on one of the topics in history, but I'm sure I can find a day or two to let students learn a little bit about the topic we wouldn't get to otherwise (see my Civil Rights Era Timeline Activity for an example of a valuable 2-day project that builds background knowledge). I kinda feel like I can use this to do an "it's better than nothing" couple of lessons on the parts of history we won't get to go in depth on. Then, students will have some background knowledge for future history classes. (I feel so guilty admitting that we don't get to it all, like it's some secret the people who make the social studies standards don't want us to say out loud.)

In my defense, I truly feel this will up the level of social studies teaching in my classroom and the understanding of social studies for my students. (And such a simple idea :) I also plan to have students create a working timeline as we study different time periods. We will start the year off with an "overview of United States History" timeline activity. (Which I will happily share when it's completed :)

My next thought was, okay, this is great for a classroom representation, but how will the kiddos represent and track their learning without it being a huge chart with itty-bitty blocks for them to have to try to cram information into. Thus, this 2 pg template was born.

This could be used as a prior knowledge template and then an end of unit assessment. I love the idea of using this as an assessment/quiz piece at the end of the unit, especially since students and I will complete it together throughout the unit as we learn about the time period. I worry about using it at the beginning of the unit because students might not know very much at all---maybe they could work in partners or small groups :) It's always good to get a measure of prior knowledge, even if the knowledge is incorrect or full of misconceptions.

Download everything you need to get this bulletin board started at my tpt store.

Happy teaching! I hope this social studies idea is a super-awesome-amazing problem solved for your classroom :)


  1. I love this idea! Just gave you the “One Lovely Blogger Award” because I always enjoy reading your posts.
    April @ The Idea Backpack

  2. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing.




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