Monday, November 29, 2010

How do I plan for teaching a LONG unit of study?

Ms. Dorothy,
I have to start teaching the Civil War soon and I don't know what to do. I'm just not sure how to begin. When I taught it before I had only two days, now I have a whole month. Any inspiration for me?
- High School Teacher

How exciting to have a long chunk of time to work with! Even in 90 minute sessions, having an extended period to focus on one topic really provides opportunities to let the students take on the content.

Do a little research and collect material for the students to work with. Articles, pictures and first hand accounts will make it come to life. Check out what the Library of Congress has to offer, their teacher section has some amazing primary source materials!

Then give that research to the class and let them work in collaborative groups to understand and share it with the rest of the class.

Find an expert or an enactor in your area to come in and talk to the class, or set up a skype session with one that isn't in your area. Giving students someone to interview can really help keep the subject from getting dry.

Pose a question for the class to debate and have them take sides and argue their case. Bring in an audience, or video tape the debate to send to experts and let someone other than you score them for their content knowledge.

The more work the students are doing and the less you are directly teaching them the content, the better they will absorb the material, and the more meaningful it will be.

Most of all, have fun with it, and the students will too!

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