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cali11 06-23-2017 09:32 AM

New 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
Hello, everyone!
I recently accepted a 7th grade social studies position at a school that I long-term subbed at. I did my student teaching in the Fall 2016, but feel that I did not get the best experience in social studies, due to an intimidating cooperating teacher. So, I am a little lost. Any advice about social studies or teaching 7th grade is welcome!

lisa53 06-24-2017 02:32 AM

Congratulations! It will be an exciting, exhausting, frustrating, and rewarding year next year.

Seventh graders are a lot of fun. Girls are growing up and will look and act soooooooo mature.....compared to the boys, who are still children.

Story: I once taught seventh grade science. We had a unit about gases. Part of the unit was how various gases are formed and cycle through the environment. During our study of methane, we discussed anaerobic bacterial action and places where that occurs. The girls were carefully and seriously taking notes, raising their hands to ask how to spell "anaerobic". The boys were making farting noises.:rolleyes:

I have no suggestions about social studies except to keep it active and engaging. Nothing worse than a bunch of dry facts they have to memorize. Have them role-play, debate, create projects, and otherwise be engaged actively in learning.

Best of luck to you!

Mshope 06-26-2017 10:50 AM

I'm not sure exactly what you are going to be teaching. I teach geography which can get a little dull. I like to tie our subject manner into current events to make it as relevant as possible. Also, we shy away from having students memorize countries and facts in a region and do a lot of projects. I've learned to give students a criteria and let them go. We do simulations, skits, plays, presentations, web quests, and a lot of packets to start out each unit. We do the reading and the vocabulary today mostly. I've started to let kids make their own study guide in groups. Most of our tests and quizzes are open notes or open packet.

We don't really have a text book, so we use resources from a variety of sources. I really like Newsela to level the articles for all students. I might have life skills, emotional support, physically disabled, learning support, gifted, and regular education students together in one class. I love how the students include every child in their groups.

The challenges I have with this type of class are that it is hard when you have kids who are frequently absent. Since we have no book, making copies can be grueling. Also, I don't have a lot of space to display the projects. Although the content can at times be a bit dull, we power through it. I also incorporate a lot of video clips, music, and newspaper articles into the class.

My advice is to drill rules and procedures at the start of school. I stop an activity if kids are misusing the supplies or off-task. I like to include checkpoints, like, "Raise your hand when your group has your plan do. I will approve it." I start out picking groups and partners (sometimes random, something not) at the start of the year, by the end, they are usually find choosing their own partners. I started to check that kids completed the assignment and then letting them self-check it with the answer key. Sometimes I would "surprise" collect and score things to keep kids on their toes.

The number #1 thing my classes seem to love about ss are the review games. I started to let the kids write some questions and "run" the game toward the end of the year. Again, if the game gets out of control, stop it. I remind my students how to act basically every class. Seventh graders can turn into monsters on a dime, but overall they are enthusiastic and will appreciate a class that includes a little more choice.

1956BD 07-08-2017 10:29 AM

Great article
Most of these still work for 7th graders.

1956BD 07-08-2017 11:00 AM

Make it fun
They still have short attention spans. So change activities (not the learning topic necessarily) but how they are learning every 15 to 20 minutes.

Research historical cartoons. Find some that relate to your topics. Share them on your document camera and discuss. At least one a week would be excellent. When they are not listening and you've lost them pull the cartoon out. Maybe then they can draw their own version. This may take more than a year to collect but I would get started now and build as you go.

Make a current events connection weekly. This could be through print or video. Share with the class. Discuss the current situation. Then ask if there are any historical connections. This might be a good time to have the write a response. Writing across the curriculum is good for them. You can model a few times to get them started.

Use Youtube if possible. Great clips on many social studies and historical topics.

Use historical films. Just show short scenes to open a discussion or topic.

Give them an opportunity to work in small groups weekly. They could answer an either or choice or would you rather question. No real answers but they need to support their choices in an all class discussion.

Play music from different periods of time.

Look at art from different cultures and periods to learn about that culture.

Make connections world wide. When this was happening in Africa, America was........ and in South America the blah blah was discovered. The purchase of a really good wold timeline for the classroom might be a great resource. There are also timeline books of history.

Kids this age care about fashion. Talk about what people were wearing at the time, how they wore their hair, their dental care or lack of, their hygiene habits, how old the average person lived from that era.

Discuss inventions and inventors form each historical period.

Bring in great disasters like earthquakes, fires, hurricanes..... These are fascinating to most people.

When were famous buildings built? What tools did they use? How many slaves died before it was finished? How long did it take to complete?

I would research and find good picture books you can share with the class about history. One I can think of that is seventh grade worthy is The Encounter by Jane Yolen. It is about the arrival of Christopher Columbus in The Americas however it is not told from his point of view but rather the point of view of the native on the island where he landed. The same author also write a series called An Unsolved Mystery From History:???? My favorite is The Mary Celeste. They are not too old to be read to.

Do some projects.

Dress up some days to reflect what you are learning.

This may seem overwhelming but the key is to make the history enjoyable to learn. Have fun with it! If you have their attention they will learn more. Laugh and have fun yourself. If you are enjoying the topic there is a better chance they will too.


1956BD 07-08-2017 06:38 PM

Another great picture book to check

This is filled with the science of water and the social aspects of water all over the world. It is too long to read in one day but might be able to use parts to make connections. Also can make the point that not everyone in the world has clean water.

cali11 07-10-2017 12:08 PM

Thank you!
Thank you everyone for your great advice, it really is helpful! I will be teaching ancient history, specifically ancient Greece, Rome, Feudal Europe, and Japan, Islamic Empires, and Africa. I definitely plan on making it engaging with videos and other media. I was looking for books to use, so I will most certainly be looking at your suggestions!

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