Social Studies Wednesdays
One of the challenges of teaching history is to somehow get my students to think about the people in our text books as, well..real people. And, because the history we study in sixth grade covers our nation's earliest years, the people we learn about are even more distant and different. I am always on the hunt for stories that will make someone like John Adams or Alexander Hamilton "come alive" for my students, stories about their daily lives or something humorous they said or did.
Sometimes, as with the story of eleven year old Grace Bedell who convinced candidate Lincoln to grow a beard, there are letters and pictures to piece together and create a Prezi presentation. This little anecdote says so much about the kind of person Lincoln was, and my students just love having this piece of information to add to all the other stuff about his stance on slavery, his problems with finding a successful general to win the Union's cause, or his political headaches. My kids also love hearing about what all these people they are learning about thought of each other: did Lincoln like Grant? did Washington really prefer the company of Alexander Hamilton to John Adams?
I think our favorite story is that of the great friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson - my kids love to hear about their great falling out, their reconciliation many years later, and the weird coincidence of their death - on the same, historically significant day: July 4th. 1826. Now there is a wonderful picture book that tells this story: Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the true story of and American feud.
Maria at Teaching in the 21st. Century shares how she makes connections with Wonderopolis in her Social Studies classes. Maria also shares how she teaches with a beautiful picturebook - When the Shadbush Blooms.
Linda at Teacherdance shares a post about the geography of place, and how we can begin teaching our students to recognize how important this is in understanding historical events.