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Old 08-25-2003, 12:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
high school social studies ideas....

Hey, can any HS students or recent HS grads (or anyone really I guess) help me out.

I'm a new social studies teacher this year. World history, US history, and economics (which I've never taken any classes in).

Do any of you have any favorite history/economics teachers? What types of things did they do? Any memorable class days?

I'm having a hard time making it fun for my classes. Granted the material right now isn't the best (the ancient world, turn of the century US, and foundations of econ), but I'd like to do some more fun projects.

Any ideas??

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Old 08-25-2003, 12:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
Location: Australia
Urgh, history has never been one of my strong points, but you could do things like getting them to act out significant historical events? Or visit some local places that may have historical significance (even if it's only minor).

Sorry I couldn't help more, but good luck with it.
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Old 08-25-2003, 01:11 PM   #3 (permalink)

a good thing that tends to be fun and informative at the same time is doing posters

ie: if you need to rush through a section of the book, or you don't have anything planned for a few classes, assign groups of 4-5 students and assign a section of the book. make them do visuals and stuff

but be sure to make it clear how professional you want it to be. if you don't want people wasting time, make it worth a good amount of points.

however if you want it to be more relaxed, just have the do simple presentations and don't tell them exactly what you're looking for. let them interpret the instructions for themselves and see what you get out of it
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Old 08-25-2003, 02:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
Location: Oregon
My favorite teacher always had an emphasis on people who questionned truth in history and historical leaders/rebels.

We focused on:

America treating Columbus as a hero despite what he did (inspired by Howard Zinn's first chapter in "Peoples History")
The issues that arose from vietnam, MLK, etc.

My history of western civ teacher was absolutely BORING with just lecturing every day. I didn't learn a thing from that guy. The only thing he did that was fun was show Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

My Social Studies teacher made things fun by pretending these events were current... she would get us all in a circle on most things and have us all discuss what WE think of the events... after we studied the facts the night before.

One time I recall we had a simulation where we would enact a fake court-hearing judging these events.

I was Harry Truman defending "my" decision to drop the bombs on Japan. I had to learn why it happened, how it happened. It was pretty hard to try to defend those actions... it really gave me a sense of drama and mystery and intruige.

I think the reason history is boring is because it just seems like stories in a book with photos of things we're not used it. When people hit the astonishoing fact that the people in the book were JUST like you and me, just in a different time... it's astounding.

I love looking at old photos and wondering what that must have been like to live THAT way not my way (computers, work etc)
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Old 08-26-2003, 11:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: NJ (but just for college)
in my AP econ class, the teacher had us make board games that incorporated diff economic choices and such, good times
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Old 08-26-2003, 12:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
thanks guys those are some good ideas ... I'll see what kind of stuff I can swing (trips aren't easy to do at my school I guess, and money for projects is small) ... but these seem cool
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Old 08-26-2003, 01:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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In econ, some of us had to join JA for a project (this wasn't so bad). We also sold stuff to find out about the law of supply and demand. That was fun. For world history, you've got the history channel right? Make the kids watch and report on something on there. There is a world history channel as well, if you have access in school, or tape a show? Real life action is better to get a point across.

For most HS kids, history is boring. I loved and still love everything history related, not a day goes by that I don't fall asleep with the history channel on.
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Old 08-28-2003, 04:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
unfortunately, no our school only lets 3 channels in, usually CNN and maybe a learning channel or something. I don't have cable at home either, though maybe I should change that just to tape stuff off of the History channel... that's a good idea...

Originally posted by absorbentishe
In econ, some of us had to join JA for a project (this wasn't so bad). We also sold stuff to find out about the law of supply and demand. That was fun. For world history, you've got the history channel right? Make the kids watch and report on something on there. There is a world history channel as well, if you have access in school, or tape a show? Real life action is better to get a point across.

For most HS kids, history is boring. I loved and still love everything history related, not a day goes by that I don't fall asleep with the history channel on.
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Old 08-29-2003, 01:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Location: LA
Econ is where you can get the most really cool ideas. One good idea that occurs to me is set up a running economy in your class with fake bucks and fake commodity's. Allow them to fluctuate in value ect. In order to make it interesting give out nominal amounts of grade based on it ( like $100 fakebucks = 1% grade)
Thats all pretty much been done before though if you really want to push the boundary and teach the kids something you could go a little farther.
Call together a few key students after school, and convince them to form a trust. I think after a week or so of having to deal with that most of the students will have a much better concept of what the "oil trust" and the various barons were about. In my personal experience there is nothing like getting shafted to make you learn.

(if I were seting up the economy I would probably have something like the commodity's "rednotes, greennotes, yellownotes, whitenotes and bluenotes" each student may trade in one group of each type of note every day for $1. BUT only $1 a day per student. randomly divide the class into 4 groups then each day give all the students in group one 4 rednotes (it would probably be easier on you if you just gave them 20 a week) group two gets the same number of greennotes, group three yellow, and group four white. Give out blue notes for answering questions in class / doing well on tests/quizzes. make sure you give out enough blue notes to redeem with the rest. When the students seem to have it under control talk to the "red" group, get them to form up a trust and overcharge for trades of red notes. watch the learning fly.)

On a side note, I might be worried about kids beating each other up/ strong-arming each other. (something that goes on in the real world quite a bit as well) Anyway, Thats what I would do, but I think its pretty obvious that I'm more of a game theorist than a teacher of children, but they would have to be pretty dense not to learn something while playing this, particularly if you give hints about what's going on though your choice of lectures. I.e. introduce the trust right about when you get to teach "trustbusters"
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Old 08-29-2003, 07:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
Location: Springfield, VA
Just dont assign loads of busy work.
That is what stands out in my mind about my history classes.
All my teachers would give out like 3 or 4 worksheets a day just to keep us busy. It was so boring and i ended up not doing it and gettin gbad grades.
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
Location: Tempe, AZ
Never really had a history class that I enjoyed, so I can't help you with that.
I actually liked my econ class, not because the subject was that great, but because the teacher made it fairly easy to learn and very interesting. He was in his 50's or so, and had worked in nearly every field imaginable, so he could always come up with many examples and demonstrate economic principles using real-world situations that we were all familiar with.
I would assume the same would apply to history--make it something the kids can relate to somehow, by applying it to the real world.
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Old 08-30-2003, 11:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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well, i'm a history geek, so anything will pretty much whet my appetite, though i had this awesome lecture teacher once, he had a really dry voice, yet somehow was never boring, to anyone, even those who dislike history fell in love with this guy and his methods. so do exactly that. jk. um...dressing up like famous people and giving monologues explaining who you are what you did, etc. kids usually get a kick out of that. or maybe some kind of competition as you learn kind of dealie, like if you're studying westward expansion in the 19th century, set the kids up in groups where their group has a covered wagon they have to get to california and figure out active exploratory stuff that a group can win at, thus moving their wagon further along the trail, trying to get there before everyone else. that might not translate well into high school, seeing as it was my 4th grade teacher who did it, but hey, if i still remember it 9 years later, it must've been pretty rad. giblfiz has a good idea with the economics game, they did it at my school, but it was set up way differently, but everyone totally loved it. um...yeah, that's all i got.
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Old 08-31-2003, 08:16 AM   #13 (permalink)
Location: Handrail, Montana
Teach them about Constitutional Government, Fractional Reserve Banking, what took place on Jekyll Island, Masonry and FreeMasonry, the Tri-Laterateral Commission, CFR, Bilderbergers, Club of Rome, Modern Theoretical Relativism and then, just for kicks, use the book "The Unseen Hand" by A. Ralph Epperson as your text book. I guarantee they won't ever forget your class.
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Old 09-02-2003, 05:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Location: LA
On a more practical note:
How much freedom do you have in selecting what you teach them. I kn ow your not given a totally free hand but around where are the limits.

Thagrastay is probably right, teaching about conspiracy's and shadow powers will probably keep a lot more students awake. The question is are you allowed to?
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Old 09-02-2003, 10:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
i had a great social studies teacher my last year in highschool.. he cracked jokes constantly, usually about students and told many stories about his past.. including a tale of chopping his frozen dog's legs off... yeah... one day he mistakenly asked our class if anyone had eaten beaver before.. we had no choice but to think he was the best teacher ever. i think i might have even learnt something in that class heh..
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Old 09-03-2003, 11:21 AM   #16 (permalink)
Location: Seattle
I love ancient history and like the rest of it pretty well too. My freshman history teacher was one of my favorite teachers. He really brought the ideas alive. Some ideas are reading text from that time and understanding how how all of the areas fit together. There are some crazy stories in Herodotus that are interesting to most people and they position Greece along with what's going on in the rest of the Meditteranean.
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Old 09-03-2003, 11:28 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Location: Manhattan
i like the idea of a little contest at the end of the week.. something that lets people participate in class
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Old 09-04-2003, 10:16 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Location: College
In my economics class (college, but still basic stuff), we did a variation on the usual fake money market idea.

There were 12 buyers and 12 sellers (or however many). Each buyer had a different maximum that they could buy at, and each seller had different fixed costs. The richest buyer had like $400, and the poorest had $320 or $330. They were spaced out at $10 intervals. Like a real economy, the system favors buyers that are willing to spend extra of money, and sellers that can produce at very low costs.

The game took place over 5 rounds, and it showed how an equilibrium price is established. After the first few, it was pretty clear that the market set the price at about $360, meaning the high cost producers couldn't compete, and the low cash buyers couldn't buy.

The remarkable part was that before hand, the professor made a graph of the buyers and sellers, and predicted not only the price, but also the volume of trade that would take place. All it was was a supply curve and a demand curve, but seeing it demonstrated like that was very revealing.
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Old 09-05-2003, 01:06 PM   #19 (permalink)
My marketing teacher had us play a warped version of Monopoly...
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Old 09-08-2003, 04:47 PM   #20 (permalink)
That sounds pretty cool, Scipio... I'm not sure I entirely understanf how it workd, but I like the concept, I'll have to look into it....
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Old 09-08-2003, 04:50 PM   #21 (permalink)
giblfiz, to answer your question I have some pretty wide latitude in what I teach each day ... As long as I cover the curriculum (I don't make the final exam, it's the same for everyone), I can do whatever else I want I think .... but then again, it is my first year so I may be wrong...
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Old 09-08-2003, 05:02 PM   #22 (permalink)
I've never read The Unseen Hand but it looks good, just ordered it from half.com ...

sorry for the repeated posts, I should probabl;y have responded to all at once.

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Old 09-08-2003, 08:32 PM   #23 (permalink)
Grr well I just had a good bit writen and I deleted it somehow.. so I'll try to rewrite it condensed:

This was monstly all World/US history.. I was lucky to have him for both

- Look into Howard Zinn's "Peoples History" My teacher used this as well and tried to stay away from the textbook. In the textbook you will not find such detailed accounts from the days of Columbus.. these are the kinds of things he taught us. Not the common misconceptions. (Columbus is the best example.. there are others though)

- Pissible idea as in projects is to have a lot of debates/
discussions.. if your class is at least a little outgoing. We did this a few times during the year and it was pretty fun (as far as school work goes)

- He had us draw the US without looking at a map. Was interesting to see how bad they were. This lead into learning the states. We did it again afterwards to see the difference. (The first and last ones were not graded=P )

Thats all I can really remember right now.. hope some of it helps. If I can think of anything else i'll post it.

Edit: We also did games like Jeopardy. Splitting up the class into 2 teams and whichever won got a few extra points or a quiz or something. Extra credit will make the kids happy =P stuff like understanding that sometimes people go blank ect. if you see a kid who you know knows what your teaching but somehow does really bad on a test, maybe offer him something he can do to make up some points.. not enough to warrant an A or anything, but sometimes just that little bit makes a difference.

Also.. now and then do a really easy pop quiz that should be like an extra A. Like 10 easy, but important points your trying to teach. Stuff like this and the above makes kids like you more and usually they will get more involved.

And I dont want to sound like I'm telling you how to teach or anything =P these are just some things that My history teach.. and a few others did, that gave them good reputations among the students. It also keeps some kids from cutting your class =P

Good luck
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Last edited by Booboo; 09-08-2003 at 08:45 PM..
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Old 09-08-2003, 09:17 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Location: In the land of ice and snow.
People's History is an excellent, if not really depressing, book

My favorite Econ teacher reminded us every class that current mainstream economic theory doesn't really apply to a lot of things that it is supposed to. i.e. most free markets are actuall competitive oligopolies, etc.
"Let the market handle it" is an economists way of saying "screw the poor"
I suggest you look into a newer theory called post-autistic economics. I could try to explain it, but the site, www.paecon.net, would do it more justice.
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