This summer semester seemed like the quickest weekend road trip ever! It was most certainly challenging, but it flew by at warp speed. It’s amazing how much I absorbed and how much my thinking changed in that short amount of time.
Before this course, if I had to characterize the topic of Social Studies in one word, I would have said, “Vanilla”. I found the subject interesting, but not very exciting or engaging, and I certainly would not have picked it to teach if given a choice of one subject. What a difference 6 weeks can make. My interest has truly been sparked, and I have come away with so many amazing ideas for making this subject a favorite for my future students. Being exposed to all of the various ways to integrate the arts with social studies has made me a believer in the fact that SS can be engaging and meaningful, and it showed me a way to get them to make connections in order to retain information.
Another wonderful take-away from this course is the idea of “backward design”. In the past, SS often consisted of fun, crafty activities or just single, solitary blobs of information that never truly connected to anything. Using backward design helps you to view standards from the endpoint and say to yourself, “OK, the students need to know this or need to be able to do that. Knowing my students, how can I structure the lessons so that they can be successful?” “What is the true purpose of this lesson; what are they gaining from doing this activity?” If I can’t answer that with a solid response I have no business teaching that lesson or taking the time to have them do a particular activity. The school day is too short to waste on performing meaningless tasks.
Having just found out that I will be in a 4th grade room for my student teaching placement, I am particularly excited about Social Studies – I get to teach North Carolina history! Not being a native, I am going to learn so much, and I will have the opportunity to utilize the amazing resources of the NC History Museum! So, I am moving into a new segment of my incredible journey overflowing with enthusiasm and fantastic ideas – look out North Ridge Elementary, I’m headed your way!