Welcome to Social Studies Wednesday! I hope you will stop by to share ideas and resources for teaching Social Studies. Please comment and leave a link to your post, I’ll check in and round up contributions throughout the day. If you don’t have a link to share, please leave a comment about the posts in the round up. It’s always good to hear your feedback!
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.
Written by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain and illustrated by Larry Day, Worst of Friends tells the story of this friendship with charming, humorous details; and the admiration and affection these two men had for each other, in spite of their differences, is quite evident. This telling of “the true story of how two fickle founding fathers put aside their differences in the name of friendship,” is one I will definitely use next year. It would tie in nicely with the following clip from HBO’s “John Adams”, which shows key moments in their friendship and their eventual disagreements :
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.