Social Studies Wednesday: Journaling about history

Social Studies Wednesdays

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!

At the beginning of every school year, as we inch our way through the events of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, I get at least one student who asks: why do we have to even know about all this stuff from so long ago??!!  Granted, the Constitution can be pretty dry “stuff” for sixth graders, and so I try every trick I know to make this unit engaging: movie clips, interactive plays, webquests about historic Philadelphia.  
A few years ago, I decided to try making our Civil War Journal a yearlong process – no longer would we just keep a diary of the Civil War years (the last part of the school year) , but start keeping a “Citizen’s Journal” in September.  After every major event we’d learned about, I’d hand out a prompt to write about:
“You have just heard the Declaration of Independence read out loud in your town square. What are some thoughts you may have about what this will mean for the colonies? For the cause of independence? Are you fearful or hopeful? Why?”

My students could take any perspective or identity they wished for each entry they wrote, and they have loved doing this.  When we shared our entries in class, we were able to explore the way events affect citizens so differently – how events can have  varied impacts depending on one’s social and economic status. This proved to be such a wonderful learning experience that our Citizen’s Journal  has become a regular part of our Social Studies lessons.  My kids love writing them, sharing them and discussing them.
Have you ever tried journaling in Social Studies?  What are some ways in which you have used journal keeping in this content area?

The Round-up:
Linda at Teacherdance shares her thoughts about conducting a research project that the builds upon a “connection between the past & the present, & then speculation about the future.”  As always, when Linda shares an idea, I immediately think about ways I can get going with it in my classroom as well!

5 thoughts on “Social Studies Wednesday: Journaling about history

  1. I've done journaling in a number of ways, Tara, but mostly in finite assignments, like when students studied a specific person & journaled as if they were the person. This yearlong study, since you do history all the year, sounds very engaging. Whenever a student gets to share personal thoughts, I believe they think it matters more. It must be challenging to manage them all the year, but what a good idea! My contribution this time also has some opinion in it, is about the connection between the past & the present, & then speculation about the future. Thanks for doing!

  2. One of the important things about social studies to me is that students must examine the past, learn how things are happening in the present & then be able with evidence, to predict the future. Exactly! This is the focus of whatever I do in Social Studies, the whole point of studying history. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Linda!

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