Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Eureka Idea: Teaching Social Studies and History BACKWARDS!

I had an amazing idea today. Seriously, I think this is big. Maybe it has been thought of before. Maybe it is currently being taught and I just don't know it, but I think I am on to something BIG!

After the latest events in the world with Bin Laden I realized something.

Something sad.

Something depressing

My middle school students came to class cheering that Bin Laden was killed. This is not sad. What follows is.....

I asked them, "Why are you cheering? Who is he? What did he do?"

They had no replies. They have no idea who he is. My top level students who I am currently teaching actually did not even know what he looked like. They have no connection to 9/11 and did not even realized he was connected and some did not even know what 9/11 was!

Are they dumb? No. They were too young to remember 9/11(which is a sign I am getting old). It is not relevant to them just as world events were not relevant to me growing up.

But, and I mean BUT, students should know these things. With the saturation of media they should know. Why celebrate the death of someone who you have no idea why he was even killed?

This bothered me. It bothered me that they are not aware of world events. So I started thinking(which can be scary) and it hit me.

I know how to teach them. It requires a complete shift in our social studies classrooms.

Teach backwards. Think about it. It makes complete sense.

Start with the question, "Why did we kill Bin Laden?" We begin our research and teaching and lessons starting from this day to discovering why. Most likely at this age we would lead back to 9/11.

So, I would assume then that curiosity would pick up and questions would spawn
  • Why did he blow up the towers?
  • Who was hurt?
  • How did we respond?
These questions would then lead us to move in two directions. Moving forward in time to connect the events of today and moving backwards to find out why 9/11 happened.

Catching my drift?

This would then lead us back to Persian Gulf War, Desert Storm........

I see kids asking more questions than we have time to answer. Along the way they are learning not only history, but politics, how connected the world is, how globally each decision really is, why things are happening today..........

No more listening to "Why are we learning about this?" and responding "Well, in another quarter of lessons you will see that in 300 years time this was important."

This new approach would have students scanning headlines(creating CMP and PLN), making connections each day and connecting the past with today.

What do you think about this idea? I love it!(I should I thought of it) I want to teach social studies again and go against the grain and try this.

I welcome feedback.
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