I also have tournaments set up for those of you who teach world history and have one that focuses on scientists and inventors, too. These could be a great way to use as an interdisciplinary unit between social studies and science or ELA.
How I conduct my American History Tournament of Champions is by first presenting this information to students during March Madness even though we won’t have out tournament until the end of the year. This gives students plenty of time to conduct their research so there isn’t so much pressure. It also gives them something to look forward to and allows you to have something for them to work on if you have a lesson that left you with some time at the end of class.
Students typically work in pairs and choose a person/group/invention/event from the list provided, conduct research, and then write speeches to try and advance their topic to the next round. Everything is laid out in the instructions!
I sweeten the tournament by showing students the following prizes for making it through the different levels of the bracket:
This year, I'll explain to my students how I normally would run the tournament pre-COVID and see if I can get some student-helpers to figure out how we can do this with some students virtual and some students in person. Plus, they are usually way better with technology strategies than I am!
I hope you enjoy one of these tournaments with your own students, too
All the best,
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies
I just wanted to let everyone know that my entire store will be 20% off today (9/7/2020) in celebration of Labor Day. Lots of digital resources to choose from as seen below.
Enjoy the day (and the sale)!
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies
So, how does Murder, She Wrote fit into a history class? The answer is – perfectly! We start with the basics in my history class… fact, opinion, inference, and corroboration. We could go through a boring PowerPoint in that first week defining all of those terms, do a formative assessment where I can see if they understand the difference, blah, blah, blah… that’s not my style. I want these kids to get into the mindset of history, have fun while they’re at school, and do activities that will trick them into learning. Angela Lansbury comes through with Murder, She Wrote and never lets me down.
So, many years ago I thought, how can I make this… not boring. It just so happened my daughters were little… watching Beauty and the Beast… and I heard the voice of Mrs. Potts. I was like, “Oh my gosh… I know that voice, but how? It’s the Murder, She Wrote lady!” This was way before Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and YouTube. I went to the public library… sure enough… they had the whole series. I knew I needed to give it a try.
I went to work that Saturday and put the video in… took pictures of all the characters… and the rest, as they say, is history. It honestly wouldn’t matter which episode you use. If you want to use the one from this example.... it is called Coal Miner's Slaughter. I've used many different ones over the years, but this is a surefire hit. Murder, She Wrote is available on Amazon Prime. I, of course, recommend viewing the episode before you use it so you know when to stop.
If you use Coal Miner's Slaughter... I stop at 16.51 for Inference #1 (then you can burn through the advertisements with the projector and sound off). This is where you'll ask students to share their facts, opinions, and inferences. I then stop again at 33.04 for Inference #2... and ask for facts, opinions, and inferences. Finally, I stop again at 41:35 (this is critical! When the phone line is cut...STOP!) This is where students make inference #3 and I ask questions using the same tactics as before. It's fun to say, "OK, well...let's finish this tomorrow" and you'll hear a "NOOOOOO!!!" in unison, which is always fun.
Once they learn who did it there's a lot of fun conversations in class. I promise you, no matter what you do for the rest of the year... you can always refer back to this lesson and the terms fact, opinion, inference, and corroboration. This is the sheet I give students. You can make the same for yourself by just playing whichever episode you'd like to use and take pictures of each character.
It really is a lot of fun and a great way to get the kids involved right away!
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies
Don't forget to keep your students safe by having them come up one at a time for help this year! Works like a charm! Just click on the image.
It's nice having resources that I can use as an extension to what we are learning about in class. For example, right now we are learning about Manifest Destiny in our history class and students were introduced to President James K. Polk. They don't hear that name much when it comes to presidents because they've usually only heard of the "big names" such as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and Kennedy. The other day I saw a student flipping open the cards until they found James K. Polk and then read the information on the cover. Then they flipped open the next two president cards to see who came after.
That's exactly what I wanted to have happen with these!
This Presidents of the United States Bulletin Board is available in my TpT store along with the Election Word Wall that will come in handy this fall during election season!
Here's some more interactive social studies bulletin boards I use throughout the year as well as Word Walls I include for the different units I teach. One of the best things is when my student helpers ask if they can take down bulletin boards and put up new ones. That saves me a ton of time and they enjoy the task... or the candy they get for helping :)
Super Tuesday, OPEC and Russia quarreling, oil prices dropping, the Fed cutting interest rates, and more people testing positive for Coronavirus every day…Whew! There’s a lot going on in the world!
ALL of these headlines can be tied into a highly-engaging learning experience for your students through this stock market activity. I have used this activity for years as a classroom competition, but never before have I had a year where there has been so much going on in the world at once that directly impacts the results of this activity!
My goal with this stock market activity isn’t to go too in depth about stocks, corporations, monopolies, CD’s, bonds, mutual funds, or compound interest. My goal is for my students to make connections between issues happening in the world impact businesses and the global economy.
Every student is given $50,000 to invest into 10 different companies using the Nasdaq web site. If students want to work with a partner then the partnership gets $50,000 (they can’t combine their money and start with $100,000).
What’s nice about this activity is that it you have an instant hook of engagement to start class every day by pulling up the NASDAQ web site to see how the market is doing. If you use the Google Drive version you can easily open up and project a student’s stock pics on the screen, copy and past their stock symbols into the NASDAQ site, and then see how their stock picks are doing at that moment. What’s nice about using the NASDAQ site is that stock prices are updated every 7 seconds
I have students look at the 52 week hi/lo of the stock they’d like to buy to see if they are buying their stock at an opportune time. If they like Nike products, then I have them do a search for Nike on the NASDAQ site. If they like binge-watching movies on Netflix, then buy Netflix. This help bridge their personal connection to businesses and how the events of the world impact those businesses, thus impacts their money.
What if they can’t find the stock information of a business they want to invest in? That might happen. Some companies like Chaco, who makes a popular sandal, is not it's only publicly traded company. They are under a "parent company," and their parent company is called Wolverine Worldwide, Inc, and the stock symbol is WWW.
My classroom competition usually runs for a quarter of school (9 weeks) and we see who made the most money at the end of the competition on selling day, which is when students sell every share of stock they have at the going price at that time. What’s nice about this activity is that you don’t have to be good at math or technology because all of the formulas are already created and will calculate the profit or loss for students as seen below.
This really is a lot of fun to do with your students... especially with all that is the news right now! It was interesting asking students why stocks would be down on Super Tuesday and hearing a responses like, "Maybe people are waiting to spend their money until they know who might be a possible president." Then we saw stocks go up a bit on Wednesday to see if that idea played out. Sure enough, it did. Then hearing more stories as the week went about about the Coronavirus, then watching CNN 10 and hearing about Russia and OPEC being at odds causing oil prices to tumble and seeing what that did to the rest of the market. I love that this resource gets kids talking about the world.
Here's a peek at how the stocks have been performing over the past week that my student teacher and I chose.
Here's what other teachers who used this resource had to say about it...
If you'd like to give this stock market activity a try then just click the image to the left. I'd love to hear how it went for you and your students in the feedback section of the review, or feel free to comment on this post.
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies
That is literally the million dollar question, right? Sometimes when students ask, "Why do we have to do this?" I'll respond with, "Because it might help you earn over a million dollars more in your lifetime than if you don't." Then I start walking away. Within a few seconds I'll hear, "Wait...what?"
...and there's the hook.
I always have these packets printed and ready to go for when this happens:
ll pause class because this is ALWAYS one of the best teachable moments of the year. I'll say to students, "Can we talk about money in your life for a couple of minutes?" (That usually gets their attention.) I might then say something like, "If you didn't have to go to school and could be done today and just start working, would you do it?" Some of the class will say, "YES!" and others will shake their heads, "No."
When I ask, "Why?" I'll often get responses like:
"It just seems like school is such a waste of time. Like, when am I ever going to use algebra in my life anyway?"
"Really, Mr. K, no offense, but I don't know why we have to take a history class if I want to be a mechanic some day."
"I'd still go to school because I want to get a good job when I'm older."
This is when I know the hook has been set and it's time to reel them in. I'll say, "Those are all definitely valid points, and I'd be happy to discuss all of your answers individually, but have any of you ever played The Game of Life?"
[This is when I'm always blown away by how many have played this game that's been around since 1860!] I'll ask a student who has played the game to explain it for others that haven't played it before. Once they're done I'll ask, "In The Game of Life how come some jobs you get pay more than others do?" The typical responses of:
"Some jobs require more skill."
"You have to go to school longer to be able to do certain jobs."
Then I'll ask them if they know what percent of students who start high school in the USA will finish. I'll take a number of guesses and then write on the board, "85%," and then let them know that the flip side of that means that 15 out of every 100 students in the USA who start high school choose not to finish for a variety of reasons. I'll add to that, "When I think about those 15/100 I often wonder if anyone has showed them what I'm going to show you. Want to see?"
This is where there's a resounding, "Yes!"
I'll select some students to hand a packet to each of their classmates. Once they have one I'll say, "Yes, yes, yes... I know... this looks like just another packet of homework that you've seen a million times in your life. The only difference is... you don't have to do it. It matters to me, but it also doesn't matter to me if it doesn't matter to you. What I can tell you though is the information inside of here might actually change your life. So let's start... but you'll want to get your calculators out because this is YOUR money we're going to be talking about here so I don't want you to miss out on some money."
As students begin to look through the packet I find it amazing how many students that don't normally dive into schoolwork actually dive into this.
You'll need computers, calculators, and need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions and help students double check their math because they want to know if they've got it right. That's a good thing.
As you move through the activity with your students you'll realize that you're doing something that really matters to them. I love that.
I've encouraged students to build upon their skill set my entire career. It doesn't matter to me if a student wants to be a surgeon, a welder, a police officer, a teacher, a dental hygienist, or a marine biologist. They need skills.
Maybe a four-year institution will provide them with the skill set they need to do what it is they want to do. Maybe it will be a two-year technical college, and maybe it will be something completely different. The main point is that they're seeing the math, money, and dedication behind what it is they want to do. That, too, is a good thing.
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies
For the best deal on my financial literacy activities for middle school students check out my 5-pack of economics resources. Just click on the image to take you to my store on Teachers Pay Teachers!
I love Fridays when we start class by watching CNN 10. If you haven't incorporated this into your weekly schedule, I don't think you'll regret giving it a try!
One of our goals throughout the year is to find connections from the past to the present and what might be happening in the future. CNN 10 helps bring about some great discussions!
There is also a segment called "Ten Second Trivia" where your students will call out loud their guess to the correct answer. Once the answer is revealed, CNN 10 will do a 2-3 minute story about that topic. These trivia/news segments will tie into something that is happening regarding that topic in the news today so your students will see why it is important.
I have two free resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store that connect with CNN 10 that you might find helpful in your own classroom.
The first is "My CNN 10 Journal" that has 180 days of journal entries available for your students. You, of course, wouldn't have to use all 180. Maybe you do one per week, or just use it a few times throughout the year. The additional sheets can just be deleted.
Students will journal about a story that stood out to them from that day's news, a summary of the story, and make inferences about what they think might happen next with the story.
An additional resource that works well with the "My CNN 10 Journal" is an end of the year research project called "The Year in Review." Students will create a booklet that has a variety of stories that happened over their school year such as a worldwide event, national event, local event, something from sports, entertainment, and even a feel-good news story among others.
This is a nice way to end the year with students, and they are also nice booklets to keep year after year so students can see what was going on in the world through the eyes of students that were there before them.
The other free CNN 10 resource I have is the CNN Hero of the Year resource that allows students to look at the Top 10 individuals who CNN has selected to possibly win the $100,000 prize to help aid the charity they are working on. This resource is totally free and will be updated yearly to focus on that specific year's CNN Heroes.
Links to each person's video story are available as well as a persuasive writing assignment for students to choose one of the heroes they would like to see win the top prize.
Instructions are also included for you to create a Google Form survey so your students can see how their hero ranked compared to others in your class/classes.
CNN 10 never disappoints, plus it gives you 10 minutes per class on Fridays to quickly enter grades, fine-tune that lesson you're working on, or take care of the hundreds of things you need to complete as a classroom teacher!
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies
One of my all-time favorite topics in history stemmed from the night of March 5, 1770; The Boston Massacre. There was so much happening around this event, which makes it such a riveting topic for your students. There were colonists feeling as though they were being unfairly taxed, the King of England authorizing a standing army in the American colonies, and a prominent lawyer and patriot, John Adams, voluntarily risking his life, his profession, and his place in history by representing Captain Preston and the British guards who were on trial for murder.
In this lesson your students will view an edited version of the HBO mini-series, John Adams, and will decide the fate of Captain Preston and the British guards by choosing a verdict and completing a CER (Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning) assignment as a final task. CER is probably something you've heard quite a bit of talk about in your district and maybe haven't quite found the right topic to allow your students to try one. Well, here you go!
I teach 50-minute class periods and am able to complete the viewing, and explanation of the CER to my students in one class period. Students then have time to begin their CER before the class period is over and then have time to finish outside of school or during class the next day. Click the image below to get this resource for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
What is nice about using CER in a Social Studies classroom is that this process helps students practice the skill of making a claim that they then support with evidence. We participate in National History Day each year where students create a project about a topic in history following a common theme. For example, the theme for 2020 is "Breaking Barriers." Students will have to develop a thesis and support that thesis with evidence they discover through their research. Using the CER method helps them make the National History Project a little easier for them to back up their thesis.
As a follow-up activity to the Boston Massacre Trial you might be interested in having your students analyze "The Bloody Massacre" by Paul Revere or recreate Revere's iconic image. Click the images below to find these resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies