A few years ago I could just sense the restlessness in the room as our year was coming to a close. We had 8 actual days of school left and two of those days were going to be taken up with final exams.
We needed a little friendly competition while I tricked them into reviewing important concepts we covered throughout the year. Then this idea for an American history end of the year activity came to me; The American History Tournament of Champions was born!!
This has been a hit in my classes because it is something that every student is able to do. There is public speaking involved, organization, argumentative writing, persuasion, teamwork, and logic involved. Everything you would want in an American history end of the year activity that doesn't involve you just lecturing on those last days.
Here's how it works. My 5 classes usually consist of 30 students. I have 100 different images and terms taped up in the hallway for my classes to look through based on topics/people/events we've covered. Before we go out to look, I tell the students that they have the option to present on their own, or they work with up to one other person.
I then release students to the hallways for them to look through all of the topics and tell them they should choose 5-10 that they think had the greatest impact on American history. Not that they were necessarily a good thing (example: slavery), but that the impact cannot be ignored. I tell them 5-10 because they will be choosing their topic on a lottery system.
Once all students are back in the room I have students come up to my desk and select a folded up piece of paper in a hat. Each piece of paper has a number between 1-15. Once everyone has their number, I start with number 1 and ask, "What is the topic you will be fighting for to be the champion?" Then I move my way down the line.
I will put the topics on the screen in the tournament bracket in a way that seems like there could be a good argument made either way. Example: George Washington vs. Thomas Jefferson, Cotton vs. Tobacco, The Civil War vs the American Revolution, etc.
Once students see how the bracket board has been laid out, they now not only know who they are competing against, but who the two possibilities are that they would be competing against if they advance to the next round. They end up using their time to divide and conquer, and here's the miracle that came out of this - every student in the room was excited, engaged, and talking about history! I sat back in awe that I was able to make this happen.
How I ran this in my classroom was I set the topics up in a way that would combine students who were stronger speakers with stronger topics with each other. Once both sides shared their informative/persuasive speech, I had students write the name of the topic that they felt had the strongest defense. I know its hard in middle school, but I really emphasized maturity and that they weren't voting for a person, but for the information given.
I set up my tournament so a coin toss determines who speaks first. One side speaks for up to 90 seconds, then the other side speaks for 90 seconds. Then the other side can speak for 60 seconds, and the other side gets to speak for 60 seconds. Then the class applauds for both, I take the ballots, and count up the votes.
At the end of the hour I let the class know who will be moving on in the next round and who they will be competing against. The thoughts these kids have, the discipline they exhibit, and the fun we have talking about history makes this American history end of the year activity a sure-fire way for those kids to come back in the future and see if their topic won again!
You can find this in my Teachers Pay Teachers store as well as one for:
Famous Scientists in History
Have a great end to your year!
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies
So, my first year as a public school teacher I made $26k and change. Seeing my first paycheck as a working professional back then I though I had seriously hit the jackpot! Something you should know is that I didn't grow up in a house with a lot of money. I was a trailer park kid and lived in only one house for a few years that wasn't a rental.
Keep in mind, my parents were good parents, and took care of my sister, and I. However, my Dad's parents suffered very serious health issues early on in the 50's and my Dad's money went to help them the best they could. There were never conversations about retirement, investing, planning for the expenses of college - nothing like that. The one phrase I kept hearing my whole life growing up was, "Matthew, you need to learn a trade skill." That meaning, become a plumber, and electrician, a carpenter - something with benefits and a union. I knew what none of that meant, but it always felt like it was deterring me from going to college. That may be one of the main reasons I went. Typical teenager mentality, right?
Once I made it through college I had $18,000 of student loan debt, got my first job making a teacher salary of $26,000+, and had no idea what to do with my money from my first paycheck. I thought, I should just pay off my student loan, but then realizing I wasn't really getting $26,000+ in pay. There were taxes taken out, and I also had rent, gas, insurance, car repairs, an electric bill, a phone bill, and that pesky nuisance...food. All of this was coming out of that paycheck I thought was a winning lottery ticket.
There was a lot of growing pains over those first few years financially. I needed a plan, and the internet wasn't quite what it is now so I had to ask questions to actual people and figure out a plan. That's when everything started to click for me. I knew that this was just math, that there were variables that could change, and all I needed was a financial road map to follow.
So I made one, and now it is available for you to use!
There is a paper version for those of you who like to calculate your own numbers, and there is also a version available via Google Drive that does the calculations for you.
I've used this with dozens of student teachers over the years and this resource will ALWAYS be free in my TpT store so the newer generation of teachers will always have a resource to use to get them on a path of financial success.
There are also links for a student loan calculator, a retirement calculator, and a first-year teacher salary average by the NEA. Everything they need to get a better grasp on their finances early on in their careers.
From the simplest things like a morning coffee at Starbucks to how much they could have for retirement. It's all included!
I'd like to thank my friends at www.classtag.com for helping me promote this resource for the betterment of our newer teachers coming into the field. This resource also works great if you're not a newer teacher, a teacher at all, or are simply someone who has ever budgeted their money.