Is History Dead in Your Classroom?

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“History is philosophy teaching by examples.”

That quote is attributed to the great Athenian general and historian, Thucydides.  We all know the old saying, “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.”  While true, the quote from Thucydides gives that saying true gravity.  History not only teaches us about the past, it teaches us about ourselves.  It teaches us the principle that everything throughout history has a grand purpose and plan laid out by our Creator.

So this bears the question, do you find yourself in a history teaching rut?  Do you find yourself repeating endless lessons without flavor and life?  Do you spend too many days assigning text without context or meaning?

Don’t feel ashamed, we’ve all been there.

I’ve got good news, you can bring history to life immediately.  Allow me to share just a few ideas and a little background on myself.

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The Power of the First Field Trip

Field Trip

The power of a well-planned field trip is immeasurable. While difficult to find that thin line between fun, interesting, and worth-while, when that line is found it can reap huge benefits. 

I am a firm believer in the power of the first month of school field trip. I typically like to make this field trip to be a fun, learning trip that the students can be very excited about.

This year, we went to a state park for our Science class. We took a three-mile hike, worked through a Science lab, had a religion class, and finished by swimming in the lake. The students loved it, and I loved it. 

The benefits we gained from it were more than just a good science class and an incredible environment to teach about God’s creation.

 

Team Building

Some may see hiking and swimming as just fun time on a field trip. I see them as quite the opposite. It is a great opportunity for the students to have fun with one another and build relationships. This is particularly important for junior high students who value relationships so highly. It is even more important in a multi-grade situation. Many of my students have been together for six or seven years. Every year we have new students who enroll in the school. It is important for my students, who are so comfortable with one another, to get to know the new students on a personal level. Activities like this, facilitate those opportunities. I cannot stress this enough. Building these relationships is vital for the culture and climate of your classroom and your school.

 

Family

Field trips, like this day outing, help promote a family atmosphere. Parents love to come on field trips like this one. Parental involvement demonstrates to students that their parents care about their school and more importantly their education.

 

Mental Break

For students and teachers, the school year is long. Field trips help break up the monotony of the school year. It is important not to get in the mid-year doldrums before the first month of school is even over. You will need the energy of your students to stretch into the year as long as possible. The ability to take that first field trip early, gives students a renewed vigor for the beginning of the school year and the challenges that lay ahead.

 

Therefore, if you haven’t already taken that fun field trip to begin the year, I challenge you to do so. Make it an annual tradition to start the year on a high note with a fun, educational field trip.

 

 Field Trip Ideas to Start the Year:

Nature walk at a local park that also has a playground.

Go to a movie! We are going to The Giver in a few weeks once we finish the novel.

Go to an area state park.

Take them to the local zoo where they have to complete a scavenger hunt to help promote team building. Many zoos offer a program that allows for this kind of activity.

Picnic at the park with games and activities that follow.

 

 

If you have any other great ideas for a beginning of the year field trip, please share in the comment section of this post!

Don’t Ever Give Me One Grade Level: The Case for the Multi-Grade Classroom

“Education is understanding relationships.”

Who of you had a teacher that made all the difference in the world for you?  Most successful people had a teacher in their life that made an impact on them.  Why did that teacher make an impact?  Why were they any different than every other teacher?

Inevitably, the relationship that teacher was able to develop with that individual is at the heart of what made them special.  “They cared about me.”  “They took a special interest in my life.”  “They challenged me and pushed me further than I thought possible.”  Those are just a sampling of the responses I’ve heard throughout the years to that question.

First, a little background on me.  I teach in a small WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) school in Friendswood, Texas.  I teach grades 6-8.  I have taught other combinations such as grades 2-5 and 5-8.  I am also the principal of the school.  Now to many, this may sound like a crazy idea.  Its not.  I love my job, I love my calling.  God has blessed our school beyond measure, and has given me a lifetime of memories with the students whom I serve.

I love this job for one, very simple reason.  I am allowed to develop relationships with the students who are in my classroom.  I often hear from prospective parents to our school, “How do all of those grades in one classroom, work?”  The answer is simple.  We are family.  We can push students to whatever level they need to be.  I have 8th graders who have completed Algebra II or Advanced Literature simply because God gave them those talents, and we were able to move them at the level they needed to be moved.

The bigger concept of why it works comes down to what we started with.  Relationships are formed.  What better bond than having a students for three, four, five years at a time?  There is no going through that adjustment period year after year.  There is no having to learn how that individual student learns best year after year.  Through time together, you grow to know one another.

As this blog starts out, I intend to share those stories of relationships with you.  I also intend to share with you thoughts and musings from an imperfect teacher and principal.  I want this to be a community.  A community of educators and parents talking about and pushing one another for the benefit of one group…our students.