Middle School Social Studies Update

Spring 2016

Spring Is Here!!!

The trees are in bloom and the cars are all gaining a little yellow glow. You are just minutes away from the glorious week known as Spring Break. If End of Quarter testing, an Early Release Day and a full moon aren't the end of us, then blessed rest and regrouping time is just around the corner. Hang in there, friends! You can make it!

As many of you have heard, Andy Kraft will be moving from our Social Studies department to become the new interim Chief Operating Officer of Accountability in the near future. This news has been tough for Melissa and I to process as we face unknown territory ahead, but as the coming of Spring reminds us, change is the one constant in life. JFK said "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." Although the days ahead will be challenging, I have high hopes for the future of our department and for Andy's happiness in his new position.

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6th Grade

Many of you are wrapping up your unit on the civilizations of the Americas or perhaps getting started with Ancient India. As you begin 4th quarter, one of the main focal points for the remaining units is on social structure. In Ancient India we see a structure based on religious beliefs and political power. When you compare that to the social structure created in the feudal systems of Japan and Medieval Europe, you will find a much stronger economic foundation for those systems. It is important for students to not only know the description of the social systems, but to be able to explain them... which means understanding why they are the way they are. Looking forward, if you find yourself crunched for time toward late April, early May, many 6th grade PLTs have discussed the possibility of postponing Japan until after testing. There are many "fun" topics to discuss, but there are very few new ideas that students haven't already been exposed to (isolated geography- Greece, feudal system- Medieval Europe, etc...) If any of you would like help pacing out the remaining two months to get the most bang for your buck, please be in touch. I'll be glad to come to a PLT or meet with you to map out the rest of the year. Enjoy this last quarter- these remaining units are among some of my favorites!
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7th Grade

It's starting to get fun! This more "modern" world history always seems to be much more interesting to students and on those warm spring days, "more interesting" is always helpful! As you all head into Spring Break most of you are wrapping up the inter-war years and are ready to jump into WWII once you return. Remember, in 7th grade, we want to look at the war from a global perspective. You also want to be sure that you are really helping students see the connections between events and to understand the concepts of the objectives rather than just knowing the events that made up WWII. For example, when we talk about alliances and the creation of organizations like NATO and the UN, the objective asks for students to "evaluate the effectiveness of cooperative efforts... among nations." If we only give them the details about these organizations, and never ask them to make a judgement on how effective each one was (justifying their evaluation with proof from text and sources), then we haven't achieved the objective. Be sure as you plan your lessons, to design classroom experiences that will lead students to this level of thinking and understanding. If any of you would like help with planning for these last units, or would like help with pacing for the remaining 2 months, please be in touch. I would be happy to come out and work with you as a PLT or individually.
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8th Grade

Yes we can! We can do it! The end is in sight and as many of you wrap up the Great Depression and move on the Pearl Harbor and WWII, students are likely making many more personal connections to the content. If you haven't already done so, I would suggest that you give your students a pre-assessment on WWII. 7th grade teachers have taught the war from a global perspective, so you will find that many of your students are coming into this unit with a good deal of prior knowledge. Pre-assessing them will allow you to see what they know and save time by not reteaching information that they already have mastered. You will notice that in your unit guide, this unit really focuses on how the war changed things here at home and the final solutions to the war. As I mentioned to 7th grade folks above, remember that the goal for our lessons is for students to achieve the objectives of the Essential Standards. If we only teach the facts about Japanese Internment camps, and never ask students to "evaluate the degree to which democratic ideals are evident in historical documents" or "analyze access to democratic rights and freedoms among various groups" (both of which require that students work with stimulus material- primary sources, informational text, etc...), then we have not achieved the objective. Be sure as you plan your lessons, to design classroom experiences that will lead students to this level of thinking and understanding. If any of you would like help with planning for these last units, or would like help with pacing for the remaining 2 months, please be in touch. I would be happy to come out and work with you as a PLT or individually. ** For those of you doing the Mad City Money simulation, please let me know ASAP if you need help with volunteers. I am glad to come and help, as well as recruit some additional folks if needed.
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WSFCS Middle School Social Studies Teachers are Awesome!!

We appreciate all the hard work that you guys do each day! There are great things happening in classrooms across the district. A few specific celebrations include:
  • Hanes Middle School 8th Grade- These folks hosted our first Mad City Money simulation for this school year and it went wonderfully! Congratulations on a well-planned event and a great experience for our kids!!
  • STAY teachers- What a year it has been for you guys! Many thanks for your hard work willingness to collaborate and your positive attitudes about your students and the job you do each day. Many of you emailed to share how you incorporated some of the new strategies into your classrooms following our last meeting- AWESOME!! We are so thankful to have each of you!
  • Kernersville Middle- You guys have moved out of the box! Well, you guys USED the box (or millions of them) as you incorporated Minecraft into your SS lessons. I heard fabulous things about this, and I am sure that the students will not soon forget those activities.
  • Anna Richardson from NW Middle- Great job on your History Mystery as students attempted to find out what in the world happened to Zimbabwe!

Keep up the great work out there guys!! If you have something fun and exciting planned, let me know. I'd love to come visit your class and help out or observe!

Free Stuff!

You know that if you actually read to the end that there will be rewards!! :) There are four images below. In order to claim your reward, be the first to email me with the image # that you would like. Here are the descriptions for each item:

  1. Half case of copy paper
  2. We the People- Middle School text (set of books)
  3. Half case of copy paper
  4. We the People- Citizens and the Constitution (set of books)
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Help Is Just a Click Away!

Please don't forget that coaching help is available to each and every one of you- all you have to do is ask. I'd love to help you with planning, learning/trying a new strategy, or using your Benchmark/EVAAS data to guide your instruction. Email me (ctuck@wsfcs.k12.nc.us) or use this Coaching Request Google Form to let me know how I can support you and your work in this final quarter.