Social Security Lesson Reflection

A Monthly check to you for the rest of your life, beginning when you are 65… (Source)

I did accomplish my goals in presenting the historical thinking skills Social Security lesson adopted from Historical Thinking Matters. We were able to explore two historical thinking skills: close reading and corroboration while exploring some of the history around the development and evolution of Social Security. Two positive outcomes were: (1) I was able to comfortably present the lesson in the allotted time, and (2) my peers were able to share with me, during closure, one or two things they learned from the lesson. 

 I received feedback that spending more time talking about the Social Security Board poster prior to asking students to sketch the poster would be helpful. In retrospect, I wish I had asked the students to come up to the front of the room to explore the poster as there was a lot of text that may not have been legible. I also received feedback regarding the flow and the variety of materials presented. I understood that the variety of materials (poster, video, congressional testimony excerpt) is appealing. I received a positive response regarding the flow of the lesson, as well.  

I learned that there are a lot of very well-crafted materials available that can be adopted to one’s needs or to an allotted time frame and that it is okay to reshape materials in a way that works for you. I also learned that I was more capable than I thought in terms of presenting the lesson and that running ideas by peers is an excellent way to improve my future lessons.  

1920’s Consumer culture

This lesson is a beginning lesson done at the beginning of the unit to introduce the students to advertising and period of consumerism that started to grow in the 1920’s. It is intended for an 8th grade social studies class.

In the lesson, we will be studying and covering actual examples of advertisements that came from the 1920’s and subsequent time periods. They will explore the archives of adds provided as a resource by Duke University. When looking at advertisements and commercialism in this period, there are a couple of key comprehension questions they will be exploring. These questions include: 1.) How they were sold, literally and figuratively, to the American public.  2.) Whom the advertisements targeted, and 3.) What attributes advertisers deemed most valuable: access to information, to entertainment, or to status? Students will also be exploring a short video that goes into further detail about the 1920’s and this period of consumerism.

To start off the lesson, the students will be asked to open a new, blank word document. The teacher will bring up and show the powerpoint, first bringing up the warm-up questions. The students will take five minutes or so to answer the warm up question in the document. We will then take a couple of minutes to share out loud. Next students will watch the short video clip on consumerism in the 1920’s that the teacher will play on the projector. After the video, the class will discuss quickly any observations from the video. Next, the teacher will share their example of the in class practice/product/example the students will be completing to demonstrate their understanding. After sharing the example, the students will then follow the link pasted below here under resources to the Duke archives resources for advertisements. Students will find and choose an advertisement. Once students have chosen an advertisement, they will follow the example provided by the teacher and answer the following three questions about the ad: 1.) How they were sold, literally and figuratively, to the American public.  2.) Whom the advertisements targeted, and 3.) What attributes advertisers deemed most valuable: access to information, to entertainment, or to status? After about 10 minutes, time permitting, students will show their examples. At the end of class, students will email their completed word document they filled out in class to my email:

Resources: (My Ad Example)

Postcards from the Past

“Greetings from the Past!”

For this activity we will be visiting the website I created for my U.S. History class at Wilson High School.

This assignment was designed to build on students’ abilities to perform a close reading of a text. Using a primary source as inspiration, students are free to invent, embellish, and illustrate their interpretations of historical texts. Students were asked to imagine themselves in a specific time and place, along with anything they’d like to describe to family or friends.

Students will need access to the course website to access primary source materials, as well as any notecards, colored pencils, or illustration apps necessary to create a postcard image. Following completion of the assignment, postcards will be displayed for students to view, and to and discuss their interpretations with the class.

Federalist/Anti-Federalist Mini-lesson Reflection

After completing my miniature lesson that was meant to introduce potential middle school students to the topics of federalism and anti-federalism, I have a better idea of things I can do to improve my overall lesson. The purpose of my mini-lesson was to get students more involved in this part of history through participating in a debate where students unknowingly were supporting the views of federalists and anti-federalists. At the end of the lesson, each “side” of the argument was revealed and students were able to see what side of history their political views placed them on. My intention for this mini-lesson was to have students engage with viewpoints that were shared by major historical figures to introduce them on an intended following lesson on federalism and anti-federalism. This activity was mainly student-led (since they developed arguments and debated with one another with little interference from the teacher), which I preferred for this lesson because I felt the students would find more meaning in the material since they were interacting with one another during the whole process.

Largely, I feel as though my lesson was successful in the small setup we had in the classroom. For example, I was lucky enough to have each of my debate teams be of equal size with the students choosing their own side to defend. This, however, is something that is unlikely to happen in a regular classroom setting. One suggestion that I found to be very valuable in improving my lesson would be to divide the class into smaller groups to make a debate more manageable. I feel as though this method of having 4-5 smaller groups developing their arguments then debating with one another has the potential to make my lesson successful in the general education classroom by minimizing the chaos that could potentially ensue with a group of 30+ children debating one another.

Another piece of feedback that I found to be especially valuable was my classmates’ suggestions to provide a printout that summarized the arguments of the federalists and anti-federalists so students would have a resource to refer back to when developing their arguments. This made me realize that it could be inconvenient on both myself and the class if I constantly had to go back and forth on the slideshow to display a specific piece of information. Therefore, I think a printout with bullet points of each side of the argument would make it easier for students to observe the information I give to them.

Finally, after completing my lesson I can also see where the debate itself in my lesson could have been improved by giving the students specific questions that they would be debating before they delivered opening statements. This would give my students the opportunity to develop their argument further based on the questions I gave them. Also, while it did work successfully in the mini-lesson, giving students specific questions may encourage my students to speak (since they will know exactly what is being asked of them) and participate in the debate. I know with my target audience of middle schoolers, getting them to participate can sometimes be a struggle. However, providing them with the “essential questions” for the debate and having them perfect their argument in small groups with peers has the potential to make students more confident in the arguments they produce and make them more likely to share their ideas.

After going through this mini-lesson in class, I feel as though I am clear on the ways it can be improved to the level that I think I would be incorporating a similar lesson with my students when they enter their unit on government. Some of these issues I hadn’t seen through my own development and test-run, so it was extremely useful to have a test run with my classmates and receive feedback on ways I can improve in my lesson moving forward. However, I was also able to see where my lesson was already strong as well, which gave me a little more comfort in my ability to create my own lessons (which will be extremely useful moving forward in my teaching career).