Thursday, June 6, 2013

Managing Social Studies in the Middle School Classroom

I'm going to confess - I love Social Studies.

Rome, Knights, the Black Plague, Silk Road, American Revolution - if it happened in the past, I love it.  I've always enjoyed making this seemingly boring, never-ending story come to life in front of a middle school classroom.  Because if you don't....

Unfortunately?  Social Studies (and Science if you're a cored Math person) get the unlucky shaft in lieu of more Language Arts practice. 

Need an extra 10 minutes to finish a lesson, or that last passage?  Steal it from Social Studies. 

Need some last minute grammar practice because you will literally slap the next student that misuses there or their - steal it from Social Studies.

So, then... suddenly it's February and you're on chapter 7 - of 19 in your book!  If you're like me, you feel bad because the kids aren't going to get that whole picture.  Why did people travel to the Americas?  Beats me!  I last learned about the Plague!  Most of Europe was dead, right?

I do my best to get my students through 1,500 years of history from the Fall of Rome to the Age of Exploration.  It's hard, to handle more pages of work being turned in, on top of all the Language Arts papers you are already receiving. 

A few years back, I discovered that the best way to handle Social Studies - was to assign all the work in a packet.  The packet format allowed me to give my students their work, but not collect it on a daily basis. 

This is what my packet cover page looks like:

Nothing super fancy on the sheet, but it gets the job done.  What I like about these packets?  
  • All my students notes, that we complete together, go into them.
  • We practice several note taking styles, including cornell and outline notes.
  • If I want to add the chapter questions at the end of each section, I can, but I don't have to.
  • I can be creative for the vocabulary (think foldables) or mean, if I have to (think silence and definition copying).
  • The packet can be used to take their tests - giving them extra confidence.  Most middle schoolers at this point, have NO IDEA how to study for book tests, what's important, etc.  This gives them a boost.
  • I can add 1-2 fun activities for each chapter.  Break out the crayons because I think we all need it.
  • It helps the students keep track of their work and be responsible to hold on to some papers for a period of time.  Also, they can keep track of what's finished with the Done column.


  1. Great idea. I'm an ELA teacher that will be integrating SS next year and this sounds perfect for me. Thanks for sharing. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. No problem! I've found that it really works for me in the classroom and makes my life a little bit easier! :)


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