Planning Your Social Studies Unit Part Five: Putting It All Together (& Having Fun)

If you’ve been with me for the last two posts (skills here and content here), you’ve got a calendar full of all the skills and content you need to cover in your Social Studies Unit. Now it’s time for my favorite part: putting everything together. Because for me, it’s all about student engagement and creativity. It’s my chance to ask myself “how can I creativity teach this skill using this content?” And, friend, the possibilities are simply endless!

So take a good, hard look at your calendar and allow the possibilities to form in your mind. Find creative, fun, or interesting ways to pair your content with your skills. If it’s a listening skill, can you have students listen to an audio recording of someone talking about trench foot (always a favorite topic for my sophomores)? If it’s skill related to sequencing events, can you have your students create an Instagram timeline of major events in your unit? If it’s a writing skill, could your students pretend they’re witnessing the Reign of Terror and describe what they see? If it’s a life skill like personal finance, could your students engage in research and plan out their future budget?

As I said, there’s no limit to what interesting lessons you can create when you brainstorm the content paired with the skills. For each day in your unit, go through this process of thinking through the options you have. Then fill in your calendar with concrete lessons or ideas for lessons. This will save you so much time when you’re actually teaching the unit because you’ve already ensured that learning will happen through the previous two calendaring exercises and now you can reduce the decisions your future self will need to make.

So friend, as you continue in your process, here are a few of my favorite ideas and lessons to help get your creative juices flowing:

  • Use interesting projects that cover multiple topics and use several different skills while spanning a week or two of your unit. My favorite projects: Shark Tank for Econ & Cold War “March Madness” for World History.
  • Have students dig into research in the topics of their choice. You can even have them complete a writing assignment at the end. My favorite research assignments: GDP & the Standard of Living for Econ & Holocaust Inquiry Project for World History.
  • Incorporate social media, memes, or other activities that students recognize and already enjoy.
  • Ask students to debate an interesting topic. Key word: interesting. That’s how you get the buy in. My favorite debate: Minimum Wage Debate for Econ.
  • Allow students to listen to a historical podcast or audio recording. I love the podcast Presidential and have my US History students answer critical thinking questions while they listen.
  • Utilize technology like a QR Code Scavenger Hunt or a review game like Kahoot or Quizziz. My favorite Econ final review: QR Codes.
  • Reinforce the foundational principles of a government or economy through end of the world style activities that require critical thinking. My favorite end of the world activity: Zombie Apocalypse Economy.
  • Conduct Socratic Seminars based on a text or research question. Students will practice source analysis, listening, and speaking skills all in one fell swoop. My favorite Econ Socratic Seminar materials here.
  • Let your students get creative as they make their own videos. These videos can be on a plethora of topics and in a variety of styles, but my favorite is when my students research and then become an entrepreneur in their own videos.
  • Forget the magazines and have your students create a digital collage related to your topic using photos they have taken. My favorite collages: Progressive Era Photo Collage for US History & Consumerism Photo Collage for Econ.

Honestly, this is barely scratching the surface of all the possibilities for your classroom. But always come back to this question “how could I make this more fun or relevant or interesting to a teenager?” And have fun with it. That’s the best way I know to ensure your students will enjoy your lessons too.

With love,

Mrs. P



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