School as exciting as an amusement park?



Can this be a reality?

Or better yet…

Should this be a reality?

Truthfully, I don’t have the answer to either of those questions, but I did leave the second Face 2 Face with a clear direction for my action plan this year: how can I make Social Studies (specifically History) a novel, exciting, and entertaining experience for young people? 

A bit of background on my background. While I love learning about History and Geography, my area of expertise is undoubtedly English and Drama. I studied Drama for four years, which by extension, I was also studying literature as well. But for that matter, the study of Theatre is also actually a master course in History, just through the lens of performance. There is no better way to understand what was happening in Russia during the turn of the century than by studying Chekhov!

This said, teaching Grade 7 Social Studies has been a welcome challenge. Last year I feel like I was just getting the hang of everything. This year, with a tiny bit of experience, I feel like I can push myself to try new things. Also, there were times last year where I was getting bored with what I was teaching, so I can imagine my students were just on the verge of poking themselves in the eye with a protractor.

IMG_2072So this past month, I asked myself and my fellow Cohortees how I could make Social Studies as exciting as an amusement part (without the vomiting). It’s not so much that I want to make every class an unbelievable experience (who can sustain that?), but I want to increase the novelty, make my students excited to come to class, surprise them a little each day, and have us all collectively step outside of what we expect school to be like.

The ideas that flowed from my partner @mjohn, as well as the other friends who posted a sticky note fertilized my thinking on the topic and help me narrow my ideas down.

IMG_2071But what I really needed was the space of the winter break to process everything. I don’t know about you, but I have found it really hard to engage in the creative side of teaching when I am just trying to keep my little head above water. We teachers are actually artists and we need the space to process ideas and make our visions a reality.

So that’s just what I did. Cuddled up by the fire of the cottage, I wrote down about 10 different incredible ideas and planned out how I could incorporate them into how I teach History this term.

My current idea: Playing History.

How It Works: Each week we have a class devoted to “Playing History”, which is the amusement park of our learning. We will go on scavenger hunts, walking tours, role plays, re-enactments, play games in character and so on. One class a week will be devoted to the background learning and another class (or half class) will be centred around checking the learning / understanding.

Stay tuned for more about our first Playing History session: a QR Code scavenger hunt!



About the Author
Passionate and curious about technology, smiles, special education, differentiated instruction, forests, graphic novels, accessibility, anti-oppression, and warm beverages. Can often be found laughing with young people and improvising songs on the spot. @teach_tomorrow

3 comments on School as exciting as an amusement park?

  1. Derek Doucet says:

    Nice post Celeste! I know what you mean about needing time to process, my action plan was so vague that I needed to really hone in on what was important. I love your action plan! I think that I could definitely stand to make French more entertaining and one tool that I was hoping to incorporate is Aurasma – remember @lmustard ‘s action plan from last year?! I think if you’re hunting QR Codes, then Aurasma is a very natural next step and talk about dramatic!

    When I used to teach Grade 7 SS, I liked to have them change them one thing, and trace the effects of that one thing to present day. We also did reenactments in the Davisville Park and in the ravine near the cemetery. I loved teaching these subjects at this level, and it didn’t hurt to have @gnichols as an Instructional Leader!

    Looking forward to hearing more about how your action plan plays out!

  2. @ckirsh Can I come for the QR code adventure 🙂

  3. I’m sure this approach will work very well with your students! History can mean so much when it jumps from the page to real life. Are you planning on these adventures being virtual or actual? Do you have access to historical locations close by? I grapple with the same challenges in my business class and I wish I could travel all the time to visit places to see my content in context. I’m curious to see what kinds of adventures you have developed so far!

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