Monday, May 20, 2013

Putting Memorial Day to Memory

Pin It Now! As a social studies teacher, I see history, citizenship, government, and other facets of the subject being squeezed out of the spotlight as the focus narrows on math and reading achievement. However, I really believe that students have to be able to answer this question in order to be well-informed citizens ready to lead this country and world: "How can we know who we are if we don't know where we've been?"  This question drives my teaching of social studies, and I make sure that when  patriotic holidays like Memorial Day come up, students spend time learning the history of the holiday and why it is important important (and relevant) to their lives today.

One of the pre-assessments I like to use is a short multiple-choice quiz that I administer at the beginning of class to see what students already know. The quiz includes questions about the date of the holiday, why it is celebrated or observed, and how it came to be. I find the quiz to be a good starting point for discussion as well, and often, students come away with new knowledge (and hopefully respect) for those being honored.

Memorial Day Quiz
We also spend time discussing different ways that students can observe the holidays in simple, yet meaningful ways. For example, on Memorial Day, they can go attend a parade in which veterans take part; visit a local cemetery and the graves of veterans; or thank a veteran in their family or one who is a friend. 

Getting students to make personal connections between the past and the present through lessons like these  is so important to effectively teaching social studies. It also helps to answer the question so many social studies teachers get from students, "Why do I have to know this?"

To download these free pre-assessment quizzes I use for Veterans' Day, Presidents' Day, and Memorial Day, click here.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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