Since I don't teach summer school, I have never thought about the teaching choices I would make about independence Day, but it is a similar reflection to other units and currents events. Now, with the Common Core I have a new spin when thinking about content. What should students know and be able to do to be college and career ready ? I think about what the holiday SHOULD mean and what in practicality it does mean. I also ran across a few great resources on Edutopia this week which I would like to incorporate in this Blog post.
A basic premise of my personal teaching philosophy is that I am going to give students something to start with... A lecture, a movie, a photo, a primary resource, a question or problem to solve. And they are going to have to expand on it. One way I keep track of their expansions is in an Interactive notebook. Here is a link explaining this concept fully : https://interactive-notebooks.wikispaces.com/ ( I also teach a course on using them) . So part of what I do, is think of what I can give, share, plan start with, and also ways students can expand on these concepts.
Edutopia had a post about Independence day http://www.edutopia.org/blog/fourth-of-july-resources-matt-davis and it made me realize that even though younger students traditionally make crafts, I have adult friends who take a lot of pride in decorating their homes and organizing parties and events to commemorate the holiday. Think of all the math that goes into planning a party ? hmm interesting. Also my Science friends probably are really jazzed up about the pyrotechnic aspects of fireworks another traditional aspect of a July 4th celebration. Of course as a history teacher the big idea of July 4th is our historical fight for independence. I read an incredible book this week by Jack Levin http://www.amazon.com/George-Washington-Crossing-Jack-Levin/dp/1476731934 It is a short but very visual and detailed account of the battle of Trenton.
Another note about having students, particularly younger ones, have to interpret world events was addressed in another Edutopia Blog this week. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-integrity-age-of-cynicism-mark-phillips As a Geography and World events teacher, countries gaining, fighting for and winning or losing Independence is a constant theme. Often times it is difficult to judge the groups fighting, but this blog does a good job of helping to keep a positive and fair attitude.
Finally, I just wanted to mention a really cool bit of technology that I think could enhance all of these concepts including my interactive notebook concept as well as things about a holiday or a big unit or theme like independence. Augmented Reality http://theteachingpalette.com/2013/06/29/augmented-reality-using-aurasma/. Using this Aurasma App students take a still picture and similar to the QR codes on a smartphone they connect to additional content. But the coolest part is having the students THEMSELVES create the link to the content.
I feel like Goldilocks when I am blogging, first not enough content, then too much. Don't worry eventually I will get it just right!