Singin’ the Praises of Social Studies!

I honestly love how the internet has allowed teachers to flourish as they grow and get to know each other! Today I am pleased to share a guest post from Andrea Runnels with Running Things From Runnels.  Check out her story!
“Imagine the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, a trip to Disney World, and Christmas morning all rolled into one!! Well, that’s exactly how I feel every day when I get to teach my very favorite subject. You guessed it: Social Studies!! Hi! I’m Andrea Runnels, aka Running Things with Runnels, a 5th grade teacher in Lawrenceville, GA. I’m also a Teachers Pay Teachers seller but I would much rather promote my love of American history than push my products on you! Of course, I won’t complain if you take a look.
Ok, true confession here. I do teach SCIENCE along with Social Studies but I’d much rather share my enthusiasm for my true love. Let’s face it people. Bill Nye is a pretty rockin’ PR rep already. I did have to factor both subjects into my room design so I did leave a smidge of a space uncovered!! I believe in incorporating lots of literacy into content areas so I organized my classroom library by time periods/subjects this year so it’s easy to find great read-alouds. I strongly feel like using historical fiction and biographies in Social Studies helps bring the people of the past to life. I love Patricia Polacco and use her books whenever I can! Great 2-for-1 special with teachable moments about her phenomenal descriptive writing style along with the history!
I also kind of made my walls a huge informal photo gallery/word wall/time-line of eras starting with The Civil War and circling back to The Civil Rights movement so I can preview and review during the year. It is so important to help build academic language when you work with a large population of English Language Learners like I do. I love incorporating music and movement into instruction as well. If you aren’t using, I command you to run, not walk, to the site and sign up for a free trial! You won’t regret it! The songs make instruction more engaging and serve as great memory cues. Along with video clips, I use Whole Brain Teaching strategies. My favorite is “Mirror.” This is where students “mirror” you as you demonstrate hand motions that go along with your content as another memory trick! Be creative! I just make them up! Students love being able to help come up with the movements, too! I let my class do that for The Bill of Rights last year and they loved it!
Speaking of movement, have you tried Readers’ Theatre (I like the fancy spelling) in content areas? What a great way to sneak in some fluency practice and have your students really get inside the minds of people in history! I like to have the scripts available as a learning station (fancy name for a center). My students do really well working cooperatively and they learn so much from each other in small groups. I love hearing the discussions that pop up! And then they start with the questions for me! I love, love, love it when they ask question after question in SS. That shows me they are hooked because they want to know more.
This is the first year we have been departmentalized so I’m still trying to work out different structures for stations. Sometimes I do 5 rotations, with one being Science and I just kind of float. I’ve also done something very similar to how I did Guided Math: guided group with teacher, independent activity (usually incorporating technology), and then a partner or small group activity. I incorporate a lot of task lists and choice boards, too because I like to try to differentiate for all types of learners. It’s a great way to have your kids showcase their creativity and talents!
Honestly, I could probably go on all day discussing how I do Social Studies. I say I’m going to do quick Periscope broadcasts and I end up taking 30 minutes!! This is kind of just a sneak peek into my history nerd world! My best advice when it comes to Social Studies instruction is to let that textbook sit on the shelf and collect dust or use it as an encyclopedia for station research. Don’t just stick to the curriculum. Go beyond it and tell your kids about interesting articles you’ve found, especially stories of culturally diverse men and women, because it will really mean a lot to your students. Use the past to inspire their future! Thank you so much to Dawn from Social Studies Success for allowing me to have this opportunity to guest post!”
Sincerely a Social Studies Supporter,


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