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Upper Elementary - Middle School Instructional Strategies

Helping Your Child Learn Geography
This site is designed for parents to gain ideas for activities to use during children's play to informally help them learn more geography--the study of the Earth. Most of the suggestions in this book are geared to children under 10 years of age. The activities and games are organized around five specific themes that help focus their thinking. They are:

  • Where are things located?
  • What makes a place special?
  • What are the relationships among people and places?
  • What are the patterns of movement of people, products, and information?
  • How can the Earth be divided into regions for study?

Five Times Five: Five Activities for Teaching Geography's Five Themes
Here is a list of interesting activities to teach the five Themes of Geography and bring the world to your classroom.

Helping Your Students With Homework
Homework practices vary widely. Some teachers make brilliant assignments that combine learning and pleasure. Others use homework as a routine to provide students with additional practice on important activities. And, unfortunately, some assign "busywork." Homework has long been a mainstay of American education for good reason: it extends time available for learning, and children who spend more time on homework, on average, do better in school. So how can teachers ease homework headaches?

WNet Lesson Plan Template
Here is a handy template to use for developing lessons that incorporate technology in your classroom.

Timelines: Timeless Teaching Tool
Across the grades and across the curriculum, teachers treasure the value of timelines. And all the timeline resources you'll need are right at your fingertips! Included: Activity ideas for teachers of all grades!

Timeline for Planning a Museum Trip
Here is a very useful timeline for planning a museum visit. There are useful tips on administrative tasks, preparatory tasks, designing a curriculum plan, and developing follow-up activities.

Concept Attainment
In the concept attainment strategy, students are presented with a mixed group of examples and non-examples of a concept. By observing these examples, the students discuss and list the attributes of each until they develop a tentative hypothesis (definition) about the concept. This hypothesis is tested by applying it to other examples of the concept. Examples could be symbols, words, passages, pictures or objects. In concept attainment students observe, analyze, classify and infer.

Making Connections Using a Double-Entry Journal While Learning About Cesar Chavez
A majority of students in grades 3-5 need more assistance with comprehension to help them become successful, independent readers. Strategic reading allows students to monitor their own thinking and make connections between texts and their own experiences. Based on the Guided Comprehension Model developed by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen, this lesson introduces students to the comprehension strategy of making connections. Students learn the three types of connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world) using a double-entry journal. They also learn about the life of Cesar Chavez and his work to promote civil rights.

Book Report Alternative: Examining Story Elements Using Story Map Comic Strips
Knowing the elements of a story aids students in their understanding of what is taking place in the book or novel. When students comprehend the story elements of characters, setting, problems, events, and solutions, they become more involved in the story and take a greater interest in details. In this lesson, students use a six-paneled comic strip to create a story map, summarizing a book or story that they've read either as a class or independently. The story strips that result provide a great way to evaluate student's understanding of important events and elements in a novel. The students enjoy the artistic aspect as well!

Book Report Alternative: Writing Resumes for Characters in Historical Fiction
Historical fiction transports its readers back in time through the experiences of the book's characters. Invite your students to engage even more with the characters and setting of historical fiction by helping a character from their reading choose and apply for a job. What would it be like to search for a job in the past? What qualifications would be needed? Students will explore help wanted ads and then draft a resume so their characters can apply for jobs.

Book Report Alternative: Creating Careers for Characters in Historical Fiction
What if one of the characters in the book you've been reading was looking for a job? What is the character qualified to do? What skills and experience could the character bring to a company? All these questions are classroom discussion starters in this lesson plan which bridges technical writing and literary analysis. In this activity, students become characters in a novel or short story they have read and find a job for those characters. In the process, students read fictional works, use Internet resources, read and interpret classified ads, and write application letters and resumes.

Book Report Alternative: Character and Author Business Cards
In the business world, people often exchange business cards when they meet. When this happens, a single 3.5" by 2" card contains all the information that the people share. After returning to the office and looking at that business card again, will the recipient truly remember the person related to the card? Will the words and images on the card help? Will the business card do its job? We can extend this idea to the history-social science/literature classroom by having students make business cards for historical figures, book characters, and authors. When students make business cards they're invited to think symbolically to create a short, simple text that represents the target appropriately—providing a title, relevant images, and other pertinent information. In short, in a very small space, writers have to create a text that will make the figure, character, or author memorable. the Elementary Level
Debates are a staple of middle and high school social studies classes. But have you ever thought about using debates at the lower grades? Education World offers five debate strategies and extra lessons for students of all ages. Included: Debate fairy tale ethics, use four corner and inner/outer circle strategies, more!

History-Social Science Performance Assessment Guides and Rubrics
Here is a set of rubrics to evaluate many types of history-social science activities, products, or projects. There are scoring rubrics for essays, comparisons, maps, interviews, debates, speeches, discussions, timelines, oral reports, etc. These rubrics are a good place to start when creating classroom assessments.

Slip Writing
Slip writing is an excellent strategy that allows students to reflect individually as they brainstorm ideas, which they then share with other group members. The ideas generated by the process are used by students to develop concepts.

Pair Problem Solving
The pair problem solving strategy is not necessarily a lesson in itself, but is more likely to be part of a lesson. In this strategy, students are taught to be metacognitive, or conscious of the mental processing they use. This simple strategy encourages students to describe how they would solve problems. Provision is made for the teacher or peers to observe the processes students use and to provide feedback about those processes. As a result, students acquire a wider range of problem solving strategies.

Cooperative Conflict Resolution
The cooperative conflict resolution strategy is a variation of pair problem solving. It encourages students to see both sides of an argument and can be used as a way to foster discussion of issues. It promotes communication, cooperative problem solving and critical thinking.

Another similar approach to the solving of problems or discussing of issues is the Listen-Think-Pair-Share strategy. Research has shown that allowing children "wait time" for silent thinking after questions are posed, leads children to give more elaborate answers, use more logical arguments to support inferences and give more speculative responses.

Share-Pair Circles
Share-pair circles allows students to work in pairs within larger groups or even in whole class situations on a one to one basis. Among its advantages are that each students is involved and has to contribute, to listen as well as talk and to interact with each other, even those who might not normally choose to work together. The strategy can be used as a lead up to small group work, to develop group roles, cooperation and as a variation to the thinking aloud pair problem solving approach.

Situational Role Play
The situational role play strategy lets children explore issues which concern them, by taking on the role of anyone, who may have some involvement in the area being discussed. It is most effective, when the topic is of vital interest to children and they can draw on their prior knowledge to help them participate in the activity. By using a role, children can safely offer opinions, which aren't directly attributed to them. Children need to look, listen and think carefully, as the teacher models the procedure they need to use, so that they can become involved.

Artifact Analysis
The artifact analysis strategy allows students to move from concrete experience to the formation of abstract generalizations and concepts by using real objects they can examine closely. By studying the objects presented to them, students not only make inferences associated with the items, but also identify the evidence they used to form each inference.

Pyramid Strategy
The pyramid strategy is excellent in analyzing text or other information, such as pictures or real objects and then representing the main ideas visually. It helps students develop more abstract ideas from specific details and makes use of the slip writing strategy.

Create a Graph
The National Center for Education statistics has developed this wonderful resource for teachers to use in helping students understand how graphs are used to report information in magazines and newspapers. This site allows students to instantly create their own visual representations in four different forms of graphs.

Six Questions Mind Map
This simple chart will help visual learners remember the "who, what, when, where, how and why" of historical events.

Building a Classroom Museum
Using Chinese artifacts and art as a model, this is a description of how to set up a classroom museum.

Five Paragraph Essay
Because the five-paragraph essay is a chosen vehicle for measuring a student's writing proficiency, it is essential that each master this patterned format writing. As part of that patterned process, the student needs to develop specific thinking and organizational skills. This site will help the teacher support student success in this form of writing.

Activities to Learn About History as Story
This U.S. Department of Education website gives a wealth of ideas for helping children learn about how history is story, how to find out about their town, how to get the most out of a visit to an historical place or museum, and how to do a rubbing.

Helping Children Learn About History as Time
This U.S. Department of Education site provides many ideas for parents and other adults to help young students learn about history so that they develop a sense of chronology, empathy, and cause and effect.

Graphic Organizers
This website has 12 Graphic Organizers (template samples and teacher directions) from the SCORE Language Arts website. These will assist all students in taking notes and prewriting activities. This is particularly useful with the second language learner and special education populations.

Graphic Organizers
These graphic organizers will help you and your students organize ideas and concepts. These are particularly effective for language learners. Browse this collection of All-Subject graphic organizers including event mapping, folktale problem solving, main ideas/supporting details, and KWL charts.

Document Analysis Worksheets
This is a series of worksheets prepared by the National Archives Digital Classroom that teachers can use to help students decipher the meaning of written historical documents, photos, artifacts, films, posters, cartoons, and maps.

SDAIE Handbook: Techniques, Strategies, and Suggestions for Teachers of LEP and Former LEP Students
This booklet is intended to assist the teachers of English Learners. The information presented consists of background-information and teaching-strategies to facilitate the transition from ELD/ESL and SDAIE/sheltered classes into regular classes. In addition to assisting the instructor of students new to English, these strategies may be successfully used with native English speakers who are experiencing difficulty in achieving in regular classes.

SDAIE Strategies
Select from 60 alphabetically listed learning strategies from Anticipatory Chart to Vocabulary Cards that will help English Learners to succeed in content classrooms.

Teaching Respect for Native Peoples
Here is a brief list of teaching strategies to insure that classroom lessons are sensitive to and respectful of Native Americans.

Effective Storytelling
Here is a set of tips for beginning storytellers. Use this site in conjunction with the Tell a Story site

Creative Writing Process
The Creative Writing Process permits the student author to construct through a series of well planned out stages, a thorough piece of writing that is both organized in its presentation and thorough in its development. Students of history often write poems, short stories, skits and biographical sketches. This process will help guide them in the creation of products of which they will be proud.

Inquiry Strategy
In the inquiry strategy, a puzzling problem is presented to students. They ask questions to gain more information, but only Yes/No responses are given. This requires students to ask more effective questions. The aim of this strategy is to get them to search out and process data, to apply logic to information and to inquire in a disciplined way. The emphasis is on the inquiry process rather than on finding one particular solution to a problem.

Introduction to Teaching Strategies
Here is a table of over 30 different teaching strategies useful to social studies including an agree/disagree matrix, a bio-poem, the five whys, four corners, and scored discussion. To view a detailed description of a particular teaching strategy, its implementation steps and suggested visual organizers, click on the name or pdf image to download a pdf file to your computer.

Nine Types of Adaptation for Differentiating Instruction
This is a brief overview of ways teachers can differentiate instruction by adapting the size of the task, the support provided, the time given, the way input is provided, the level of difficulty, the level of student participation, the type of product the student produces, the goals of the task, and the curriculum used in the learning.

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Resources on the SCORE H/SS pages were evaluated by history/social science leaders in California. Going beyond these links allows student access to unknown material. Each school site is responsible for evaluating resources for appropriateness in the local school community.

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