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Handed out your syllabus, completed a few icebreakers, now what?
Building community and purpose in your U.S. History or American Government / Civics class is crucial that first week back to school. Here are 7 tried-and-true activities to open your year strong and make thematic connections back throughout the year!
By the end of these activities, your students will have:
- Assessed their incoming perceptions and understanding of various concepts like "the American dream," "citizen," and "democracy"
- Taken the official U.S. Naturalization (Citizenship) Test and self-reflected on their performance
- Developed a deeply personal SMART Goal and plan of action for the year
- Brainstormed and reflected on core American values in modern life
- Assessed the role of American values in current controversial topics
- Analyzed argumentative writing and point of view
- Reflected on a wide spectrum of ideas about what citizenship really means
You’ll want this no prep, no nonsense set of 7 activities that each function as either stand-alones or in concert with each other for your middle or high school course.
So many uses, including:
- Complete a few in your US History class and a few others in your American Government class
- Try out a few to kick off this semester, save a few to try next semester
- Tuck a few of these away as emergency sub-plans
Updated for 2018-2019 school year to be relevant and timely for this year's classroom with lessons involving current activism on issues of race relations and school shootings.
Greatness is starting with the big picture in mind.
Before diving into the 13 colonies or 3 branches of government, pique your student’s curiosity, connect to their incoming knowledge, and set the stage for the larger themes of America so that you can return back and “rehook” students' greater understanding to these big ideas throughout the year.
Included in this Activity 7-Pack:
- Detailed overview and lesson plans, fully Common Core standards-aligned step-by-step teacher directions
- Concept Definitions to dive into the nuanced meaning of basic terms like "democracy" and "American dream"
- Interactive Speed Dating to analyze and reflect on various quotes on the meaning of citizenship
- Speech Analysis to hear, watch, and annotate an impassioned argument about American values in regards to race relations today
- Editorial Analysis to interact with classmates and written editorials on student activism throughout history and in modern times
- Civics section of the U.S. Naturalization Test to really see how “citizenship ready” your students are
- American Values discussion of current day America
- SMART Goal and Action Plan to conduct a self-inventory and develop a personal vision for the year
These activities will introduce both your U.S. History or American Government / Civics courses at either the middle school or high school level!
Feel free to mix and match according to time constraints and students’ interests!
Want more ways to start this year off great?
Deliver Captivating Lessons: hook students Day 1 through Test Day
Facilitate Engaging Activities: teach everything from vocabulary to nonverbal to small group
Motivational, Growth Mindset, Goal Setting Posters: inspire greatness with this 42-pack of weekly posters
U.S. History PBL Unit: Who Founded America’s Values?: honor those who truly established America
- How do I Accomplish a SMART Goal?: mini-unit project version of this unit
Civics PBL Unit: Citizenship Test & Op-Ed Essay Research Project course long test series and essay unit
- U.S. Citizenship 4-Part Test Bundle: mini-unit test series of this unit