Teaching and Learning History - 020216

Classroom Applications

Four Ways to
Make Classroom Management
Rich in Historic Content

By Beth Scarbrough
Elementary School Teacher
NCHE Board Chair-Elect

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from an NCHE professional development colloquium is that every aspect of my classroom could be (and should be) content rich. Here are four ideas to add a little purposeful content to managing your class.

1.  Timeline Bulletin Board
One of my favorites! At the beginning of every year I sit in teacher meetings and listen to my principal prep us for the year ahead. Without fail, one of her directives is to keep our bulletin boards fresh, current, and full of student work. With the timeline bulletin board you can do all three in an easy, meaningful way.
At the end of each unit, make a list with your class of the events/people about which they learned. When you have more ideas than students, let them pick one to do for a timeline piece.
I use a half-sheet of 8 ½ x 11 white paper for each student. Each piece includes the title of the event, the year, a picture, and 2-3 sentences describing the event.
Place the events on the bulletin board in chronological order and you have a wonderful, student created timeline which can be referred to as your studies continue and added to as the school year progresses.

2.  Pick a Stick
This is a great way to be sure that you call on all of your students rather than just the vocal few.
Do an overview of the upcoming content and let each student choose a person or place that looks interesting. Pass out craft sticks and let them get creative! My students chose a colony or colonial leader to make a personal craft stick. Put them all in a container filled with rice or beans so they will stand up. Use them to call on students during your colonial study. At the beginning of the next unit, make new craft sticks with the new material. Not only does it increase classroom participation, but students also get involved in the content from the beginning.

3.  Morning Routine
Every morning we must take attendance and find out who is buying lunch – let’s make this content-rich too! Depending on what you are studying for the year, find small pictures of flags that enhance your studies. For example, state history: find all the variations of flags your state has used; world studies: find flags of all the countries you will study; American history: find all the colonial or state flags. Make the flag no bigger than a business card (2x3), let students color, write their name in black sharpie, and laminate. At the beginning of the year, create three flag poles and one flag closet. Each morning, students move their flag from the closet to their lunch choice (#1, #2, brought lunch). At the end of each day, one student takes down the flags and returns them to the flag closet.

4.  Bathroom/Hall Passes
Pick two or more people from the time period you are studying, find a picture of him or her, add 2-3 sentences about the person on the back, laminate them, and use them as your hall and/or bathroom passes. For February I chose Mary McLeod Bethune and Frederick Douglass.
Look at your classroom management strategies. I’ll bet you can find ways to make them content-rich and keep history prominent in your classroom!
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