Category Archives: Social Studies

Lesson plans that use the high school social studies curriculum to build literacy and learning skills.

Cultural Literacy: Tabula Rasa

On a chilly Wednesday morning, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on tabula rasa, which is an educational and epistemological concept from John Locke.

So I must ask: do students arrive in our classrooms as blank slates, as Locke claimed, or do they have basic cognitive frameworks for understanding the world? I imagine that entire academic careers may still depend on the discourses this question raises.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Alexander Hamilton

OK, before I take my much-deserved leave of this institution this afternoon, here is a reading on Alexander Hamilton with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

George Jean Nathan on Patriotism

“Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.”

George Jean Nathan

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

The Weekly Text, January 24, 2019

On January 6, I published 56 documents for teaching Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece Things Fall Apart.  In last week’s Text, I published a similar set of documents for teaching Elie Wiesel’s Night.

This week’s Text is a batch of documents for teaching William Golding’s Lord of the FliesI wrote these materials, but never marshalled them into a coherent unit plan, over a two-year period beginning a little over 12 years ago; after that, I never used them again, so it has been about ten years since I laid eyes on this stuff. In any case, let’s get these documents uploaded into this post.

Because I was working in global studies and United States history classrooms at the the same time that I was co-teaching the English class dealing with this novel, I perceived instantly that Golding’s novel was Thomas Hobbes’s “state of nature” nightmare, where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” For that reason, I asked the English teacher with whom I was teaching to make an explicit connection between Hobbes and Lord of the Flies. To that end, here is a reading on Hobbes and its (extended, you’ll notice, if you’ve previously picked up these things from Mark’s Text Terminal) accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. I also wrote, to follow up on students’ understanding of the Hobbesian dystopia depicted in Lord of the Flies, this independent practice worksheet that I suspect I would have assigned at about the middle of the novel. The reading and worksheet above began the unit, I’m quite sure.

Next, here are 12 context clues worksheets–one for each chapter. I’m not sure why I compiled this complete vocabulary list for the novel, let alone kept it around. Perhaps I intended them as a learning support? I just don’t remember. I have learned the hard way not to throw away work, no matter how pointless or useless it appears at second glance, so that explains that document’s presence here.

These 12 comprehension worksheets drive a basic understanding of Lord of the Flies and its allegory.

Finally, here are three quizzes on the novel. You will note that these are numbered 2, 3, and 4. If there was ever a number 1, it is lost to time. Also, these aren’t exactly some of my best work, and may well reflect my contempt for my co-teacher’s (and the administrator under whom we served) insistence on quizzes as an assessment tool. I vastly prefer expository writing–i.e. papers–as a means of assessing understanding.

And that’s it. Every document in this post is in Microsoft Word, so these are documents you can manipulate for your own–and your students’–needs.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Situationism

“Situationism: The Situationist International was founded in 1957 with the merging of three European avant-garde literary and artistic groups. With roots in Dada’s assault on bourgeois sensibilities, the situationist movement emerged in Western Europe primarily in the 1960s. The situationists were highly politicized and theoretical, seeking, in their writings and art, to bring back meaningful social interactions to members of a depoliticized consumer society. Some artworks, such as paintings larger than buildings, blurred the boundaries between art forms. Others were altered reproductions of famous works, prefacing the reappropriated works of the 1980s and 1990s. The movement’s influence provided a theoretical base for students involved in the French general strike of 1968.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Bruno Bettelheim

Bruno Bettelheim: (1903-1990) Austrian-born American psychologist, educator, and author, Bettelheim came to the U.S. in 1939 as a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. Drawing from this experience, he wrote the widely read and influential study Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations (1943). He is best known, however, for his psychiatric work with severely disturbed children and its application to the study and education of normal children. Love Is Not Enough (1950), addressed to parents and a general readership, describes his work in his Orthogenic School for emotionally disturbed children and outlines means for meeting both children’s and parents’ needs in the modern family situation. Among his many other books are The Children of the Dream (1969), about communal childbearing in the kibbutz; A Home for the Heart (1974); and The Uses of Enchantment (1976), in which he discusses the psycho-social importance of fairy tales. Surviving and Other Essays (1979) contains diverse essays on problems in American society, on surviving under extreme duress, and on childhood schizophrenia. Freud and Man’s Soul was published in 1983, and Freud’s Vienna and Other Essays appeared in the year of his death.

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

A Lesson Plan on Birth Control

OK, moving right along, here is a lesson plan on birth control. You’ll need its short reading and its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet to conduct the lesson. If you want slightly longer versions of the reading and worksheet, they’re under that hyperlink.

These materials have been of high interest to the high school students I’ve served over the years.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.