Tag Archives: Social Studies

A Creative Strategy to Teach the Love of Writing

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By Zemen Marrugi, M.Ed.

Need a creative way to get your students excited about writing?  Check out my video on a teaching strategy that is sure to improve your students’ writing skills.  Whether you are a classroom teacher, academic specialist, paraprofessional, or a parent looking for ways to enhance your own child’s writing craft, you will benefit from this teaching strategy.

Would You Rather Notebooks give students an opportunity to reflect on the material that is being taught in the classroom and share their opinion on two different scenarios.  Here is how you can implement this teaching strategy in your own classroom:

1) Provide each student with a notebook.  You can use any type of notebook as long as it has line paper in it.

2) Give the students a chance to decorate the cover of the notebook so that they can become excited about writing in the notebook.  Be specifics with what you would like included on the cover.

3) Place the notebook assignment as part of the students regular writing exercise.  I strongly encourage you assign this as a small group or independent work during workshop or stations.  This type of writing exercise is not meant to be taught whole group.  This strategy works best if done one-on-one or independently so that students can work on their own pace through the writing sample.

4) You can cross curriculum and have the students respond to a variety of questions related to all subjects.  Modify accordingly depending on the students’ age and content area.  This teaching strategy does not necessarily have to be used during the Language Arts or Reading block.  Students can write in their ‘Would You Rather’ notebooks during Social Studies and Science.  Ask questions like, “Would you have rather been a soldier during the American Revolutionary War or American Civil War?”  Giving the students an opportunity to reflect on the material you have taught them throughout the year will help you measure exactly how much information they were able to retain.

Share your comments below and provide me with feedback on how you feel about the information on the teaching strategy I shared with you.  Let me know what other videos or strategies you would like to learn more about and I will try my best to provide you with the resources in some of my future blog entries.

A Creative Strategy to Teach the Love of Writing

Blog and video models best practices for creatively incorporating writing in the classroom.

About Zemen Marrugi

Zemen Marrugi is an Assistant Principal and national presenter.  She’s worked as an elementary and middle school teacher and has presented countless workshops on topics like Differentiated Instruction and Creative Classroom Workshop Ideas.

In addition to presenting workshop to elementary/middle school teachers, Marrugi has also presented workshops for college activities personnel at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Association for Student Advancement District 5 Great Lakes Conference and the National Association for Campus Activities Regional and National Conventions. Her experience in the educational world is very broad and includes both private and public sectors.

Marrugi received her Bachelors from Wayne State University in Elementary Education and her Masters from Grand Valley State University in Educational Leadership. She holds a professional teaching certification and a school administrative certification. Marrugi also has an English Language Arts endorsement. Click here for more information on Zemen Marrugi.

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Teaching about the Presidential Elections

By Zemen Marrugi, M.Ed.

Yesterday, I started my Social Studies lesson with the question, “Is there a possibility that a Romney/Biden Administration can get inaugurated in January, 2013? If so, how?” I told the students to pounder on the question and to write their reflection on their papers. I was so impressed with all of the answers my students gave me.

I gave each student a ‘I voted’ sticker after our mock elections in class. They were very proud to voice their opinion and vote for their favorite candidate.

As a class, we have been huge fans of the Presidential Elections. We watched all three Presidential debates and analyzed the candidates’ behavior, response, and debating skills. We discussed the role of the popularity vote and the Electoral College and how the two influence the Presidential Elections. We read magazine articles on the different candidates and compared their tickets. Last year, my students even compared the four remaining Republican candidates and made our predictions on who was going to make it to Tampa, FL in August for the Republican National Convention. We also discussed the possibility of having a split vote in the Electoral College and what would happen if each candidate did receive 269 votes. As a teacher, I was so impressed with my students’ ability to have such educated feedback when so many higher-order thinking questions were tossed at them.

As the campaign trails come to an end, it is very important for educators to bring the role of the elections in the classroom. Having the students watch the debates and discuss them in the classrooms not only brought the curriculum to life, but also increased parental partnership because there were so many households where the parents watched the debates with their children. That powerful classroom that took place in their living rooms made the lessons even more productive because the information was reiterated by their parents and the students took ownership of the information they learned by sharing their opinion.

I have truly enjoyed following this year’s presidential elections with my students and encourage all educators, despite grade level, to always think outside the box when it comes to teaching. When your classes resume tomorrow, talk to your students about your voting experience and ask them questions about their relatives’ voting experience on Election Day. All depending on the age level, you can even discuss the different types of voting ballots from absentee to day of elections. Have a mock election where each student can vote for their favorite candidate. Make it fun, educational, and mostly importantly, relate the curriculum to the role it plays in their everyday lives. Here are some other ideas of how to incorporate the elections into your curriculum.

Lower Elementary

  • Students can color patriotic pages
  • Students can write friendly letters to local, state and federal election winners

Upper Elementary

  • Students can compare the popularity votes between states
  • Students can discuss the role negative advertisements played in the elections

Middle School

  • Students can review all of the different proposals and make predictions on why certain proposals were not passed
  • Students can discuss the role of the Electoral College and how the numbers are allocated between states

High School

  • Students can review a sample voting ballot from their local district and discuss how larger ballots can impact a voter’s frustration at the polls
  • Students can discuss why so much campaigning took place in the Swing States

To answer the question I asked my students yesterday-Yes, a Romney/Biden Administration can get inaugurated in January, 2013. To have this take place, an exact even split of 269 Electoral votes must first go to each candidates. The decision would then be sent to Congress with the Senate deciding on the President and the House of Representative deciding on the Vice-President. This means that the Senate can pick either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, while the House of Representative can pick either Joe Biden or Paul Ryan. This may result in either a Romney/Biden or Obama/Ryan Administration to be inaugurated in January, 2013. My students loved learning about this law

Teaching is always so much fun!

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