Concept Maps in the Classroom


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This year I’m trying a new method of introducing, and keeping students familiar with, our course terms and themes. With over 100 terms/themes combined, I thought all summer long about what was the best way to tackle this undertaking.

And then it hit me: concept maps. According to, “a concept map is a type of graphic organizer used to help students organize and represent knowledge of a subject. Concept maps begin with a main idea (or concept) and then branch out to show how that main idea can be broken down into specific topics.”

Running with this idea, I printed all of the first semester terms/themes onto card stock and then jumbled the order in which they occur in US history. Next, I asked students to work in groups to attempt to place these terms/themes into chronological order. By attempting to create their own concept web, students gained a first look at what they’ll be learning over the next few months, and I, as their teacher, gained insight as to who was already familiar with certain terms and who was not (formative assessment).Students will continue to Continue reading


10 Things You May Not Know About The Dust Bowl


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Explore 10 surprising facts about the environmental disaster that ravaged the southern Plains in the 1930s.

1. One monster dust storm reached the Atlantic Ocean. While “black blizzards” constantly menaced Plains states in the 1930s, a massive dust storm 2 miles high traveled 2,000 miles before hitting the East Coast on May 11, 1934. For five hours, a fog of prairie dirt enshrouded landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol, inside which lawmakers were debating a soil conservation bill. For East Coasters, the storm was a mere inconvenience—“Housewives kept busy,” read a New York Times subhead—compared to the tribulations endured by Dust Bowl residents.

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Second Semester Finals


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For the 2016/17 second semester final, students were asked to be creative in order to show their knowledge of the terms we learned. These terms spanned the last 100 years of American history. Although I gave them options for their creativity, some students came up with ideas that I hadn’t thought of, such as creating a puzzle or a board game. On the board game, for example, in order to move forward, a question you might be asked is, “What was one cause for the Great Depression?” Other spaces on the board might say, “You fell in love with a flapper. Move back one space.”

Other students created a short video as a team or composed a poem. Here are a few links to some of these projects.

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