Primarily Useful: Interactive Notebooks, Primary Sources, and Rethinking Units

A week and a half and the honeymoon’s already over. The students are getting comfortable, and their true personalities have emerged. I’m okay with that, though. This is when it gets interesting.

Not one of my sociology students was prepared for the test today, I realized, as we were playing the review game. It was time to check my type A at the door and roll with the punches. I stopped the game and assigned each group a concept and a sociological theorist to research and present to the class. We’re taking the test tomorrow.

In a situation like that, I’m conflicted. They knew the test was today. They should have been prepared. Do I really want to set the precedent of giving into their slacking ways?

But I really want them to understand the material. And sociological jargon and theory can be overwhelming to high school students at first. So I gave in. I had to think that if they were that lost at this point, I had slipped up somewhere. I will revise my first unit to include more formative assessment and review. I’m also going to work on strengthening my vocabulary reinforcement in this course like I did for the unit on culture below. It includes:

– Table of Contents
– Ideas for Implementation and Differentiation
– My Quizlet Link
– Vocabulary List and Definitions
– Vocabulary Activity with YouTube Video Link
– Vocabulary Puzzles (Rebus [Picture] Puzzles, Anagrams, and Limericks [Riddles]
– Answer Key
– A Quiz
– Answer Key

Sociology Culture Vocabulary Unit
Buy it HERE

 The honeymoon’s over in my world history classes, as well. But the Interactive Notebook format is working amazingly well.

The thing is, at this point, I’m used to feigned interest falling away and materials being left on kitchen counters (but never their smart phones). This is the point when I say, “Take out your notes on India,” and several of them stare at me blankly, while I cut short excuses for why they don’t have them.

They’re talking more, as usual, and getting bolder in their behavior, but in a week and a half, only one student has forgotten his notebook, and that was only once. There have been no missing papers at all. I am sold on the Interactive Notebook. The students own these, and they like them. WOW.

The biggest success of the Interactive Notebook is how it builds on itself. It makes organization and referring back to things simple. I’m offering a part of it–Analyzing Primary Sources. It includes:

– Primary vs. Secondary Sources PowerPoint
– Cloze Notes to go along with the PowerPoint
– Group Activity: Telling the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Sources
– APPARTS Primary Document Analysis Foldable 

We use this throughout the entire course to analyze documents. Its a real time saver, and it gets the students used to working with primary sources.

Primary Source Analysis
Get it HERE

Have you ever thought all was well only to discover that your students were completely clueless? Leave a comment below to let me know how you dealt with it.

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