So, I’ve taught social studies for going on 7 years. But before that, I taught English. As an English-turned-social-studies-teacher, when I first embarked on the ever daunting world history course, I put an inordinate amount of time and thought into vocabulary.
We all remember it from high school–the social studies vocabulary lists. Remember? It could be 100 words for one unit. The teacher would pass out the list and say, “Okay, define these,” sit back at the desk, and grade papers while sweat dripped down our faces, and we stared at the textbook blankly.
Finally, in unison, we would all dive in. A note would pass slyly around the room. “You do 1-10, I’ll do 11-20,” and so on. We would all flip to the glossary first, the index if that failed, look up our words, and copy them verbatim. That afternoon at lunch or in the quad, we would pass papers around and copy definitions.
The next day, the teacher would collect our papers, place a check at the top, and then spend the rest of the period lecturing while we drew hearts and stars in the margins of our notebook paper, pausing to copy down the random points that might go on the board.
Then there was a quiz on Friday.
Ah, the Friday quiz. We would all say a silent prayer that it was matching, because if it was matching, we could remember that Qin had to do with a dynasty and so did Mauryan, but which was China and which was India?
As a new history teacher, I knew there had to be a better way, but what was it? It took me a couple of years to finally settle on this method:
- A SHORT vocabulary list for each unit that is standards-based.
- Quizlet (if you’ve never been, check out this link to my European Middle Ages Quizlet Page: My Quizlet)
- Summarize the unit, leaving blanks for the students to fill in with the vocabulary words.
- Puzzles! Fun ones–rebus (picture puzzles), anagrams, Limericks, etc….
Get My Notes!