2018-2019 will be special because it's my first year of teaching more civics than history. In Massachusetts we are in a transitional period between the old standards from 2003 and the new ones that were just approved in June. Starting next September, every Grade 8 social studies should be a civics course with two years of US history following in 9th and 10th grades. Having done quite a lot of work and research with the new standards this summer (as I blogged about earlier), I will pilot the new standards a year early. My content partner will come along for the ride, and several other teachers in the district too.
I have been a history guy for so long that this change pushes me out of the comfort zone. We always did some civics instruction in the middle of the school year, as part of the Constitution Unit in January & February. I'm not completely ignorant, but I am also not a political science expert.
In terms of flipping, what needs to change? So far I have decided to keep my systems: the Need2Know mastery quizzes and some form of summative assessments. Even after absorbing colleagues' ideas from FlipTech East Coast, from reading Crystal Kirch's book, and taking another FLGI course .... I'm still not convinced that an overhaul is necessary or practical for Social Studies. Also, since I am teaching many new lessons and topics it makes sense to keep structures familiar to myself and my support staff.
A few thoughts about the incoming crew, before I get to know them personally:
- 83 students, with class sizes ranging from 19 to 22 ... but I expect more will arrive as the year goes on.
- Only about 10% have familiar last names from past years. That's unusual! A couple years ago, about 1/3 of my caseload were younger siblings of former students. So I think that means I have a lot of eldest and only children, which tends to bring a certain strong personality.
- This grade-level group has a reputation for being obnoxious and difficult as 6th and 7th graders. We'll see how that works out! I suspect that they might thrive (after some practice and modeling) in an active classroom setting.
- I have three classroom aides, and one is a former student from my first year teaching in this building! That's an exciting full-circle development, not quite as dramatic as teaching the child of a former student. I'm not that old yet!
Alright, away I go now for one last golf round of the summer.