This will my eighth year teaching, but only my second year teaching middle school! I am teaching ESL seventh grade social studies in a Level 1 public school on the northwest side of Chicago. Approximately three-quarters of students at this Title I school come from low-income families, but that should not prevent my students from having equal access to resources and receiving a quality education to take them far in life.
The beginning of each school year brings the excitement of new possibilities and new adventures.
My students and I often have deep conversations, and even among my strong classroom management and high expectations, we are able to have a sense of humor and sarcasm. I have formed strong relationships with my students in the past, especially students in my homeroom. We spend so much of our time together laughing. Each personality really is unique and is a valuable asset to the vibe of our classroom. Together, we are able to really go places in our learning!
Unfortunately, social studies is a subject disappearing from more and more schools. In schools where social studies is still being taught, many students find the subject boring, especially the topic of history, because they are unable to relate to it. In junior high, at my new school, we are keeping social studies alive as there is one social studies teacher assigned to each grade. This year, I will be teaching early American History to the seventh grade students. My goal is to make social studies not some dull subject that is taught to fill the time, but rather an arena for teaching students how one historical event caused another together and how they affect us currently.
In order to do this, students have to be able to relate to history and a class set of books like Witch Child will enable students to better access American history through engaging fiction.
My students come from diverse backgrounds, but reading Witch Child will help them see themselves as main character Mary Newbury, similar in age to them, as she witnesses the Witch Trials firsthand. The story is told in diary format, lending itself to a perfect companion reading response writing activity--diary writing. Students will put themselves in Mary's shoes as they write about their life during the Witch Trials. They will use their knowledge of the Witch Trials acquired through Witch Child, their textbook, and supplemental course materials to simulate a mock Witch Trial and experience how the judicial system worked during this time in history. Ultimately, students will realize how themes of the Witch Trial persist today.
It is my hope that, as we cover the Salem Witch Trials early in the school year, students will be cast under the spell of American history.
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