Teaching without a Textbook

My first year of teaching is almost over and I cannot believe how fast it went by. At the beginning of the year I used the textbooks extensively, but after about a month I knew I needed to switch it up – and not just for the kids’ sake, but my own. What follows is hardly exhaustive, and I will update this more extensively in the future.

Disclaimers and such: I teach 7/8 Social Studies in Ohio. I chose these resources specifically to cover those standards, which can be found here (PDF file). I also modified or selected just a sample of each resource to use and combined it with my own assignments or materials.

Mr. Roughton – this site is full of social studies materials perfectly tailored to middle school students and it includes pretty much an entire year’s worth of material. The titular Mr. Roughton teaches in California, so the standards are a bit different, but for the most part, they correspond well with Ohio’s. I had to do a fair bit of editing on the slide presentations, but they are a great starting point. And the History Labs are amazing. Oh, and it’s all FREE!

Mr. Clobes – The resources on this TeachersPayTeachers store promote critical thinking, but in small enough chunks that the students don’t get overwhelmed. When I covered Western Expansion I did most of the unit using materials from Roughton and Clobes to complement each other.

Clever Teacher Civil War Pack – I didn’t use the whole thing, but I really liked the 1850s Identity activity, the Causes jigsaw group activity and the Election of 1860 activities. Well worth the money.

Civil War Trust Curriculum – I bounced back and forth between the middle school and high school curriculum (I usually modified the HS material to be easier for MS readers). This was a really good starting point for me once we started discussing the actual war itself.

The Story of Us – Civil War episode (Available on Amazon and iTunes) – in the words of one of my students: “This is the best video you’ve ever showed us.” I find it a little light on battle information and the stakes of the war, but it does a good job capturing how soldiers experienced the war.

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