I realize I haven't posted a lot recently, which only means I've saved up some pretty awesome lesson ideas for me to share. Out of sheer boredom and the fact that I am completely caught up with my grading (for once), I've decided to start posting once again and try to get in the habit of posting more often now.
At first, when I started student teaching (or "interning" as they like to call it now), I had trouble thinking outside the box. I couldn't think of "fun" and "interesting" lessons to capture my students' attention, and without their attention, I have nothing really. I know for a fact that my early lessons really weren't that interesting, I'm not going to deny it. With time and practice, however, I learned that there are ways to make learning interesting. I have also learned that no matter how old the students are, if you hand them crayons and tell them to draw something every once in a while, they go absolutely crazy and love it! That's for another lesson though.
In my earlier stages of thinking outside the box, I did struggle, and I wasn't entirely sure what would and would not work. While teaching my students about immigration to America, I came up with the idea to have them analyze political cartoons. I personally love political cartoons, so I thought this would be a fantastic idea. We went through a few political cartoons as a class while they were taking notes during the PowerPoint, and this gave them a chance to practice looking carefully at political cartoons and understanding what they should be looking for.
After the notes session, I had the students count off into six groups. I have a fairly large class, so this formed groups of five or six, which was just big enough for their task. I previously selected four political cartoons that showed the views and stereotypes of immigrants during the time and printed them out in packets for the groups. Students were given directions to look over the political cartoons and think about what they just learned about during the lecture while taking notes. During the notes, we covered various different "types" of political cartoons and why Americans viewed them like they did. To guide them while analyzing the cartoons, I provided students with a packet with five questions per cartoon. Some of the questions are the same for each cartoon, while others are different. This allowed students to look at the cartoons as a whole and analyze careful details and meanings, both aspects are important when looking at political cartoons.
Overall, this lesson was a success. My students definitely are getting better at looking at political cartoons, something that is important for AP students like mine while preparing for their exam.