Social Studies 3 – Unit on Natural Disasters!

Here is the link to access my unit plan!

Happy Holidays everyone! 🙂



Notable Websites for Social Studies Resources

This is a really cool website tying geography concepts in with the theme of zombies. This gets students’ motivation levels up (if we have a class that is interested in zombies) and applies to the Dynamic Relationships strand, while also clearly tying into Interactions and Interdependence of Nations… probably all 4 could be incorporated at some point.

It is like playing one big strategy (educational) game, and students get to make a lot of decisions and use creativity, but it links back to learning different mapping strategies, considering resources needed, ensuring survival of a diversity of cultures, ensuring the human-environment relationship is a good one, and basically building their own civilization, as well as planning for the future and how they can sustain this civilization and continue to experience success. Here is the Scope & Sequence page and I think each segment could honestly been done as individual lessons (not putting as much instructional time in as this professor has).

From what I can see, there are opportunities to both tie in content knowledge that is still applicable in reality, as well as develop a plethora of skills, while reflecting on how our current world could maybe be changed to fit the ideals they are discussing within the unit.

I would have LOVED doing this in school!!

(2013). Scope and Sequence. Retrieved December 1, 2015 from


This could be a great tool for any kind of current-events based projects, or daily class discussions. It has links to the online news articles for each. We would just have to be careful about the credibility of some sites and get into the habit of double checking with multiple sites on the same topic, to get different perspectives. This is where I learned about Wales and their decision to make deceased individuals’ organs accessible to organ donors.


Hopkins, Gary. (August 13, 2012).Twenty-Five Great Ideas for Teaching Current Events. Retrieved December 1, 2015 at

I love the ideas that this author had. For example, there is an interdisciplinary activity (also touching on LA) where students choose an article and determine the 5 Ws. They write each out and give their information to another group, who writes a pretend story based on the information they were given. Then, students get to compare fact, versus fiction, to see how close the story really was.

I am also thinking this would be an introduction to a very important discussion on media: that sometimes what you read in the media IS fiction, or isn’t the entire story. One newspaper article can’t explain exactly what happened and how every single person involved felt. We could discuss concepts like ‘Telephone’, where every time a current event is explained by a person it changes, and different parts are focused on, or left out, and we are left with different stories each time. We could also discuss the importance of doing lots of research on a topic, not thinking we understand it just based off of reading one article on it, because our view may be very one-sided.

Another idea that jumped out at me was the Creating a Class Newspaper link off of this page. I started imagining students actually creating their own school (or personal events) newspaper and being in charge of distributing it to themselves, the school, their parents, or their community (proper considerations would have to be in place to ensure private information is not divulged, and that students cannot be recognized online if their news stories are made public). This gets them certainly reflecting on their day to day lives, and the diverse cultures of themselves and others. It would be interesting to see what students consider newsworthy, and if they focus on negative events, positive events, etc.

Henry, Laurie. (n.d.) Creating a Classroom Newspaper. Retrieved December 1, 2015 from


Geography Bingo

Although students are encouraged to look at one newspaper to do this activity, I would rather have laptops available and ask students to Google articles related to this. I would not make it a race against time because I would want students to be exploring, not racing through and barely getting information let alone learning it. Perhaps it could be a ‘once everyone has made a line (and sharing with peers is allowed if students are struggling) we will all get to share our findings, and then watch a fun news video’ and everyone gets a(n educational) prize, kind of thing. I would also either have to adapt the article themes to be grade-appropriate (these seem middle-years appropriate), or go through the vocabulary with them and ensure they understand what each one actually means before I let them go wild with it.

(n.d.) National Geography Standards Bingo. Retrieved December 1, 2015 from


Gonchar, Michael. (October 7, 2014). 50 Ways to Teach with Current Events. Retrieved December 1, 2015 from

I especially like number 20 (“Hunt for the Three Branches of Government in the Paper”) because it relates to Power and Authority. I could pre-gather some articles (leaving a pile of newspaper clippings – or an adaptation is I could be gathering online resources and having a sheet of links to follow) relating to different levels of government in Canada, and could then ask students to look through them to learn what duties/concerns each level of government has.

A Few Ramblings on Social Issues – Nov 30th Articles

Morris, Steven. (December 1, 2015). Wales switches to organ donation opt-out. Retrieved December 1, 2015 from

This is a topic that would fit under wealth and resources if explored in class, as well as power and authority. The country has switched so that when individuals die, unless people specifically opt out, their organs will be used by people in need. I think this is an amazing step forward. It is a completely ridiculous part of our culture to keep bodies in tact, or dispose of organs, when we have the technology to use the organs to serve a crucial, life-saving purpose for others. Denying those in need of organs a right to live in order to ‘respect the dead’ leaves me baffled.

In general, I feel people often have opinions, and even gut feelings, based off of what I call ‘blind tradition’ and these people feel compelled to to do something “because it’s always been done that way”. In general, I am not a fan of tradition without merit – merit being a reason in which it is helping, not oppressing, someone. I think this relates very largely to social studies, because I believe that there is a delicate balance between ‘agreeing to disagree’ or ‘respecting diversity of traditions’, and critically examining and working to deconstruct traditions that are actually oppressive. If you say you would vote to take rights away from other races, for example, it is no longer an issue of ‘agree to disagree’ because that person’s belief in itself is affecting human rights. In order to promote positive social change, things like this – ‘exceptions’ to the idea of respecting diversity – need to be examined. If we kept the tradition that men have more rights than women because “that’s the way it’s done”, we would still be stuck in 1950s mentality, and that terrifies me to even think about!

A GREAT story to read and discuss (maybe not elementary – even reading it in high school left me a bit traumatized) is “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I have always loved it for its commentary of blind tradition and how detrimental is can be to do something “because it’s always been done this way”. If you are doing something and that is your only reason, but it is not hurting anyone, then all the power to you. But if a tradition is causing hardship on someone – it needs to stop.


I wanted to share a fantastic social studies topic to look at, which I think relates to ‘Interactions and Interdependence of Nations’. Moms around the world have banded together to create a safe, supportive space for LGBTQ+ youth through the holidays. If childrens’ families have rejected them, these mothers will step in and provide them a ‘home for the holidays’ online. My only critique is that it is limited to moms. I think it is unfair to restrict it, because I would love to see dads engaged in this process as well. Or men and women who don’t have any children, for that matter, but want to do their part to help the community. But the fact that someone is looking out for these youth makes me very happy.

Hearing about this resource may scare some students who have not come out to their parents yet, and that is not my intention, but it may also help students who have come out and are homeless/disowned by parents. The reality is that sometimes families do reject their children, and I think it is important to know that although there are people like that in the world (overcome with fear, hate, and/or misunderstanding) there are people (like Your Holiday Mom helpers) who are willing to go the extra mile to not only show that they disagree with the rejection, but show that they are willing to step up be the positive presence that these LGBTQ+ youth are missing.

November 23rd – Tools for Teaching and Article Reflection


Using Climate Change as a Teaching Tool

I agree with the author of this article (Bill McKibben) that social studies has to do with so much more than how we care for others. I think it really needs to encompass how we care for and about our planet – our space, of abiotic and biotic natural things in their entirety, both locally and far away. If enough of us refuse to care, our world is soon going to become a place so unhealthy that the vast majority of people will be struggling to to survive. Environmental issues have made that a reality for many communities today. I think teaching students to care for their planet teaches them to link ahead, to predict, assess, and look for preventions as well as solutions. Therefore it incorporates scientific processes in a really meaningful way.

The author says something that I think is so important, in this article. “[we]e need to be drawn in, seduced by the pleasure of imagining new futures. Because plan A — going on just like we are now — won’t work, we need a plan B. And the younger you are, the easier it is to envision that plan B, because you’re not as locked in by decades of habit or economic necessity. […]  Simply to think about recess is to understand the pleasure of doing things together, not one by one. Those lessons about community — about how to work with one another — will be more important in solving the environmental crisis than any piece of new technology. ” I like how McKibben mentions the importance of community to evironmental education. It is twofold: I think it is important because, if we see others excited about helping the environment, we (or at least I am) more likely to get excited ourselves. Positivity is infectious – just like negativity is. Secondly, and most importantly, is learning that it is often healthier for us as social beings, AND for the environment, to do things together. We can’t take on the world ourselves. Sometimes we need to ask for help – sometimes, we need to give it. Why do something twice and strain the Earth twice as much, when you can do it once (carpooling for example)? Historically there has been this huge push to do things independently, to be a Lone Ranger, and if people don’t start learning to make compromises and share with one another, not only are we going to have social tensions, we will most definitely have environmental ones too.

Bill McKibben. (October 4, 2007). Editor’s Note: Climate Change as a Teaching Tool. Retrieved November 30, 2015 from



An idea Josie and I had come up with for an activity is having students learn a bit about carbon footprints, and then take a quiz to see how much of an impact they have on the environment.

Earth Day – Global Ecological Footprint Calculator

This website offers options for adults and kids, with both more detailed or less detailed (faster) quizzes depending on the time we have. There are so many ideas for ways we can be improving our ecological footprint. Unfortunately I don’t think they all relate to global warming (but moreso the environment in general) but as a class we could pick out which ones we think relate to global warming and explain how.

From there, the rest of our lesson could be students brainstorming goals to write about in their journal. They can ask – why did that question on that quiz relate to global warming? Is it something I could maybe improve? Some question I can prompt them with are: What is your goal – what do you want to have done by a certain date? What are you going to do to achieve it? Has it been met?

At the end of our goal period we can have discussions about how we changed, and if we experienced any other benefits along the way. For example if they chose to bike instead of take the bus to school, they might comment on how much healthier they feel from physical exercise.

We could perhaps do another carbon footprint quiz to see if their impact went down. Or, if they helped out in a smaller way that can’t really be tracked by the quiz – we still want to celebrate that. As long as students can back up how what they are doing (or stopping doing) is related to making our world a healthier place, we are good.

(n.d.) Footprint Calculator. Retrieved November 30, 2015 from



Another tool I thought we could use is An Interactive Globe Looking at Global Warming. If you already have Google Earth downloaded, just click on the ‘Interactive Google Earth Layer’ download from the above website, and it will open Google Earth with that special layer over top. From there, you and your students can click on different parts of the world (allowing for awesome geographic exploration of a globe, which is especially prevalent in the Grade 3 Dynamic Relationships curriculum) and a climate chart will pop up. The site says: “The move is part of an ongoing effort to make data about past climate and climate change as accessible and transparent as possible.” The site claims that weather data goes back hundreds of years in some areas! I think it is great that as teachers we can introduce students to graphing, global warming, and understanding changing trends in climates around the world, while still being able to focus on our home location (or whatever specific location we may be looking at in a class), without having to chase information all over the Internet. It is all in one place and is literally at our fingertips. This makes it easy to incorporate awareness of global warming into almost any lesson where a location is being explored.

Nuccitelli, Dana. (February 4, 2014). Google Earth: how much as global warming raised temperatures near you? Retrieved November 30, 2015 from