For Teachers

High School Social Studies Lesson Plans That Help Grab Attention

By The Room 241 Team October 30, 2012

When you’re creating lesson plans in any topic, you’re hoping for attention grabbers. Social studies lesson plans are no exception. When creating social studies lessons, you’ll want to craft them in a way that keeps students engaged and allows them to feel a genuine connection with the material. This is the best way to guarantee that they will get something out of the topic studied. When students are interested and engaged in a lesson, they will learn more and retain more information.

Creating attention-grabbing social studies lessons is fairly easy to do. Composing these lessons takes a bit of inventiveness and a commitment to genuinely getting the students involved in the material.  Follow the five steps below for the best chance at creating engaging lessons that will work as true attention grabbers. 

1. Attention Grabbing Social Studies Topics

Start by choosing elements within your social studies curriculum that are sure to be attention grabbers for kids. Your lessons do not have to be dry and boring. Quite the contrary! Social studies relates to who we are as a culture, where we came from and where we might be going. Keep this in mind when choosing your topic. Choose the “juicier” elements of more general topics. Are you studying ancient Egypt? Have the students do a project related to the mummies, or the cuneiform writing in some way. Studying ancient Greece and Rome? Have students construct models of the Parthenon or the Coliseum. They will feel as though they are stepping back in history and stepping into the shoes of the people who lived during those time, even if just for a short while.

2. Connect Your Topic to Current Issues

Your social studies lesson plans should relate to the lives of the students and provide a way for them to gain insight from what they are studying. This connection will motivate the students to do their best and stay truly engaged in the subject. One effective way to do this is to create analogies between the lesson being studied and a more current or relevant topic. For example, a past or current political conflict could be related to a sporting event: each side has its own specific goals, leaders, conflicts, strengths and weaknesses.

3. Provide Clear Instructions About the Lesson

Be sure to introduce your topic clearly and concisely, letting the students know about how the lesson is to unfold. Don’t be afraid to “sell” the lesson as best you can, generating and inspiring excitement about the topic before you even get started. Link the lesson to connections with present-day issues relevant to the students. Conclude by letting students know what will be expected of them and what you hope they will gain from the lesson.

4. Be Flexible

Now, it’s time to begin the lesson. Try not to be too rigid about deadlines or exact timing. Be flexible with your lesson plan as the time unfolds. Tune in to what students are responding to most. Allow more time for segments of the lesson where the dialogue or energy really seems to be strong. The activities can include a lecture, presentation, a facilitated discussion, group project, individual assignments or any combination of these approaches. Whether you stick to the lesson plan or deviate from it, be sure that you are fulfilling your initial objectives for the lesson plan. Provide and reiterate instructions throughout the lesson as needed.

5. Follow Up With Assessments

An assessment schedule can help you to determine if assignment objectives are being met and if students are getting the very most out of a lesson. If possible, build in multiple check points throughout your social studies lessons in order to assess learning and comprehension. Adjust accordingly as needed.

It is possible to create social studies lesson plans that are attention grabbers for your students. Tune in to the curriculum and highlight the most engaging and relevant aspects of the material. Your students will look forward to your class and will be more likely to come away with  experiences that enhances their lives.

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