Using Current Events in Teaching the Executive Branch

As an eighth-grade civics teacher, I am about to start my unit of study on the Executive Branch. To be honest, I’m a little scared. Strike that. I am very scared. “Why are you scared, George?” you may ask. “If you stick to the facts, you’ll have nothing to worry about,” In normal times, I’d [...]

Using Popular Music in the Secondary Classroom

Teachers born between 1950 and 1980 makeup both the baby-boom generation and those known as “Generation X.” The music with which they grew up is a reflection of the historical periods that produced it – Vietnam, the Cold War, the Fall of Communism, September 11, 2001, and the events that followed. Teachers of social studies [...]

Social Studies in a Political Era

“Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!” Several of my 8th-grade students chanted President Trump’s campaign slogan several times when I explained to the students our next unit would be on immigration. One student, perhaps the brightest I’ve ever taught, approached me after class that day and asked me, bluntly, “Mr. Miller, what [...]

Reflections on My First Black History Month

I am forty-four-years-old. I have been a social studies teacher for 23 Septembers. I have been a student of history all of my life. I have cared about civil rights forever. But, before this February, I have never celebrated Black History Month. I am both ashamed of my ignorance and enlightened by this experience--it is [...]

[Opinion] America’s Gun Problem: What Can Teachers Do?

It’s been a tough week. If you are a teacher, student or parent in an American public school, the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people is just as upsetting as the mass shooting that came before it. Memories of the Las Vegas shooting, the Orlando Pulse shooting, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, Aurora, [...]