How to Add a Little History and Culture to Class Every Day

One of my plans for the new year is to start integrating more information related to U.S. culture and history into my classes. At the end of last semester, as I talked with my classes about what they liked and didn’t like, several students mentioned that they liked learning about U.S. history, culture, the news, and holidays. We talk about some of these things already as they come up in class, but I decided that I wanted to be more intentional about bringing in content related to history and culture.

I’ve decided that I’m going to start class each day with a short little tidbit about U.S. culture and/or history related to that particular date. I created a PowerPoint presentation, which is for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. It covers the entire month of January. For each date, there is a slide with a short paragraph of information about something important that happened in history on that date (or, in some cases, information about a holiday or a famous person’s birthday). My plan is to continue making a PowerPoint presentation for each month of the year so that I will eventually have a whole year’s worth of slides.

These are a couple of example slides:

On This Day - Jan - preview 1On This Day - Jan - preview 2On This Day - Jan - preview 3

I plan to use the slides at the beginning of class each day as a short warm-up activity for students. I know that some teachers like to start off each class with “Calendar Talk”—talking for a few minutes about that day’s date and other important upcoming events. I’ve been doing a little bit of Calendar Talk every once in a while with my classes, but now that I’ve made these PowerPoint slides with information for each day, I plan to use those as my the main part of my Calendar Talk each day.

I know that—just like any other topic we discuss in class—some of the daily history facts will probably pique students’ interest and might lead to a pretty long discussion, whereas other topics might not generate a lot of discussion. And that’s okay—I try, as much as possible, to just go with the flow in my class. If the students seem interested in a particular topic, we’ll discuss it for as long as it seems to hold their interest. If not, we’ll move on to something else.

I hope that 2019 is off to a great start for you and that you can find new ways to reach and inspire your students in the new year!


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