Tools for Teaching: A How-to Handbook of Useful Ideas and Practical Solutions

Tools for Teaching: A How-to Handbook of Useful Ideas and Practical Solutions

by Jim Parsons PhD, Mariah Schroder

Paperback(New Edition)

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Engage your students AND keep your sanity with classroom-tested tools. Tools for Teaching Social Studies delivers a wealth of practical solutions for classroom success—all grounded in solid educational philosophy. A lifeline for new social studies teachers and a source of inspiration and ideas for experienced teachers, this book offers you a boost at every stage of your career. Based on a master teacher's four decades of experience, this top-notch toolkit is packed with strategies:

  • Learn five key teaching principles that put you and your students on the path to success.
  • Discover your unique style.
  • Connect with your students.
  • Set and achieve realistic professional and personal goals.
  • Stay organized and manage your time effectively.
  • Empower yourself as a teacher.
  • Avoid burn-out.
  • Facilitate effective group work.
  • Create engaging learning plans.
  • Make the right use of social media. And much more!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781550595802
Publisher: Brush Education
Publication date: 12/08/2014
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 956,191
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jim Parsons, PhD, has been a professor at the University of Alberta for 40 years. He is the author of over 100 books and 200 educational articles. He is an active educational researcher and the editor of two journals: The Canadian Journal for Teacher Research and the Northwest Journal of Teacher Education. His areas of interest are research, social studies, and religious and moral education.

Mariah Schroder is a recent graduate of the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. She received the Roger S. Smith Award for undergraduate research in 2014. Her research and areas of interest are social studies pedagogy and First Nations' education, specifically the reconciliation of traditional and emergent knowledge.

Read an Excerpt


This book is about teaching and learning. And, although these are just two words, they are more than simply two things—teaching and learning involve an entire toolbox of strategies, skills, wisdom, and relationships. A lot of things go into teaching, and it can take more than a lifetime to learn them. Teaching is a vocation—not a job. For us, a vocation is something you give your life to; a job is something you do to make money.

We wrote this book to help teachers become better at their vocation. What does it take to be a good teacher? We believe good teachers engage a set of qualities that become the essential characteristics of who they are. We say “engage” because we believe teaching is a life of action. Teachers don't spend much time staying still. The phrase “reflective practitioner” is often used to explain teaching. We agree that teachers must reflect about their work; they should read, think, and talk with colleagues. But, in our experience, reflective practitioner does not mean “sitting and thinking about.” Such reflection simply doesn't often happen. Instead, we believe in the idea of praxis as envisioned by Paulo Freire.

Paulo Freire believed in action that is informed by and linked to values. He believed people become literate as they speak with one another. However, this dialogue isn't just about deepening understanding and learning—it is part of making a difference in the world. We believe teachers should make a difference in the world. We hope this book moves us toward that goal.

This is the second edition of the book. The first edition was written largely by Jim Parsons, who spent years collecting his teaching ideas and the insights he has shared with his undergraduate students while teaching social studies curriculum and instruction. This edition was written differently. Although much of that first edition has remained—much of it updated—the process of writing differed. Most of the book was written as a conversation or dialogue between these teaching ideas and the impact they have on young teachers. We hoped to write it in a very Freire-styled manner. Freire believed dialogue is a co-operative activity involving respect, a process of enhancing community and building social capital that will lead toward social justice and human flourishing. In our particular model for creating this book, the author team shared an engaged space: Jim and eight undergraduate students from his social studies curriculum and instruction course. These students met together weekly for three hours to dialogue through the ideas. This book is the result of that dialogue.

This is not to say that Jim didn't engage a theoretical framework for the work. As a working researcher whose last three projects have been on student engagement, instructional leadership, and teacher professional learning and teacher efficacy, many of the beliefs that ground this book come from the impact of those research findings. Specifically, Jim's research findings have pushed him to believe in three types of actions:

1. Classrooms should focus on conversational pedagogies. Research supports the belief that students learn more when they talk to each other in the classroom (using frameworks such as project-based learning).
2. Children of all ages learn better when classrooms are hospitable. In other words, classrooms should be spaces where all children feel at home—safe, cared for, and understood.
3. The focus for thinking about teaching should be on what students do, not on what teachers do.

In all this work, we have tried to pull together practical and workable ideas that at their core help teachers focus on these three actions. We believe children of all ages should talk more in their classrooms, and these classrooms should be safe spaces where children feel at home and cared for. The main role of teachers is to create such safe spaces where children learn. We hope this book helps teachers consider and work to create these classroom spaces.

Table of Contents

Section 1: Being a Teacher
Linking it together: Thinking about teaching

Tool 1.1 Finding your teaching identity
Tool 1.2 Becoming an empowered teacher
Tool 1.3 Setting teaching goals
Tool 1.4 Supporting yourself
Tool 1.5 Managing your expectations
Tool 1.6 Managing your time
Tool 1.7 Participating in professional development
Section 2: The Practice of Teaching
Linking it together: The importance of planning

Tool 2.1 Using the program of studies/curriculum
Tool 2.2 Planning a unit
Tool 2.3 Writing a lesson plan
Tool 2.4 Building a community of learning
Tool 2.5 Establishing class routines
Tool 2.6 Staying organized
Section 3: Engaging Students
Linking it together: Meeting students' needs

Tool 3.1 Telling stories
Tool 3.2 Using student-centred learning
Tool 3.3 Using group work
Tool 3.4 Encouraging homework and study routines
Tool 3.5 Fostering inclusion
Tool 3.6 Promoting social justice
Tool 3.7 Engaging diversity
Tool 3.8 Working with FNMI students
Tool 3.9 Addressing mental health
Tool 3.10 Communicating with parents
Section 4: Teaching Literacy Skills
Linking it together: Literacy includes skills of understanding

Tool 4.1 Presenting course content
Tool 4.2 Taking notes
Tool 4.3 Using textbooks
Tool 4.4 Reading and discussion
Tool 4.5 Reviewing vocabulary
Tool 4.6 Writing position papers
Tool 4.7 Writing social studies essays
Tool 4.8 Writing reports using pictures
Tool 4.9 Writing on the computer
Tool 4.10 Writing tribute poems or essays
Tool 4.11 Writing and using personal value dilemmas
Tool 4.12 Preparing and structuring debates
Tool 4.13 Asking good questions
Tool 4.14 Teaching chronology and concentricity
Tool 4.15 Teaching critical analysis
Section 5: Assessment
Linking it together: Make assessment frequent, varied, fair, and positive

Tool 5.1 Planning your evaluation scheme
Tool 5.2 Recording and calculating marks
Tool 5.3 Writing thought-provoking multiple-choice questions
Tool 5.4 Creating quick quizzes
Tool 5.5 Creating a good final exam
Tool 5.6 Grading social studies essays
Tool 5.7 Using rubrics
Tool 5.8 Using alternative assessment strategies
Tool 5.9 Separating grades from feedback
Tool 5.10 Getting feedback from students
Section 6: Technology
Linking it together: Integrate technology into the curriculum

Tool 6.1 Integrating technology
Tool 6.2 Choosing social media
Tool 6.3 Using movies
Tool 6.4 Keeping track of movies and video materials
Tool 6.5 Incorporating music
Tool 6.6 Using computer applications
Section 7: Research and Experiential Learning
Linking it together: Connect with students' lives

Tool 7.1 Synthesizing and generalizing
Tool 7.2 Distinguishing between fact and opinion
Tool 7.3 Creating safe spaces for sharing
Tool 7.4 Encouraging tolerance, understanding, and critical thinking
Tool 7.5 Promoting student voices and government
Tool 7.6 Encouraging reflection
Tool 7.7 Bringing history to life
Tool 7.8 Using oral history
Tool 7.9 Building living libraries
Tool 7.10 Using fieldtrips
Tool 7.11 Using statistics
Tool 7.12 Using newspapers as a resource
Tool 7.13 Searching and researching

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