March 1st is Statehood Day in the state of Nebraska. We will be celebrating 152 years since officially becoming the 37th state on March 1, 1867!
I moved to Omaha, NE, for my first teaching job back in 1995. My assignment was 4th grade. The biggest part of the Social Studies curriculum for 4th grade is to teach Nebraska History. I had just moved to Nebraska, living here for only 2 months. Omaha was the only part of Nebraska I had ever been in! If you are familiar with a Nebraska map you will see that Omaha is on the extreme east side of the state, you don’t even need to drive through other areas of Nebraska to arrive in Omaha. You head over the Missouri River (Iowa border) on I-80 or I-29 and go directly into Omaha. So needless to say I did not have one bit of background knowledge of the state of Nebraska or its history!
In addition to a lack of personal experience, the district gave me ZERO resources to use to teach this curriculum, no textbooks, no informational books, no teacher’s manuals, nothing, zero, zip! So to say I really was not qualified or prepared to teach this required Social Studies curriculum is an understatement!
I made it through that first year, how I’m not quite sure? I learned about Nebraska right along with my students. The second-year I was able to start to refine the resources that I created and by the third year, it was looking even better. The silver lining of the experience is that by being given nothing I was able to refine my creating skills and have been able to utilize those skills with my The Teaching Bankadventures!
When my son was in 4th-grade his teacher contacted me asking if I had any resources to help with her Nebraska Unit. I enjoy sharing my resources with my childrens’ teachers and her email sparked an idea to create a product line using the materials I had created for my own classroom. I would have been in heaven to have something like this available in my first year of teaching! So with that my Complete Nebraska State Study Interactive Notebook Unit, was born!
I do understand that this product doesn’t have the widest audience, mainly Nebraska teachers! I created it with 11 distinct sections so that can be used in isolation or as a full-year curriculum so that teachers can pick and choose to fit their needs. This also gave me the opportunity to offer the Lewis & Clark section and The Oregon Trail section as separate, stand-alone items to market to the wider US audience. You don’t have to be a Nebraska teacher to use either of those!
Section 1: Nebraska Maps, covers Nebraska’s location within the United States, surrounding states, populous cities, regions, waterways/aquifer, and weather.
Section 2: Nebraska State Symbols & Government, covers Nebraska’s flag, seal, state symbols (bird, tree, etc), federal government representatives, state representatives, introduction to the Unicameral Legislature, and the steps of how a bill becomes a law.
Section 4: Prehistoric Nebraska, covers Nebraska during the Prehistoric times. Activities include vocabulary, Ashfall Fossil Beds, animals in Nebraska during the Ice Age, and the first humans in Nebraska.
Section 6: Lewis and Clark, covers the location and exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, map the journey of Lewis & Clark, investigate supplies needed for the journey, a timeline of the journey, journal the journey, and the impact of the exploration. *This section is not Nebraska specific and can be used nationwide!
Section 7: The Oregon Trail, covers the first pioneer settlers, mapping the Oregon Trail, investigate reasons for traveling the Oregon Trail, research supplies needed for the journey, hardships endured, journal the journey, and the Mormon Trail. *This section is not Nebraska specific and can be used nationwide!
Section 8: Nebraska’s Road to Statehood,covers Nebraska’s road to statehood, including activities for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Homestead Act, housing on the prairie, life of a pioneer child, the impact of the railroad to NE, and NE becomes a state.
All of these sections are available on their own so you can tailor it to your own classroom needs. You can also buy the entire unit together as one bundle at a reduced cost.
This can save you money and it includes everything you need to teach your entire state study for Nebraska. The alignment to the newly adopted 2019 Nebraska 4th Grade Social Studies State Standards is included with every section to make planning even easier!
In creating my resources I made a conscious effort to use only historical images and clip art. I know there are a lot of resources out there that utilize cutesy type clip art in their history products with a goal to entice children into thinking it is “fun”. I don’t subscribe to that line of thinking, especially when dealing with topics such as war, slavery, genocide, or in the depiction of indigenous people, enslaved people, or immigrants. I feel very strongly that using cartoonish imagery sends the wrong message to students preventing them from seeing the people and events as real and serious in nature.
You don’t have to make these topics “fun”, but you can very easily make these topics interesting through deep discussions. Children are naturally empathetic and tolerant. It is a perfect time to tap into that empathy and tolerance as they learn of the atrocities of the past. This doesn’t need to be sensationalized or cutesy, these discussions of the events of the past taught in an honest and real depiction will engage the student’s interest. The deep discussions you have as you learn together will spark an understanding and appreciation for what has come before and hopefully will lead to the goal of learning this uncomfortable history, which is not to repeat it.
I hope this product can be the lifesaver for you that it would have been for me back in that first year of teaching! This covers everything that you need for the Nebraska study in an interactive way. Your students will be motivated, involved, and at the end have their very own Nebraska State Guide!
My youngest son is a highly visual and hands-on learner who has an IEP. He excels when he’s actually doing something, not just being lectured to. Social Studies has always been his favorite subject and unfortunately when he was in fifth grade the method for instruction for social studies did not set him up for success and I could see him losing interest in the subject. To combat this I created materials to complement his school instruction while helping him retain his interest and learn the material in a way that better meets his needs. The Interactive Notebook format is perfect for my son’s learning style and works very well with the American History curriculum. Even better to engage his interest is to use Google Drive to complete all the work electronically. He much prefers to type and manipulate using the computer rather than traditional paper and pencil methods.
I know my son is not unique in his learning style and I know the need for better quality materials is there, especially after looking over the curriculum materials that were provided to him via a top name educational publishing company. With this in mind, I decided to dedicate a year to creating materials for my son while also offering them in my TpT store. I was very pleased with the results of the work with my son and I am happy to see the demand is there for the products from fellow teachers.
With budgets getting cut for curriculum materials I knew I needed to provide something that included everything a teacher needs and/or includes links to free resources. All of my units contain an informational slideshow that goes along with the activities. I also include links to free online resources that can be utilized while working through the units.
I am also aware of the time restraints put on teachers for social studies instruction to accommodate testing schedules so all the activities can, for the most part, be completed in a single class period so that you can fit in social studies without missing out on the important content. I also include an IntelliNotes™ format to use when you are short on time, but still need to hit the high points.
This product line contains units to take you from the early days of North America to the beginning of the 20th Century.
There are 53 units total and they are:
All of the units follow a similar format and contain both a printable and Google Drive format and includes:
Contain a cover sheet in both color and black & white.
Links to helpful online resources.
Guide with a link to Google Drive file and instructions on how to use.
Intelli Notes™ format to use when you are short on time.
Tutorial guide showing how to make all foldable activities.
Two different vocabulary activity versions (foldable or flash card). The file also contains blank editable pages so that you can add or change the vocabulary to best fit your needs. **This is the only editable portion of the products.
Interactive notebook activities to cover each topic within the section to help students pinpoint and highlight the main ideas and concepts.
An End of Unit Assessment.
Answer keys for all included activities
From the first unit, Early People of North America:
In creating my resources I made a conscious effort to use only historical images and clip art. I know there are a lot of resources out there that utilize cutesy type clip art in their history products with a goal to entice children into thinking it is “fun”. I don’t subscribe to that line of thinking, especially when dealing with topics such as war, slavery, or genocide or in the depiction of indigenous people, enslaved people, or immigrants. I feel very strongly that using cartoonish imagery sends the wrong message to students preventing them from seeing the people and events as real and serious in nature.
You don’t have to make these topics “fun”, but you can very easily make these topics interesting through deep discussions. Children are naturally empathetic and tolerant. It is a perfect time to tap into that empathy and tolerance as they learn of the atrocities of the past. This doesn’t need to be sensationalized or cutesy, these discussions of the events of the past taught in an honest and real depiction will engage the student interest. The deep discussions you have as you learn together will spark an understanding and appreciation for what has come before and hopefully will lead to the goal of learning this uncomfortable history, which is not to repeat it.
I read a story in the Omaha World-Herald, called Teachers “Say Social Studies Suffers”, and it has me has me riled up.
As I was reading I totally agreed with the thoughts that Social Studies is being put on the back burner to focus more on the numerous amount of state testing that is done. I also agree wholeheartedly with the dire ramifications this will have on the next generation of Americans and what that means to the citizenship of our country.
Then I hit this paragraph, “Several board members agreed that social studies, which includes the study of history and geography, are being crowded out of the classroom. But the only way to put them on a level playing field with math and reading would be to require a state social studies test.”
Really? The answer to the problem is to throw more state testing at the students and teachers? Really?
Teachers and students are already so overwhelmed with state/standardized testing that true teaching and creativity is being lost!
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Every Child Succeeds Act of 2015, with the excessive focus on testing has depleted the schools of true learning. Teachers are so focused on meeting those test goals and focusing only on those narrowed skills that they don’t have the time to really teach and let students use their minds, imagination, and creativity.
Most states have added the Common Core Standards or standards that are similar but with a different name, creates a whole new dimension to the paperwork and hoops that teachers need to jump through. From various blogs and forums I read I see post after post of exasperated teachers that simply just want to teach again. They are so fed up with the testing and standards that are supposed to “fix” the system!
Also, in a climate of more and more budget cuts, schools simply can’t afford to spend on all this testing. Testing students cost a fortune for school districts (meaning YOU the taxpayer!)! Wouldn’t the money be better spent on additional teachers and smaller class sizes?
These educational bureaucrats are as messed up as Congress is. Sadly, it is the future generations of Americans that will pay for it. As an educator that upsets me, but as a parent that makes me very angry! I am sick and tired of these so-called “experts” stealing my children’s learning opportunities. How many of them have actually stood in front of a classroom for a school year and worked with children? It is outrageous!
The most successful teaching years I have experienced were when I had a principal with the philosophy that as college-educated certified teachers we were qualified to teach. Unless he saw a problem he stepped back and let us do our job as we saw fit. He knew that we knew these kids better than any administrator or board member and he knew we would strive to take these kids as far as we could. In those years my students blossomed the most and they achieved the most.
In my experience the more the board or administration gets involved the less the children succeed! Teachers are trained professionals. We have college degrees, many of them advanced. We take ongoing development courses throughout our career and we are there in the classroom every day, the closest to the student outside of their parents. We are educated, we are qualified. Let us do our jobs and teach! Save the taxpayers money and save the American education system by scrapping all this unnecessary and excessive testing!
I’m Shelley from The Teaching Bank. I have taught 3rd, 4th, and 6th grades.
My goal is to provide lessons and units for K-12 that are practical and ready to teach with minimal prep needed.