An entire year of social studies has passed and it’s been a really productive year for me. From having Mr. Post in the first semester to finishing the year with Ms. McKinnon. In my opinion, this year of social studies has taught me more than I’d need to know. Like literally, more than I’d probably need to know 😉. However, it’s also been fun expanding my brain with knowledge about the spread of Christianity and the inventions from the Renaissance we still use today. This year, we had a total of five different topics. The spread of Christianity, how Islam took hold in the ancient world, why we should study the Byzantine Empire, The Black Plague and finally, and most recently, the Renaissance. The first three topics were fairly simple and ended with us writing DBQ’s as our “final project”. Our next big topic was “The Black Death”, which was by far, my favorite. Learning about how medicine was like back then and how a disease was so effective was really interesting for me. This topic’s final was a PechaKucha. A type of slideshow presentation where you have 20 seconds to talk about a picture concerning a “research question” you got to choose a partner. I worked with Elin for this project and our research was “How did different religions react to the Black Plague?”. Our final project of the year was the Renaissance. The Renaissance was another really fun topic and a great way to end the year. For this, our final was a Renaissance fair where Elin (my partner) and I presented an interactive presentation at the Renaissance fair in the Dragon’s Den. This and the Black Death were by far my favorite two units and I’m happy I got to leave them for the end of the year with the teacher I had for social studies in grade 6 and as my advisor in grade 6.In terms of skills, I think blog posts has been an area where I’ve improved greatly. Probably because of the school’s emphasis on writing, but it still has made me improve reflection on different things and talking about topics in greater depth. With topics and what I’ve learned this year, I really liked what we got to do because the whole year was a lot more interactive compared to the social studies year before in grade 6.
I have a couple things that I’ve really liked about social studies this year. Mainly though, these are the interactive activities we got to do. For example, during the Black Plague, we played a game over a couple classes where we simulated travelers back in the 15th century. We would travel through cities and pick seeds out of cups that represented those cities. In the cups, there would be a variation of seeds. Most were “healthy” seeds but every once in a while, you’d come across a “cholera” seed or a “Bubonic Plague” seed. The game was very simple yet it did a very good job in simulating what life was like back then in terms of getting sick and the numbers. If you got sick, you had to roll a die twice and roll sixes twice. This means that in the simulation game, there was a one in thirty-six chance that you’d survive the plague and stay alive, which was also similar to what life was like back then. Another thing I really liked about social studies is creating all the posters for what we learned. At the beginning of the year when we were doing Christianity, we learned about all the parables and had to make posters representing them which was really fun. We also learned about “IC GRAPES” in the first semester and had to make a poster/infographic for that which I also enjoyed a lot.
Along with the good things about social studies, there are also the minor inconveniences. Even though the strengths heavily outweigh the weaknesses (cough cough Sparta in grade 6), there are still somethings I didn’t like too much this year. Free writes have been something that I haven’t liked since grade 6 and that continues to this day. Usually, when we have to write them, I follow the prompt for one or two sentences and then I just go on a tangent writing whatever I want, or whatever’s in my head. I’ll always have two or three good free writes that I can use for free write blog posts but usually, when I write those, I just take the prompt and write two completely new paragraphs. Anything to do with free write, I don’t really have a favorable view of. Another thing I don’t really like is the graphic organizer. I don’t mind the DBQ too much because writing essays are kind of my “forte”, but I really don’t like it when I have to follow a specific sentence structure. I like having the freedom of writing whatever I want and making it flow in my head instead of following rigid criteria from “hook” to “conclusion sentence”. Following graphic organizers kind of make my writing weaker in my opinion because I have to follow everything the organizer says. I think they can help, but I also think they should be a little more loose with more options. Instead of having a box for every sentence (exaggeration), it could give us more freedom in where we want to write things. Another thing I don’t like is analyzing so many documents. I think we had to do more than 20 documents and it gets really annoying after you do more than five in a short amount of time. Even though there aren’t many questions in the documents, it can become annoyitating after a while. Overall however, social studies has been fun, many more times than it’s been hard or annoying which means, it’s been an amazing year with Mr. Post and Ms. McKinnon.