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Ways to Build Community in Your Social Studies Classroom

More than ever, the classroom is about collaboration and community. This is especially important in your social studies classroom! Community building is not just about helping your students get along and work together in their classroom. Community can be built in your school, district, neighborhood, and even your town! Use these ways to build community in your social studies classroom this year!

Focus on Growth Mindset

In upper elementary and middle school classrooms, we're all about building a growth mindset. Think about how many times you hear students say something is too hard or they "can't" do it. Flip the mindset and help them set goals and learn from their setbacks and failures. Learn more about growth mindset and famous failures through this interactive Growth Mindset presentation. When your students find comfort in struggling and learning together, they'll be ready to build a community of learners in your classroom. One way you can demonstrate a growth mindset in your classroom is by treating setbacks as opportunities for growth. Share some sample questions from the U.S. Civics test. Most people will not get every answer correct. Allow your students to know that it's OK not to know all the answers and work through them together. Show your students ways to research together and overcome difficult tasks.

Take on a Community Service Project

Ask your students to identify a problem in your school or community. What steps can they take to solve this problem? For example, they may see that there are food deserts or places without access to fresh food in the community. Why not start a free community garden or a food drive at the school? Students may notice that there is a lot of litter around the school. Start a community clean up! Maybe there are senior citizens that don't have family to visit them or have been isolated due to the pandemic. Make some cards and gifts to send to nursing homes. The possibilities are endless, and your students will make a difference and connect beyond the classroom. Think about ways to encourage recycling in your classroom! Try a recycling audit, reuse materials, and learn more about recylcing with a recylcing escape room!

Let's Breakout!

One of my favorite activities to build community in the social studies classroom is Breakouts. Using activities aligned with "escape rooms", these puzzles help your students solve and "Breakout"! Not only will your students learn incredible content like The Battle of Bunker Hill, The Middle Ages, and the Branches of Government , they'll learn to work together as a community of learners to solve puzzles and problems!

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Start Community Meetings

Sometimes building community is just about having chats within your classroom. Let your students know that homeroom or guidance classes aren't the only places they can voice their concerns. Social studies encompasses lessons on responsibility and civics. What better way to connect your students as members of a community than to allow them to speak what's on their minds? Model conversations surrounding current events that concern your students. You don't have to brush controversial or political topics under the rug as long as you allow for a fair and balanced discourse.
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Engage in Community Art Projects

Collaborative art projects can also be part of social studies! I love using collaborative posters in class to highlight the whole class's creativity and knowledge of social studies related topics. Each student gets a piece of the poster. (The poster includes 25 pieces.) After the pieces are complete, the blocks are put together to form a full poster. What a great way to display a community project in your classroom!

Student Leadership

Does your school have a student council or student government? Even if there isn't a formal one in place, why not have leadership roles in your classroom. Talk about the branches of government and types of government in your classroom. What does it mean to be a democracy? A republic? Having leadership roles in place in your classroom helps your students take an active role in their community. Maybe you won't have elected roles like president and vice president, but consider having some rotating leadership roles. For example, why not have a secretary that writes the homework assignments up. You could have a librarian that puts books back on the shelves. Even a tech expert can help manage iPads or computers. What are some other student leadership roles you can have to build community in your classroom? Building community in your social studies classroom starts with a positive mindset and activities that allow your students to collaborate and have fun together! Whether your students are solving puzzles, playing games, taking on leadership roles, or truly making a difference in the community at large, get started with ways to build community in your social studies classroom. How will you build community in your social studies classroom?

Grab a Free
Growth Mindset
Escape Room for grades 4-8
and other freebies too!

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Grab a Free Growth Mindset Escape Room for grades 4-8.

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Grab a Free
Growth Mindset
Escape Room for grades 4-8
and other freebies too!