Learning is sticky!

I teach middle schoolers Social Studies. US History from 1776 – 1870 to be exact. Revolution through Reconstruction. Wahoo, right? Hello? Are you still there?

Middle schoolers are one of the toughest age groups to work with.  They are passionate about things that mean something to them. They care about people, mainly when those people are “cool”. They want to know more about all kinds of things (Genius Hour for example). They can think like an adult but many times still are impulsive and act like a child.

So I need to tap into their passion, make it mean something, appeal to their compassion, give them enough information to make them want to know more but not so much that I gave away the spoiler. All to a group of people that can think like an adult but sometimes act like a child. Wow, sounds easy. (Sarcasm intended). Actually…..

Challenge Accepted! This will be Fun!

How do I connect this old, archaic, not relevant AT ALL, subject with middle schoolers world? I make it sticky.

Sticky learning is learning that stays with you. Ever been on an amazing vacation? How about a great concert? An awesome game? I could go on and on. Did you remember it?

YES YOU DID! You can probably get there right now. That is sticky learning!


To make historical learning sticky, students need to live it! They need to talk about it as they live it.

  • Trials
  • Congressional Hearings
  • Deliberating current events
  • redistricting congressional districts
  • debating tough topics both morally and politically.

What answers do they come up with that are neat and easy to package into a multiple choice answer? They don’t. They come up with answers that can be backed up and supported all while learning to understand various viewpoints and respecting those viewpoints that may be different from their personal view.

That is sticky learning!

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