Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

Grade 8 Lessons

  • Grade 8 Lessons (pdf)
    • Lessons and Skills Correlation
    • Analysis of Documents Related to the Growth of Nationalism in America
    • Assumptions Behind Manifest Destiny
    • Effects of British Economic Policies on the American Colonies
    • Strengths and Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
    • Basic Principles Reflected in the U.S. Constitution
    • Constitution: Enhancement for Additional Development of Pre-AP* Skills

Teacher Voice: Grade 8 Pre-AP* U.S. History—Michael Stewart, O.L. Slaton Junior High, Lubbock, TX

Pre-AP* classes pose different and unique challenges than those of regular classes. Pre-AP students are generally intrinsically motivated and are actively in pursuit of knowledge. This motivation drives students to want to know more information about a particular subject or topic. Pre-AP students need to be challenged in their learning process, or we run the possibility of losing them due to boredom. For this reason, it is important that teachers use Bloom’s Taxonomy in their lessons for Pre-AP classes. Bloom's will help challenge students to find more information on the topic.

In every classroom, the use of Bloom’s is essential for a successful learning environment. Bloom’s also provides the opportunity for students to fully explore what they are learning. All six levels should be incorporated as the teacher provides information, or as the students provide the information. The teacher should move up in Bloom’s as the activity progresses; this could be in one day or over several days.

In the Pre-AP classroom, teachers will be able to spend more time at the top of Bloom’s. This allows for students to explore and learn on their own. This also allows students to make more connections with other topics. With regular classes, teachers have to spend more time at the bottom or lower end of Bloom’s to ensure that students understand the concepts. However, it is essential that these students be exposed to the higher-level thinking questions. Generally, the teacher must take on a more active role in questioning and connecting the events in the regular classroom than in the Pre-AP class, where the students will pick up the connections quicker.

Homework for the Pre-AP classroom differs from the regular classroom as well. Generally, Pre-AP homework will be more in depth, which will require outside reading and writing. This time allows for students to develop their thoughts into a concisely written essay. This also gives students the opportunity to teach themselves and bring the information back to teach others.

High expectations for students are important in every classroom. If students know that the teacher expects high quality work and accepts nothing less, then most students will rise to meet the teacher’s expectations. If we have low expectations, then they will meet those and see no benefit of ever achieving a higher level. Expectations for Pre-AP classes are higher than those of a regular classroom (although maybe they should not be). We expect our Pre-AP students to work outside the classroom on a regular basis and to grasp concepts quickly.

In either class, I am reminded of a quote from George Bernard Shaw, "What we want is the child in pursuit of knowledge and not knowledge in pursuit of the child."