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Books that shaped America. Mmm . . .

As part of the celebration of their 100th birthday, the US Department of Labor recently put together a list titled “Books That Shaped Work in America.” It’s an interesting list. And I will be the first to admit that more than several of the books are unfamiliar to me and that more than several of the books are . . . mmm . . . interesting selections.

I mean, I get why The Jungle made the list. Why Liar’s Poker made the list. Even Busy Busy Town (a personal favorite). But still scratching my head a bit on I’m a Frog and Madam Secretary. That’s the cool thing about lists – everyone has a different opinion. I also like the idea that the Department of Labor asked current and former employees to create the list.

But it got me thinking. Read more

Tip of the Week: World War One Museum and Centennial goodies

June 28, 1914.

Despite warnings of a Serbian plot to assassinate him, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, took his wife on a visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. They had minimum security and the route they planned to travel within the city was publicized.

Partway through the trip, a bomb was thrown at the motorcade and several people were injured. Following a planned speech by the Archduke, the motorcade planned to travel to the hospital via a different route to visit the injured. A failure to communicate the new route with the drivers took the royal couple right in front of Gavrilo Princip, one of the assassins who was stationed on the original path.

The car carrying the Archduke and his wife suddenly stops directly in front of Princip because someone in the car is telling the driver, “You idiot, you’re not supposed to go down this road. Stop the car and back up.” Princip fires two shots, killing both the Archduke and his wife.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The world is gearing up for the centennial of World War One and there is tons of stuff out there that can be used and adapted by world and US history teachers. So today  . . . a quick list of some of that stuff. Read more

Turn, Washington’s spies, and historical thinking

I was able to catch just a part of the first episode last Sunday of the AMC’s new series, Turn. Looks pretty good -

The show is based on the real-life Culper Ring—a spy ring organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge under the guidance of General Washington that was tasked with reporting on British activities in New York and Connecticut. And based on reviews of upcoming episodes, we’re gonna see more early American water torture, espionage/spycraft, politicking, a little bit of a murder-mystery thrown in, and some fairly graphic battle scenes.

AMC is the channel that gave us Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. So . . . I’m not sure I would plan on showing entire episodes to my 5th graders. But I do think there are some nice tie-ins to the study of the Revolutionary War era and the events of the period. And I like the idea of using Washington’s spies as a hook to kids wanting to learn more about those events. I also think that high school teachers and kids could use the Culper Ring as a counter-balance to talking about more current events such as the NSA intelligence gathering, the fight against terrorism, and First Amendment rights.

This is the kind of content that seems perfect for creating un-Googleable questions and asking kids to evaluate and make sense of evidence: Read more

Tip of the Week: Financial Literacy

Yes. I’m sure you’ve heard.

The Kansas House of Representatives introduced a bill about two weeks ago requiring a personal financial literacy program as a requirement for high school graduation. Not a bad idea at all. Of course, later amendments to the bill dropped the graduation prerequisite and added the requirement that schools teach “the importance and execution of an effective professional handshake.”

So . . . look out, global economy. Meet a kid with a firm grip and who looks you square in your eye? You know that’s a Jayhawk.

All semi-kidding aside, the intent of the Kansas House was spot on. Kids do need to a strong knowledge of economics and personal finance. Lucky for them April is Financial Literacy Month.

financial-literacy-after-high-schoolIf you’re in the need of some financial literacy ideas, Read more

Does your lesson suck? Find out with this rubric

I’ve been having some interesting conversations over the last few weeks with my buddy Steve. Basically, the conversation has focused on a simple question:

How do teachers know whether they’re good at what they do?

We’ve been trying to figure out what types of data could provide information to help us understand what good teaching actually looks like. Part of that discussion involves asking students to provide part of the data.

Yeah.

But browse through an article, Why Kids Should Grade Teachers, from The Atlantic that discusses the power of student feedback. And you may not agree with all of it. I get that. But the idea still makes sense to me. Kids spent months in our classrooms – their perspective is important in helping us understand the impact we’re having on them, good and bad.

I’ve attached a couple of quick sample surveys. Feel free to adapt them for content and age levels.

But there is other information that can also be useful to answering the original question. We can use all sorts of data to get feedback about quality instruction.

One of the most useful is Read more

Every Book is a Social Studies Book

I recently facilitated a conversation with elementary teachers that focused on using the C4 Framework in the K-5 social studies classroom. It was a great day – we talked about historical thinking and the use of evidence and integration of social studies with ELA and online resources and all sorts of cool stuff.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the day was the time we spent talking about and practicing the use of social studies trade books in the elementary classroom. One of the resources we used was a great book called Every Book is a Social Studies Book: How to Meet Standards with Picture Books, K-6.

First thing, it’s not just for K-6. There is stuff in there for middle school and even some high school folks. Second thing, it’s a book you need to track down. The authors, Jeannette Balantic, Andrea S. Libresco, Jonie C. Kipling, have put together an amazing collection of discipline-specific strategies along with extensive collections of trade and picture books all aligned to 10 national NCSS social studies themes. Read more

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