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Posts tagged ‘historical thinking’

#NCSS14: Four Sweet Strategies – Reading & Writing in the Elementary Classroom

This morning, Deb Brown and I presented a workshop on different strategies elementary teachers can use in their classrooms.

We had a great time!

If you’re interested, we put all of the goodies in a Dropbox folder. You can get the  Read more

#NCSS14: Session Two – Connecting Your Government Class and the Real World

Presented by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, my #NCSS14 session two focused on ways to engage students directly with actual issues in their communities through direct civic action.

They suggest that you can turn your government classroom into a hands-on civics lab to teach the workings of government by empowering students.

They shared about their Civics Action Project, a  Read more

Free Library of Congress eBooks for students

As more and more schools are moving away from paper textbooks and materials, teachers are working to answer the obvious question:

where can I find digital resources appropriate for kids?

If you and your building are using Mac computers or IOS devices such as iPads or iPods, at least part of the answer is the Library of Congress. The folks over there recently released six free iBooks that can be quickly downloaded and are perfect for having students interact with primary source evidence.

The Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Based on the Library’s Primary Source Sets, these new iBooks have built-in interactive tools that let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis.

(Aren’t an Apple school? The LOC is still an awesome place to find online and digital resources.)

The six books, Read more

Symbols, symbolism, and a sweet T-Chart

Just a quick post today about a very powerful strategy that’s pretty easy to integrate into your instruction. I had the privilege of sitting in on Scott’s 7th grade classroom last week when he used this activity with his kids.

Scott and his kids had just started a unit on territorial Kansas and he wanted students to get a sense of the tension that was building at the time around the issue of slavery.

His school is in the Topeka area and all of students have been to the state capital. And all of them, whether they remembered or not, have seen the massive John Steuart Curry mural of John Brown. At 11.5 feet tall and 31 feet wide, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the painting and Scott really wanted his kids to spend some quality time analyzing the content in the mural. Read more

Is Google making our students dumber? And should we care?

Dumber may be too strong of a word. But it does seem as if Google and social media are changing the way we think.

Perhaps the bigger question?

Is that a good or bad thing?

It’s not a new question. Way back in 2007, Mashable author Stan Schroeder highlighted his concerns with Google:

It will be interesting to see how this – if it keeps up, and my bet is that it will – will affect our ability to think in the future.

Carr expanded his thinking a bit in a book titled Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

In 2008, Atlantic Monthly author Nicolas Carr shared his concerns about how the web was changing the way we think:

. . . media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.

In 2011, Adam Clark Estes suggested that

we’re not necessarily losing our ability to remember things. Rather, the internet is changing how we remember. Ars Technica sums up the results nicely, “People are recalling information less, and instead can remember where to find the information they have forgotten.”

A more recent article at Salon has re-opened the can of worms and starts by saying that “we’re hooked on Read more

Is it ever okay to tamper with the past? Modifying primary sources to make them accessible

Maybe this is not as big a topic as I think it is. Maybe it’s just me. But it seems as if the idea of modifying primary sources in order to make them more “user friendly” for our students, especially younger kids, is kind of a big deal.

Maybe I’m wrong. As I travel around the country, I get the chance to work with lots of social studies teachers – who by the very nature of their position have a tendency to voice strong opinions about, well . . . just about everything.

Including among other things: K-State football, KU basketball, Democrat, Republican, Texas BBQ, Kansas City BBQ, and iPads vs. Chromebooks.

But no matter where I’m at the question of modifying or altering primary sources for student use in the classroom is a topic that gets everybody’s juices going. The concept is a pretty simple one. Use a primary document as an instructional tool but before handing it over to students, you edit the document – changing length or vocabulary or sentence structure or deleting unnecessary elements or whatever might hold kids back from being able to make sense of the document.

This, of course, is where the debate begins. What is unnecessary? Read more

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