I spent most of the day today talking iPads with K-12 teachers in all contents. But I have to admit – my favorite part of the day was the two hours spent with social studies teachers.
We chatted about a variety of things but the focus was on iPad apps and activities that aligned to my recently released C4 Framework for the Social Studies. For those unfamiliar with the C4 Framework, we’ve broken down the NCSS national social studies standards, the Common Core literacy standards for the social studies, and the new Kansas social studies standards into four easy to follow themes that can help you plan high-quality lessons and units.
The idea behind the C4 Framework is to incorporate each of the following items into your lesson and units: Read more
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend five days with Fritz Fischer at a Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminar. It was awesome. Fritz has been involved in history / social studies issues at the national level for years. He helped write the Colorado state social studies standards and now he’s come out with a great book titled The Memory Hole: The US History Curriculum Under Siege. It’s basically Fritz saving the world. Trust me on this.
The basic premise?
I am afraid that the discipline of social studies is being hijacked.
He calls them anti-historians. Working to insert their own sanitized versions of past events, they misunderstand the purpose of history, and are afraid of the process of history. He suggests that we are moving towards a 1984 Orwellian reality that “reinscribes” events “exactly as often is necessary.” That lives by the phrase “who controls the past controls the future.”
He suggests that
the past is disappearing because many people don’t care about the past but do care about creating a past that supports their view of the present.
The way to prevent this sort of Orwellian possibility is to Read more
Seriously. If I start dozing off, somebody should nudge me. It’s after lunch Day Two and it’s gonna be a struggle. But I am in a decent sounding session – thinking historically with world history documents. So I’m sure I’m gonna be okay.
I’m constantly hearing from 6th grade teachers who are struggling to find and use primary sources with ancient history content and am hoping Matt Elms and Doug Behse are going to help.
Matt and Doug, from a middle school in Singapore, are sharing their strategies for historical thinking with ancient world history. Much of what they do is based on the work of Sam Wineburg and his stuff at the Stanford History Education Group. They also use a scaffolding tool they call SCAN. They noticed kids whipping through primary sources. And were concerned.
SCAN helps Read more
Mark Hofer and Kathy Swan suggest that students are great consumers of information but aren’t necessarily great producers of information.
And the Common Core and new NCSS standards are asking our kids to do more creating. What does that look like? Mark and Kathy see great possibilities with new technologies that support student-created documentaries.
They’re very convincing. Video creation can align to reading and writing and communicating skills required in the Common Core literacy standards. Video can align to historical content. Video can be engaging.
But, they warn, beware the green pancake. Eating a green pancake will get someone’s attention but the pancake doesn’t taste any different or provide any more nutrition. It’s just green. But we can get very excited about it because, well . . . it’s green. So it must be really good.
It’s the shiny object idea I’ve talked about before. Technology, while important, is not necessary in every step of the documentary creation process. Make sure that kids are focused on the gathering of social studies content, on answering big ideas and rich questions, and on creating original solutions. Then you can begin to incorporate technology.
Mark talked about the idea of using Evidence-Based Arguments as a starting point. Every historical investigation needs to begin with a great question. Then they asked kids to do research and create videos. But what they got was disappointing. What they got was basically text with pictures, a script with a background. It wasn’t a story, it wasn’t engaging, and it often didn’t really answer the question. They begin to realize that they needed to learn more about how to create high-quality documentaries, how to use images and video to actually tell a story.
And eventually they came up with a Four Step Process that students work through to create high-quality documentaries: Read more
With an awesome name like Bruce VanSledright, you know the guy just has to have his arms wrapped around what quality assessment looks like. I have seen some of his earlier stuff but haven’t heard his thoughts on assessment.
So we’ll see. I have faith.
The idea is that we can use the NCSS College, Career, and Civic Life standards to help use figure out good assessment stuff. Bruce starts out by highlights problems with past and current bubble, MC type tests that focus on foundational knowledge.
These “traditional” kinds of tests are great at measuring the capacity of students to memorize details, to recall isolated knowledge bits, assessments are often designed to actually measure the reliability of the tests themselves, and – just a little tongue in cheek – to measure our ability to teach to the test.
Bruce says that much of what we can do with the actual data from these sorts of tests is pretty limited. They provide no timely formative information. And rarely is the data actually tied to individual students any way.
So how can the NCSS standards help us re-think assessment? Read more
The Shoah Foundation has 52,000 testimonies in 34 languages from 58 countries. The testimonies come from ten experience groups including survivors from Rwanda. The Foundation has over 105,000 hours of survivor testimony. For teachers, this is both good and bad. Good because you’ve got tons of resources. Bad . . . because you’ve got tons of resources.
Bad because you’re not sure how you can actually start trying using these incredible oral histories.
To solve this problem, the Foundation created a site called iWitness that sifts through the 105,000 hours and gives you access to a much smaller database of 1300 interviews. It also provides some very useful teaching resources and lesson plans.
What is visual history testimony? And why use it? Read more