The current buzz in the state of Kansas is the upcoming state level social studies assessment. It’s scheduled for full release during the 2015-2016 school year with a pilot release next spring.
It’ll be interesting.
Because we’re trying to do something that we haven’t done before. Measure historical thinking skills, not the ability to memorize foundational knowledge. We can’t just use simple multiple choice.
Obviously, part of the process is to encourage the teaching of these sorts of skills at the classroom level and to develop different types of assessment strategies that teachers can use.
Four online tools that you can use to measure the historical thinking skills of your kids: Read more
Are you kidding me? Seriously?
Thousands of historical newspapers from all over the country? Yup. And over 7,892,470 actual newspaper pages? Let that sink in for just a moment. Yup. But where, you ask, can I find such an incredible research tool? The very useful Chronicling America site from the Library of Congress, of course.
You’d think I’d be happy with almost eight million pages to play with. I mean, it’s 7,892,470 pages. Which is . . . you know, a lot. The 7,892,470+ pages cover newspapers from almost all 50 states and the District of Columbia from 1836 to 1922.
But once you get in the collection, it’s easy to get a little greedy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some coverage from the Civil War? The Great Depression? Prohibition? WWII? Vietnam? Hippies? 9/11?
Still . . . Read more
It was several years ago that I first heard Sam Wineburg. He was speaking at a combined Kansas / Missouri Council for History Education conference almost six years ago. I had read his stuff, agreeing with his ideas about how we needed to re-think our approach to teaching history.
And his presentation didn’t disappoint.
I’ve been in love ever since.
Much of our work on the recently approved Kansas state standards revolved around the sorts of things that Wineburg is pushing and the websites he’s created – thinking historically, using evidence, communicating solutions. But something he said back in 2008 has stuck with me:
I don’t think that a history class should be about things such as History Alive or about making cute posters, or about making history “engaging.” It’s about getting students to thinking rigorously about the evidence. Fun is okay, but I would rather have them hate the class and come out of the class having the skills needed to be good citizens than having them enjoy themselves.
I used to do a lot of “project-based” learning back in the day. It was fun and kids were engaged but I know now that not much high-level thinking was going on. You know the kinds of stuff I’m talking about – three fold brochures highlighting Civil War battles, oral presentations that required historical costumes, and lots of coloring.
Nothing wrong with fun projects . . . unless kids can do all of it without actually doing some sort of historical thinking.
But I recently ran across a cool article that reminded me that it is possible to teach high-quality social studies while still having fun. Written by Tim Grove, Chief of Museum Learning at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and author of A Grizzly in the Mail and Other Adventures in American History, suggests five concepts that we should incorporate into our instructional designs.
I started using the idea of the four C’s several years ago when we began work on revising the Kansas state social studies standards. I liked the idea that lessons and units could be structured around four basic teaching and learning concepts:
Ask kids to gather and organize information. Encourage them to work with others to make sense of information. Support students as they create new products and solutions. Validate student work by finding ways for them to share out what they know.
It wasn’t necessarily a new concept. But for most social studies teachers wrestling with the expectation that historical thinking skills (rather than basic historical knowledge) were the key to a successful classroom, the C4 Framework made sense. It helped them begin to organize the teaching and learning around the notion of doing of history rather than focusing on rote memorization. So I continued to work with teachers to integrate the C4 Framework idea into their classrooms, modified presentations, developed materials, and created a simple website.
Of course, last fall the National Council for the Social Studies released their national standards – the College, Career, and Civic Life Standards – and promptly dubbed them the C3 Framework.
Sigh. Read more
You gotta love the Twitter. Seriously. Even you choose to not use it at a personal level, there’s just too much stuff you and students can do with it.
Historical re-creations. Tweets as historical characters. Exit card activities. Assign homework. Virtual study rooms. Question and answer sessions with students. Connect with parents. With other teachers. With other classrooms. Provide study tips. Ask questions. Share ideas. Real time chats. Follow breaking news and current events.
History as haiku. Read more