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
When I sit back and think about the changes in social studies instruction and learning that have happened here in Kansas over the last few years, I’m always a wee bit amazed. Good teachers across the state have always asked kids to read and write and use evidence and think historically. But up until two or three years ago, the focus for many had been on simply having kids collect and memorize historical data.
The conversation is changing. Teachers and administrators are now talking more about the process of social studies rather than just the data. Teachers are looking at and using Sam Wineburg’s stuff over at SHEG. They’re using more literacy activities, more fiction and non-fiction, and generally having better discussions about what quality social studies looks like.
A huge hat tip to Don Gifford, social studies consultant at the Kansas Department of Education, for driving all of this forward. He put together a team of educators from across the state to rewrite the Kansas standards, facilitated the writing, and maneuvered the document through the hoops needed to get unanimous approval from the state board. He’s busy at the moment trying to create a state assessment that measures historical thinking while combining it with the ELA writing assessment. And, since this really hasn’t ever been done before, it’s an interesting and complicated process.
All of this to say that there is a lot of transformation happening here in the Sunflower state. And that’s a good thing. But change is never easy and so the struggle as been to find ways to ease people into the idea of teaching process AND content. To find resources and scaffolding to help teachers see what this sort of instruction and learning can look like in practice.
One of the powerful pieces of the state document is the Literacy Expectations and Best Practices section. It highlights those things that students and teachers should be doing in a high-quality classroom.
But what I often hear is that Read more
One of the obvious reasons for attending professional conferences and workshops is the opportunity for checking out new BBQ restaurants. Of course, there is that whole learning new stuff, meeting new people, attending sessions idea too.
And last week’s KCHE / MOCHE Best Practices conference in downtown Kansas City gave me the chance to check off both. Got to eat some great BBQ and do all of that other stuff. I really did walk away smarter (and thanks to Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, also just a little bit rounder.)
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from my two days? Read more
It’s day two of the Best Practices conference. I love this sort of stuff – the conference isn’t that big but that just means a lot more conversation and working together. So we all are walking away smarter.
This morning’s session is focused on training elementary kids to think like a historian. Lyndsay and Amy are from Olathe, Kansas and are sharing how engaged kids are when they’re asked to solve problems using historical evidence.
They’re big fans of Sam Wineburg’s Stanford History Education Group site and are showing how third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers can use the resources on the site. I especially like the SHEG Historical Thinking Chart and the posters that explain the skills kids need to make sense of evidence.
I spent the day at the Best Practices in History Education conference here in Kansas City. Good times.
Learning new things. Meeting new people. Touring the World War One Museum. Browsing the museum store. Eating some BBQ.
I also got the chance to share some of my own ideas about ways to integrate technology into the NCSS Inquiry Arc by walking through a sample lesson. The Arc is designed to help teachers organize instruction and learning:
- developing questions and planning inquiries
- applying disciplinary concepts and tools
- evaluating sources and using evidence
- communicating conclusions and taking informed action
We discussed my C4 Framework as another easy way to help teachers plan lessons and units.
The three tasty tools and their C4 Framework alignment?
- Google Earth and its sweet Historical Imagery tool / Collect
- Padlet / Collaborate
- Canva / Create and Communicate
So we spent some time talking about ways to use both Google Earth screenshots and Google Earth software to help students source and contextualize primary source evidence. We spent some time discussing how Padlet can be used as a collaborative document analysis tool. And we chatted about ways that Canva provides a tool for web-based product creation.
Get a sense of the Google Earth stuff here. Get a sample of Padlet here and an example of Canva here. You can also get a ton of other tech suggestions and a Slideshare version of my presentation here.