If you haven’t already figured it out, I can be a bit of a cynic. And becoming more so as the last ads of the campaign cycle through. (I’m looking at you Kansas Governor Brownback. Seriously? You’re running this ad?)
But I’m a firm believer that one of the most important duties we have as US citizens is to vote. In every election. Dogcatcher to president. So next Tuesday is already on my calendar. The sad thing is that many of us won’t be voting next week. Typical turnout for midterm elections is around 40%. And I thing that at least some of that has to do with a lack of information.
Where do I vote? When are voting hours? Sad to say but I still hear questions such Who’s running?
To help solve some of the confusion the Voting Information Project (VIP), developed by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Google, and election officials nationwide, is offering tools that give voters access to the customized information they need to cast a ballot on or before Election Day.
The widget below comes from the VIP. Get your own embed code here. Get the WordPress code here.
And help get people to where they belong next Tuesday.
(Need a few more election tools? Head here for a quick list.)
There’s nothing like a good history museum. Interactive displays. Interesting artifacts. Knowledgeable docents. Done well, a museum visit is not just a good time but can be an incredible learning experience.
That’s sort of the point, isn’t it? Especially if I’m a classroom teacher. Having students connect with evidence and explore possible theories in an environment specifically designed to support learning is something we all want for our kids.
And most history museums work very hard to find ways to get teachers and students into their buildings. The artifacts are there. The docents are there. The resources are there.
But more and more school districts are struggling to fund off-site field trips to history museums. Subs, entrance fees, fuel costs all add to make it difficult to get kids from schools into places like the Kansas History Museum. And so many museums, have been forced to develop a variety of tools that attempt to replicate actual visits.
They create and ship out traveling trunks. Create and post lesson plans online. use photos and videos to give a sense of artifacts and displays. Many museums are experimenting with online chats using Skype or Google Hangout.
Museum and Education Director Mary Madden and her staff at the Kansas Museum of History have done all of that. Their Traveling Trunks are very cool. The Read Kansas cards are a great example of practical and aligned lesson plans that focus on literacy and social studies.
But two days ago, Mary stepped into a whole new world. Together with Curriculum Specialist Marcia Fox, Mary led Read more
Many of you have asked for specific resources that focus on the upcoming mid-term elections. Hopefully this quick list of tools will help:
“Sorting out the truth in politics”
Access. Analyze. Act
Discover the power of social media while promoting your students’ civic engagement
CNN Election Center
Monitoring the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players
FactCheck’s educator’s page
Who’s buying your politician?
Originally designed for the 2008 election, this site does a great job breaking down election data
Tracks political polls for U.S. federal elections
Yahoo Political Dashboard
Same thing, just from Yahoo
HuffPost Election Center
Great charts and graphs
Talking Points Memo Poll Tracker
All Sides Election Center
Sweet site that provides news / commentary from left, center, right perspectives
VoteSmart / VoteEasy
How to vote and who you should vote for
C-Span’s Election Classroom
Center for Action Civics
Student News Daily
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
I got an email several weeks ago about a new online teaching tool called Listen Current. It sounded interesting but threw it on the back burner because of other stuff going on at the time. I got the chance to play with Listen Current this week and I’m thinking that I should have looked at it a lot sooner.
Cause it is very sweet.
According to their own propaganda, Listen Current “makes it easy to bring authentic voices and compelling non-fiction stories to the classroom. We curate the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time.”
Basically that means that Listen Current provides access to audio clips from National Public Radio and other public networks from around the world that cover both current events and historical topics. The clips are short and easy to use with students. But that’s not all that the site can do for you.
Over the last few months, I’ve written several times about evidence-based terms. Evidence-based terms are words and phrases that can help your kids write stronger and more effective argumentative essays.
These might phrases such as:
- The author stated
- On page five, the text suggested
- From the reading I know that
Using these sorts of words encourages the integration of historical thinking skills into activities focused on meeting ELA literacy standards.
Late last week, I ran across a similar sort of document that I used with both my middle school kids and college students. I called them Magic Words. Magic because using these words in their writing forced students to focus on what they learned in terms of time, cause and effect, spatial and personal relationships, and possible alternative versions of history. Read more