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Posts tagged ‘history tech’

Tip of the Week: How We Got to Now

If you haven’t read any of Steven Johnson stuff, you are way behind the curve. He has some awesome insight – especially when he starts talking about the big pictures of history.

For the last 20 years or so, he has taken small events and connected them to larger themes. In The Ghost Map, Johnson connects a 19th century epidemic in London to 21st century urban design. In The Invention of Air, Johnson walks you through English coffeeshops to the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment.

His latest book, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, he continues the practice of showing how seemingly minor items such as eyeglasses or clocks have had – and continue to have – massive impacts on how people live.

He reminds me of Mr. Tomayko. Tomayko was my high school history / government / econ teacher and he was awesome. Great conversations. Great connections between past and present. And great connections between small and big picture.

The book is very cool. It looks at six broad themes across world history by focusing on specific examples.

  • Glass
  • Cold
  • Sound
  • Clean
  • Time
  • Light

But even cooler? Johnson has

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The Green Book, Jim Crow, and historical thinking

It’s always a good day when you get the chance to learn something new. Today was a good day. Today I learned about an incredible primary source called the Green Book. As a lover of history and collector of primary sources, the Green Book is both incredibly interesting and incredibly depressing at the same time. Interesting because it’s such a rich primary source. Depressing because it was needed.

The full title of the book is The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide and was first published in 1936. The book was printed every year after that until 1965.

We often talk about the great American road trip. College kids take them. Families travel across  the country. My own experience? Second grade. Mom, dad, my five siblings, and a station wagon. Kansas to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Disney Land, and back. It’s as American as apple pie and baseball.

But for African Americans prior to the 1960s and 70s, this sort of trip was difficult, often embarrassing, and potentially deadly. Jim Crow laws, Sundown Towns, and unwritten rules often made finding hotels and restaurants open to black travelers impossible.

Cotton Seiler, the author of Republic of Drivers: A Cultural History of Automobility in America, suggests that for much of our history Read more

8 tech tools that encourage literacy skills

Some of them are low tech. Some are more sophisticated. Some are mobile apps. Some are not. Some are completely free. Some start free and allow for upgrades. None of them are silver bullets. None of them are going to save the world.

But I think we need to be using them more. These eight tools, and others like them, can change how we teach and how students learn. And I think any tool that does that – whether it’s paper and pencil or a mobile app – is a good thing.

In a recent article over at Huffinton Post, Dylan Arena, Ph.D., co-founder and chief learning scientist at Kidaptive states that

Technology by itself will almost never change education. The only way to change educational practices is to change the beliefs and values of teachers, administrators, parents and other educational stakeholders–and that’s a cultural issue, not a technological one . . . It’s about processes and people rather than bits and bytes.

These eight tools seem particularly effective at encouraging and supporting literacy skills. I’ve talked about many of these before but I think when they are clumped together, they become especially powerful in helping kids read and write in new and impactful ways.

There has been, and continues to be, a lot of conversation about reading, writing, and communicating skills. When I get to be a part of those conversations, I share the following lists with social studies folks. Pretty sure they’ll work across a lot of other content areas as well. Read more

Tip of the Week: History, Government, & Social Studies Skills by Grade and Discipline

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

7 Free iPad App / Tech Integration Task Challenges

Several months ago at Podstock 2014, we spent most of an afternoon working on iPad and Tech Integration Challenges. An iPad or Tech Integration Challenge is basically a do it yourself tutorial that walks people through the process of learning a specific tool or app.

We had a ton of fun. We demo-ed a few tools, brainstormed possible integration strategies in small groups, and then folks fanned out and learned new stuff. And created new products. And came up with a host of new integration ideas.

Since then, I’ve had the chance to create a few more challenges and use them with a few more people. And it’s always a good time. People get the chance to learn at their own pace. To pick and choose what they learn. And to figure stuff out by themselves or in small groups.

I’d like to share seven of my latest iPad and Tech Integration Challenges.

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Tip of the Week: Kansas social studies conference is gonna be awesome

For some of you, this post may not be that relevant. You don’t live close to Kansas. Or maybe you’re not a social studies teacher. But if you live in Kansas, or close to Kansas, or don’t mind making a trip to Kansas and you’re a social studies teacher, have I got a deal for you.

For the last two years, the Kansas Department of Education, the Kansas Council for History Education, and the Kansas Council for the Social Studies has co-hosted a one day conference focused on best practices and instructional resources. It’s always a great time. You make new friends. You meet old friends. You eat great food. You walk away with door prizes. And you always learn a ton.

The Kansas Geographic Alliance, the Kansas Council for Economic Education, and the Kansas Historical Society all show up as well. Basically, if you have a question about social studies, this conference is the place to be. And it really is for anyone who wants to be a part of an awesome learning opportunity.

This school year, the conference is scheduled for Read more


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