It’s a double bonus type of day.
First, today is one of the last days of our Century of Progress Teaching American History project. So I get to spend all day with 41 middle school teachers and we talk about nothing except history stuff.
Today’s history stuff?
Chinese immigration during the late 1800s. And we’re tying in history content conversations with Joel Breakstone of the Stanford History Education Group. He’s sharing with us how to create lesson plans designed to train kids to think historically. There’s been some very helpful theoretical sorts of stuff focusing on historical thinking but also very practical suggestions about what a great lesson should look like.
Second, yesterday the Kansas Board of Education voted 9-0 to approve the proposed social studies standards. Some of us have been working on these for the last 20 months and to have them accepted for full implementation is pretty sweet.
Such a cool day! It’s like the perfect storm. New standards that focus on high level historical thinking skills and content/strategies that can help us meet those standards.
So I figured . . . why not share some of the goodies we talked about?
Like many families, mine spends part of every evening re-hashing the day – sharing experiences, discussing current events, solving the world’s problems, and arguing whether the X-Men are actual super heroes.
Earlier this week, during a discussion about school, my daughter blurted out:
I really don’t do anything at school. I’m asked to learn stuff that doesn’t mean anything to me in ways that are incredibly boring.
She and I have had this discussion before. She plays the game very well – straight A’s, great test scores. She knows the rules. And the traditional view of school would suggest that because she has a nice GPA she actually knows something. But every time I hear about worksheets, answering questions at the end of the chapter, or high school students reading out loud from the textbook to one another, I’m not convinced. Research is telling all of us that these sorts of instructional strategies don’t impact long-term learning.
Man! I would love to do this in my back yard. Okay . . . I would love to this in my neighbor’s back yard.
Somewhere we need to do this.
Andrew Robertshaw of Charlwood, England decided he wanted to build a World War I era trench in his garden. Robertshaw, age 55, then enlisted the help of 30 volunteers and built the 60 foot long trench – moving 200 tones of earth in the process – in about a month. After it was finished, he and a group of World War One re-enactors then camped in it for 24 hours to relive what WWI soldiers went through.
I love history. Most people do. At least they do once they graduate from high school. Historical fiction, biographies, history related movies. All end up on best seller and highest grossing movie lists.
There are lots of reasons why this seems to be true. Part of the problem is how it’s taught in school. And part of that problem is that we often don’t use video and movies correctly. Even my daughter knows this:
Don’t show a super long movie over three or four class periods. Especially if there’s no clear reason for me having to watch it.
I’ve written about using movies here and here but I started thinking this week about what sorts of useful clips live online. And some quick looking around revealed a variety of handy tools.
The UK Scholastic people have a very cool site called Horrible Histories. They’ve posted short clips of their longer videos on YouTube. A great way to introduce historical topics or as reflection/writing prompts.
My favorite? Historical Wife Swap Ancient Greece. Athenian and Spartan wives swap families ala the current reality television show.
Another handy online video clip site is Crash Course: World History. You’ll find quirky videos on a wide variety of historical topics. These are a bit longer than the Horrible History clips at about 12 minutes or so. And they are a bit more upper level. But still a lot of fun and a good way to introduce different historical periods and topics.
(The bonus thing? These sorts of videos seem much better suited for “flipping” history classrooms than some of the clunky Khan Academy type videos out there.)
What history based video sites am I missing?