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
It’s that time of year again. Constitution Day 2014. September 17.
You know the story. A group of guys from different parts of the country with different ideas of how to govern got together and came up with a pretty amazing document. My favorite Founding Father?
Ben Franklin. He’s kind of like the sleeper pick in your fantasy football league – everyone knows he’s out there but they ignore him because all the focus is on Jefferson or Madison or one of the other first rounders. But you draft him anyway cause you know he’s got the skills.
Ben was smart, irreverent, great with people, well-read, the ladies loved him, he had that whole kite / electricity / scientist thing working, and was by far the best part of 1776 and John Adams. What’s not to love?
And so it’s fun to go back and read some of what Ben had to say about the document he was preparing to sign: Read more
Finding online primary sources is never easy. While there are many online archives and tons of primary sources, we don’t always know where those archives live. Even if you can find a helpful archive online somewhere, it can be difficult tracking down exactly what you’re looking for. (This page might help a little.)
And I’m not sure today’s find is gonna help. But it is a very cool place to find primary sources that are incredibly interesting. Created and maintained by Salon, the site is called The Vault. You gotta love the site’s tagline:
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
So definitely continue to use to sites such as the Library of Congress, National Archives, and World History Documents but be sure to fav The Vault as well. Because you are going to run across stuff that is perfect for hooking your kids into a specific topic and for building content knowledge.
Some recent examples? Read more
As social studies teachers, it’s easy to get caught up in textual evidence. And that’s not always a bad thing – there are all sorts of sweet primary and secondary sources that we should be using with our kids.
But sometimes we don’t do enough to train students to focus on visual evidence. Photographs, maps, video games, charts, infographics, movie clips. These types of resources can be powerful pieces of the puzzle. So today? Three easy to use strategies for training kids to close read visual evidence.
The goal in all three strategies is to move kids along the continuum from simply seeing something to creating deeper meaning. When I work with students – no matter what strategy we’re using or what kind of evidence we’re looking at – I want them to jam into their brain these basic questions:
- What do you see?
- How can you organize what you see into patterns?
- What do the patterns tell you?‘
So here ya go. Three strategies to help your kids see better. Read more
Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle brings four outstanding films on the long civil rights movement to communities across the United States. As part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)’s Bridging Cultures initiative, Created Equal will encourage communities across the country to revisit the history of civil rights in America and to reflect on the ideals of freedom and equality that have helped bridge deep racial and cultural divides in our civic life. Four outstanding documentary films, spanning the period from the 1830s to the 1960s, are the centerpiece for this project. Each of these films was supported by NEH, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation.
These four films illustrate the majesty of the civil rights movement: Millions of ordinary brave Americans rose up, said ‘no more,’ and changed the nation forever.