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Posts tagged ‘lesson plans’

Does your lesson suck? Find out with this rubric

I’ve been having some interesting conversations over the last few weeks with my buddy Steve. Basically, the conversation has focused on a simple question:

How do teachers know whether they’re good at what they do?

We’ve been trying to figure out what types of data could provide information to help us understand what good teaching actually looks like. Part of that discussion involves asking students to provide part of the data.


But browse through an article, Why Kids Should Grade Teachers, from The Atlantic that discusses the power of student feedback. And you may not agree with all of it. I get that. But the idea still makes sense to me. Kids spent months in our classrooms – their perspective is important in helping us understand the impact we’re having on them, good and bad.

I’ve attached a couple of quick sample surveys. Feel free to adapt them for content and age levels.

But there is other information that can also be useful to answering the original question. We can use all sorts of data to get feedback about quality instruction.

One of the most useful is Read more

Crisis in Ukraine: Teaching resources

Looking for some resources to help with class discussions on the crisis in Ukraine? Here’s a quick short list.


Teaching resources and lesson plans:

And don’t go anywhere without checking out what Larry Ferlazzo has to share both here and here.

Tip of the Week: 3 Visual Thinking Strategies

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

Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation and very handy instructional resources

I ran across the Jewish Partisans group last fall while browsing through the vendor area at NCSS last November and walked away impressed with their resources and materials. It’s a group I hadn’t heard of but their stuff seemed to fit perfectly into a lesson I’ve been using to focus on historical thinking skills. So I spent some time at their booth and came away impressed. I’m waiting on some of their free goodies and, while I’m not a World War II / Holocaust expert, what I’ve seen so far is pretty impressive.

What is the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation?

Most people have never heard of the 20,000-30,000 Jews who fought back against the Nazis as Jewish partisans. These Jews were responsible for thwarting the Nazi war machine in countless ways. This information has the power to transform people’s perception of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust.

The mission of the JPEF is to develop and distribute effective educational materials about the Jewish partisans and their life lessons, bringing the celebration of heroic resistance against tyranny into educational and cultural organizations.

JPEF’s goal is to engage and educate teens about the Jewish partisans. Recognizing that this learning can take place in a variety of settings, they’ve put together a variety of resources and materials.

I think we fail to tell the entire story if we don’t include these sorts of accounts into our World War II and Holocaust lessons. Many of our students have a perception that all Jews (and other groups persecuted during World War II) passively submitted to German orders. The story of the Partisans can be an eye-opening tale that highlights one of the  many ways that Jews resisted the efforts of Germans and their allies.

What are their resources? Read more

Tip of the Week: Sochi Winter Olympics Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources

It’s Wednesday. And Wednesday is not the normal day for a Tip of the Week. But the Sochi Winter Olympics start tomorrow and you might be looking for some instructional goodies. Here’s what I’ve got: Read more

Mounuments Men: “Art is long, life is short”

I’m sitting here in a comfy chair warming up by the fireplace, with laptop in hand and a nice cup of coffee nearby. It’s a snow day pretty much everywhere in the state of Kansas and I’m catching up on my to-do list.

One of the things to check off? The Monuments Men.

It’s an incredible true story. It’s a book. And this weekend, it’s a movie coming out starring, well . . . a bunch of my favorite actors. Bill Murray. George Clooney. John Goodman. Matt Damon. Cate Blanchett.

Early reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes seem mixed. But I’ll be going no matter what. I’m a sucker for movies based on historical events. Argo. Lincoln. Band of Brothers. Hotel Rwanda. Glory. Gettysburg. All the President’s Men. The Mission.

I’m hoping for the best but I’m sure that through the whole thing I’ll be making mental notes about the lack of historical accuracy and the jumbling of facts for dramatic effect. Because we all know that the book is always better. Always.

But I’ll also get over it. The book is always better but it’s also always interesting to see how the story “looks,” how the movie tells its version of events. Because the story is a great tale. If you haven’t gotten the drift from all the movie ads, here are the basics: Read more


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