I don’t think my daughter would mind me telling you that she loves Marvel Comics. I also don’t think she is the only kid out there that loves Marvel Comics. Or DC Comics. Or the X-Men. O superheroes in general.
A lot of your kids are huge into comic books and graphic novels. I’ve said it many times, most recently regarding the Hunger Games series:
Some suggest that we shouldn’t have to use pop culture to teach social studies. I disagree. I will use pretty much whatever it takes to engage kids in content. And if the relationship between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale hooks students into a better understanding of civic and geographic concepts, we ought to be all over it.
The same thing can be said about the whole Marvel Comic world. It just seems like a great way to integrate reading and writing skills into your instruction. But I haven’t played in that world enough to put ideas and lessons and materials together so they can be used in the classroom.
The good news? Read more
I’ve had the privilege of working with 40 middle school social studies teachers this last week. It’s the last few days of a three year Teaching American History grant and, yes . . . some teared up a bit towards the end. It’s been a great ride. We’ve all learned a ton – both content and pedagogy.
This week, we had the incredible privilege of working with three history studs - Mark Fiege, Elliott West, and Thomas Andrews – while also learning more about the best ways to incorporate their history content into actual lessons.
Master Teacher Nathan McAlister walked us through a variety of learning activities including panning for gold, cutting up buffalo, and arguing pros/cons of fracking during a city council meeting.
One of the smaller activities we did was a bit simpler and much easier for you to drop directly into your instruction.
Called Fact Pyramid Because Box, Read more
We’ve always asked our kids to read. Informational text. Primary sources. Non-fiction. Fiction. Poetry. We’ve always asked our kids to write. Summaries. Research. Reviews. Reaction papers.
At least, that’s been the theory. Good social studies and history instruction has always included these things but I think that sometimes we can forget how critical reading and writing skills are to what we do. The Common Core, for better or worse, has been a good reminder for us. We need to have our kids read, write, and communicate much more.
The problem for many of us?
Uh . . . what does that look like again?
You’ve heard about iCivics before.
If you haven’t, quick overview. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor help created a very cool civics website with video games, teaching resources, and other standards aligned materials.
And it just got better. They’ve added Drafting Board.
Okay. I’ll be honest. I just found out about inklewriter but haven’t learned much about it yet. This week will be another busy conference week and I probably won’t have much time to play around with it.
So. You have homework. Go to inklewriter. Explore a bit. And report back here what you find out.
Some background. inklewriter is an online tool that lets you and your kids create interactive stories. You remember these, right? A story starts and after a few paragraphs, you are provided with two choices. You select a choice and the story branches off in that direction. A few paragraphs later, the story offers two new choices. The story continues to branch based on your choices.
A project of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, OurStory is designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through children’s literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities.
The National Museum of American History and the National Center for Family Literacy are teaming up on OurStory projects. They are working together to help make reading historical fiction more fun and educational.
The OurStory programs are designed to:
- teach children about history through the use of objects, documents, oral histories, and quality children’s literature
- improve student attitudes about reading through exposure to quality children’s literature and the opportunity to own books
- Foster an environment in which participants of different generations and cultural backgrounds interact, share, learn from one another, and begin to see themselves as part of American history.
- Broaden participants’ understanding of the history of diverse communities and cultures within the United States.
You’ll find 20 different American history activity sets with recommended books, teaching materials, and engaging activities all focused around historical fiction. You can also find useful links to other history / literacy sites.