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Posts tagged ‘professional development’

Books that shaped America. Mmm . . .

As part of the celebration of their 100th birthday, the US Department of Labor recently put together a list titled “Books That Shaped Work in America.” It’s an interesting list. And I will be the first to admit that more than several of the books are unfamiliar to me and that more than several of the books are . . . mmm . . . interesting selections.

I mean, I get why The Jungle made the list. Why Liar’s Poker made the list. Even Busy Busy Town (a personal favorite). But still scratching my head a bit on I’m a Frog and Madam Secretary. That’s the cool thing about lists – everyone has a different opinion. I also like the idea that the Department of Labor asked current and former employees to create the list.

But it got me thinking. Read more

Historians on Twitter

I love Twitter. I probably don’t use it enough or in a way that maximizes its potential. But I still love it. I also think we need to be using it as both a professional development and instructional tool.

And I just ran across Russel Tarr’s very sweet list of historians on Twitter. It’s a big list, and it’s growing every day, but it is a nice place to start if you’re looking to add to your follow list. He also has a great list of History Educators – more of a focus on classroom teachers.

And don’t forget to head back to his ActiveHistory page and all of his Class Tools like FakeBook and Fake Tweet.

Reading lists and intentional personal professional development

I have a confession to make. I failed. And it’s not the first time. Though there is a silver lining – I didn’t fail as bad as I’ve failed in the past.

Back in May, I listed eight books that I planned to read over the summer. Five work related and three, you know . . . just for fun. And just like every summer I’ve created a reading list, I failed to finish the list. But I came close. I went seven for eight.

The secret? Go tech naked for five days and knock out four books one right after the other. In addition to the summer reading list, there was also a brief Civil War kick in early summer related to the 150th Gettysburg anniversary.

And of course, there’s always the annual Wiebe Labor Day bookapolloza.

books thai text

This year’s take.

For the last six or seven years, over the Labor Day weekend, my family and I travel to some exotic city (like Kansas City or Wichita), eat the same sort of food all weekend, and visit as many bookstores as we can. And, of course, we always name the weekend. Among other things. we’ve had Burgers and Books, BBQ and Books, Bolognese and Books.

This year? We wanted to focus on Asian food but couldn’t come up with a “B” word that went with “Books.”

We ended up with Thai and Texts.

Yeah. Not near as catchy. But still a good weekend. Great food. Great conversation. And four bookstores.

Nice story, Glenn. Thanks for sharing. But what’s the point? Read more

Eat your own dog food

In a recent article in Wired magazine, author Clive Thompson suggests that members of Congress should eat their own dog food. Thompson describes the “hardships” Congressmen had to endure as they waited in long airport security lines, rushing out of town on their way to hit up potential donors. Long lines they created by failing to solve federal budget issues, a failure that kicked in the ridiculous sequester idea.

Critics warned that the sequester would cause hardship throughout the country, but congress-folk didn’t care — until they had to share in the pain. When they discovered that the sequester was eating into their vacation time, they rushed back to the Capitol and passed a law restoring funding to airports, working so fast that part of the bill was handwritten. Congress, it turns out, isn’t paralyzed. It’s just not motivated. In this spirit, there’s one simple way to get our do-nothing legislators off the dime: Have them eat their own dog food.

Thompson goes on to describe a term I had never heard of before. In the world of software coding, “dogfooding” describes the habit of programmers actually using their own products, “day in and day out.” Invented in the early 1980s, the term – and the practice – continues because it works. Forced to live with their own code, programmers can quickly see what works and what doesn’t work. And just as quickly fix it.

Thompson suggests that Washington would be a bit more successful if Congress actually experienced life as they code it. They don’t live like . . . well, like you and me. Incredibly cheap and well run health insurance. Private schools for their kids. Great pensions. People throwing money at them left and right.

They don’t really understand what happens in the rest of the country when they pass (or don’t pass) legislation. They don’t eat their own dog food.

So.

Step back a minute. What does this have to do with social studies teachers? I’ll wait. Think this through a bit. Read more

10 things you can do this week that will make you a better teacher

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working together with a variety of different teacher groups in a variety of different places. But all of the conversations have somehow shifted back to the same basic compelling question:

What does an effective teacher look like?

It’s a great question to ask. We’ve always paid lip service to professional development and learning but it seems as if only recently has the question been taken seriously. The Common Core literacy standards for history and the newly revised Kansas history/government standards are demanding more from our kids – and from us.

So I started thinking about things we can do to get better as social studies teachers. Not stuff organized by our administrators. Informal sorts of things that can make us more effective. I came up with ten. I’m sure there are more but ya gotta start somewhere.

What would you add? Subtract from the list?

Read more

Liquid Networks, PLNs, and growing professionally

So what does a liquid network look like?

  • Start by having a conversation about the themes of A Clockwork Orange and A Brave New World with your college-age son home for the holiday break. Realize that the topic has morphed over into brain research. Reference Steven Johnson’s book titled Mind Wide Open. During Mind Wide Open conversation remember that Johnson’s latest book, Where Good Ideas Come From, also references brain research and collaboration.
  • Continue the conversation later on historyfriend’s blog post about creating a community of scholars. Reference Johnson’s Good Ideas book. Do search for link to book. Instead, find a TED talk by Johnson about his book. Listen to the TED talk. Suggest video to historyfriend.
  • Share discussion with face to face office colleagues and online network. Gather more ideas about how best to organize classrooms for collaborative learning. Realize that these ideas would be perfect for your upcoming cohort session of 40 middle school teachers.
  • Walk away smarter because son, Johnson, historyfriend, Amazon, TED, office colleagues, and online friends all combined to help you develop a new idea for how to organize a Teaching American History meeting.

Read more

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