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Posts tagged ‘school reform’

Tip of the Week: Moneyball, Doing Social Studies, and Other Helpful Resources

A couple of days ago I ran past the movie Moneyball during one of my late night sweeps through the videosphere and it jogged my thinking a bit. I had read the Michael Lewis book years ago and enjoyed the movie but not until this week did I really start to see the connections between Moneyball and social studies.

What caught my attention was a specific scene in the movie. Billy Bean, the main character, is being recruited to manage the Boston Red Sox baseball team. During the scene, the Sox owner says:

. . . anybody who’s not tearing down their team down right now, and rebuilding it using your model – they’re dinosaurs.

Yeah, I know. Without the context of the book / movie, it doesn’t really make sense. So if you haven’t already skimmed through my thoughts from earlier in the week, head over there for a quick Moneyball 101.

The point of the book / movie is to that doing things differently can be a good thing. It can be difficult at times but doing things the way we’ve always done them – simply because of tradition – doesn’t make sense. Billy Beane re-defined what success in baseball looked like by doing things differently.

Social studies is like that, I think. Read more

iPads are the problem, not the solution

At the recent EdTechTeacher iPad Summit held in Atlanta, Greg Kulowiec asked a simple question:

Is the iPad a solution or problem?

It’s a great question. There are tons of people jumping on the iPad bandwagon and I’ve suggested before that many of them are hopping on with their eyes closed. It’s a shiny tool that attracts a lot of attention. But is all of the attention a good thing? Greg says maybe not: Read more

So what’s my job?

An assessment researcher said once that

The role of the learner is not to passively receive information, but to actively participate in the construction of new meaning.

B. L. Shapiro, 1994

I would not disagree with that at all. In fact, much of the recent buzz in the K-12 social studies education movement has focused on the idea that kids need to be doing more and sitting less.

Thinking more. Analyzing more. Evaluating more. Creating more.

But if the role of social studies students is to actively participate in the construction of new knowledge, it sort of raises another question, doesn’t it?

What’s my job?

Complete the following sentence:

The role of the teacher is not to _________ but to __________.

It’s not just jeans. It’s how we teach.

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to say goodbye.

It’s never easy. We try to be brave but it’s hard. Knowing we’ll never be together again can be rough.

Guys. You know what I’m talking about. The day you have to throw away the t-shirt you won in that 1992 softball championship. Maybe it’s that awesome hoodie you got back when you and your buddies used to go skiing every year. Or it’s your favorite pair of jeans.

That’s me today. I’ve had these jeans for maybe ten years. Comfortable. Broken in. They have been the go to pair of pants for a decade. But at this point, even I have to admit perhaps they’re just a little too broken in.

old jeans

Read more

Social studies in the age of Siri

Twenty years ago if I had asked a kid who the 16th president was, I would have likely gotten a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. Ditto with stuff like the capital of Idaho, when the 14th Amendment was passed, and where the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

The shrugging of shoulders was mostly my fault. I taught in a very traditional style, with my focus on basic content. This method encouraged the memorization of a few facts just long enough to pass the unit test.

I didn’t know any better – it was the way I was taught and it was the way I was taught to teach. In that sort of classroom, long term retention and actual application of knowledge just weren’t going to happen.

We know better now.

Realistic problems. Collaboration. Analyzing evidence. Creation of authentic products. Integration of fiction and non-fiction. Use of technology. Formative assessment.

This is 21st century social studies.

Read more

History Geek Week Session Two: Ditching the Textbook, Teaching US History 1:1

I’ve been saying this for a while now. ePUBs and digital materials will change the way we do our job as social studies teachers. Textbooks will be replaced by interactive, multimedia rich, connected to social media types of materials.

Lincoln High School (Vincennes IN) teacher Michael Hutchison began planning for ditching the traditional textbook back in the spring of 2009.They were committed and used a quote from John Kennedy as their motivation to stay the course:

Frank O’Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall–and had no choice but to follow them.

November 21, 1963

They threw their hat over the wall and had to climb over.

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