You may be getting tired of hearing about the work of Sam Wineburg. I do talk about his stuff a lot. I do.
But it’s because the stuff created by Wineburg and others over at the Stanford History Education Group is so good. I’m sure you’ve all been to their site and looked at the 80+ lesson plans – all structured around the concepts of high level historical thinking. I’m sure you’ve all been to the newer Beyond the Bubble historical thinking assessment site.
But perhaps all of you have not seen the the very useful Reading Like a Historian videos. The SHEG people have put together a great series of videos that demonstrated what historical thinking looks like.
To be honest, I’m a bit torn about the whole idea of Black History Month. The concept started way back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The hope was that the week would eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history teaching. In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The hope was that essential people, events, and places, routinely ignored, would be incorporated throughout the instructional year as part of social studies instruction.
But I’m torn.
I love history.
I love reading it. I love talking about it. I love arguing about it.
So when 40 middle school history teachers show up at my door for four days of talking and reading and arguing history, it’s like the best day ever.
We started our Century of Progress Teaching American History summer session today and I am so pumped! We’ve got four days together with some great presenters and activities planned. But, really, how cool is this? Four days with history teachers and scholars? It’s a perfect week.
The overarching theme this week is the American West. We’ve got Dr. Matthew Booker and Dr. Stephen Aron as our scholars and Tim Bailey as our instructional methods guy. Booker teaches at North Carolina State and focuses on western environmental stuff and Aron, from UCLA, is an expert on the borderlands. Tim is from Salt Lake City, was the 2009 Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year and has some great strategies to share.
I’ll be posting stuff throughout the week with an attempt at finding a balance between content and instructional strategies. But we’ll also be posting lots of resources on our project web site. Be sure to head over there to download handouts and other goodies. You’ll also find videos of presentations and links to web sites that we’ll be using.
Matthew just mentioned that he loves this sort of week because
it lets me get my history geek on!
So I’m not alone. If you’re a history person, this is the place to be this week. Check back often!
Several months ago, I had the chance to listen to and meet Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss at the Laptop Leaders Academy at Mitchell, SD. They are doing some incredibly cool stuff with PBL around the country and so I’ve been following their blog these last few months.
A recent post at Reinventing Project-Based Learning was a link to an Edutopia PDF document that can “jump starting” the beginning of the school year. It’s got ten tips and useful resources to help you integrate technology into your instruction.
Useful stuff! Find it here.
With many teachers heading back to the classroom this week, several recent conversations seem appropriate here. I spent some time talking with secondary social studies teachers and a few elementary teachers about the kinds of things they plan on doing during the first few days of school.
I’ve posted five of those ideas below.
1. Use Wordle to have kids generate their own personal word clouds. Have them enter words that describe their physical traits, personality, hobbies, interests, books, video games . . . really anything that would help someone else get a clear picture of who they are. Don’t forget to create one of your own.
Later during the school year, have kids use Wordle to do the same thing by describing historical characters.
2. Create a short tech survey for kids to complete. The quickest way to gather data would be to use Google Docs to create an online survey but paper and pencil work too. This gives you data that can help you plan instruction. Questions should include such things as:
- do you have a computer at home?
- do you have a cell phone?
- what is your text plan?
- other mobile devices?
- internet speed at home?
- digital camera?
3. We’re never too old to go back and read the classics. During the first few weeks of school, review Harry Wong’s – The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher
4. Head over to the web site titled: 101 Things You Can Do During the First Three Weeks of School. It’s written from a higher ed perspective but has some insight and ideas for dealing with students. One of my new favorites is to take lots of pictures early on and post them around the room and online. It’s a quick and easy way to generate a “family” feel in your room.
5. All of us should be asking students to complete at least one learning styles or multiple intelligences survey early on in the school year. The more we know about how they learn, the better our instruction and their learning become.
You can find a collection of several different types of surveys that I’ve put together over at Social Studies Central.
Have a great week!