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Posts tagged ‘tip’

Tip of the Week: 21 Mockingjay and Hunger Games lesson plans

It’s coming. If you haven’t been paying attention and don’t know what I’m talking about, chat for a few minutes with some of your students. I’m guessing that they can help you out.

Yup. That’s right. The third and final movie version of the Hunger Games Trilogy (okay . . . just the first half of the third book. I hate when they do that.) opens November 21 and is already setting records for advanced ticket sales. And it’s likely that the movie will continue to set records after it opens.


Cause people love the book. Seriously love the book.

I became very aware of the power that Katniss and other Hunger Games characters have on people when my daughter and wife started reading the series four years ago. And the more I talked with them and as they shared more about the story, I began to realize the possibilities for integrating that story into social studies instruction.

Way back in September 2010, I wrote

I’ve heard from some that this sort of thing is too much like “entertaining” students. 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.

I still believe that. The Hunger Games series gives us a wonderful hook for teasing out some amazing social studies themes and topics.

Hope. And courage. Loyalty and trust. Democracy. The power of the media. Control vs. freedom. The cost of war and violence.

There have been, and will continue to be, conversations about the violence in the series. Author Suzanne Collins shares her thoughts:

One of the reasons it’s important for me to write about war is I really think that the concept of war, the specifics of war, the nature of war, the ethical ambiguities of war are introduced too late to children. I think they can hear them, understand them, know about them, at a much younger age without being scared to death by the stories. It’s not comfortable for us to talk about, so we generally don’t talk about these issues with our kids. But I feel that if the whole concept of war were introduced to kids at an earlier age, we would have better dialogues going on about it, and we would have a fuller understanding.

And for social studies teachers, you’ve got politics and geography. (especially the geography!) Economic decisions. Connections to historical events. Connections to contemporary events.

But what might that look like in the classroom? What resources are out there? Read more

Tip of the Week: Google Cultural Institute

Today it’s all about the Constructivist learning. I’m going to share a few things and will leave it up to you to do most of the exploring. There is literally so much stuff that is available for me to share at today’s Tip that there is absolutely no way I could cover it all.

How much stuff you ask?

How about over 6,000,000 artifacts and photos? So . . . you’re gonna be on your own on this one.

Titled the Google Cultural Institute, you can seriously get lost in here for hours. Think the largest museum you can think of, then multiply that by a very large number and you get a sense of what’s available. And I’m not even talking about the whole Institute. Just the Historic Moments and World Wonders sections.

Ready to dive in? Read more

Tip of the Week: Primary sources writing prompts aligned to Bloom’s Taxonomy

If you haven’t spent at least a few hours at the TPS-Barat blog site, you’re missing out. They’ve got some amazing resources designed specifically to support hisitorical thinking. Using funds and support from the Library of Congress, the Barat Educational Foundation created a site focused on the effective use of primary sources in the classroom. Titled TPS-Barat Primary Source Nexus, the site has themed sets of primary sources, teaching strategies, online and face to face professional development, and tech integration tips.

Seriously. Be prepared to spend some time there. Plus you knows it’s all good cause the LOC is involved.

I recently ran across a little bit of their goodness that seems like a no-brainer.  As we shift our instructional focus to include more historical thinking process and literacy, using primary and secondary sources should be one of our prime strategies. But it can be difficult integrating the use of primary source images with literacy activities.

The good news?

TPS-Barat has got you covered. They’ve developed a whole series of writing prompts aligned to Bloom’s Taxonomy that are designed for use with images and photos.

Read more

Tip of the Week: Listen Current equals NPR goodness

I got an email several weeks ago about a new online teaching tool called Listen Current. It sounded interesting but threw it on the back burner because of other stuff going on at the time. I got the chance to play with Listen Current this week and I’m thinking that I should have looked at it a lot sooner.

Cause it is very sweet.

According to their own propaganda, Listen Current “makes it easy to bring authentic voices and compelling non-fiction stories to the classroom. We curate the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time.”

Basically that means that Listen Current provides access to audio clips from National Public Radio and other public networks from around the world that cover both current events and historical topics. The clips are short and easy to use with students. But that’s not all that the site can do for you.

Read more

Tip of the Week: How We Got to Now

If you haven’t read any of Steven Johnson stuff, you are way behind the curve. He has some awesome insight – especially when he starts talking about the big pictures of history.

For the last 20 years or so, he has taken small events and connected them to larger themes. In The Ghost Map, Johnson connects a 19th century epidemic in London to 21st century urban design. In The Invention of Air, Johnson walks you through English coffeeshops to the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment.

His latest book, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, he continues the practice of showing how seemingly minor items such as eyeglasses or clocks have had – and continue to have – massive impacts on how people live.

He reminds me of Mr. Tomayko. Tomayko was my high school history / government / econ teacher and he was awesome. Great conversations. Great connections between past and present. And great connections between small and big picture.

The book is very cool. It looks at six broad themes across world history by focusing on specific examples.

  • Glass
  • Cold
  • Sound
  • Clean
  • Time
  • Light

But even cooler? Johnson has

Read more

Tip of the Week: History, Government, & Social Studies Skills by Grade and Discipline

When I sit back and think about the changes in social studies instruction and learning that have happened here in Kansas over the last few years, I’m always a wee bit amazed. Good teachers across the state have always asked kids to read and write and use evidence and think historically. But up until two or three years ago, the focus for many had been on simply having kids collect and memorize historical data.

The conversation is changing. Teachers and administrators are now talking more about the process of social studies rather than just the data. Teachers are looking at and using Sam Wineburg’s stuff over at SHEG. They’re using more literacy activities, more fiction and non-fiction, and generally having better discussions about what quality social studies looks like.

A huge hat tip to Don Gifford, social studies consultant at the Kansas Department of Education, for driving all of this forward. He put together a team of educators from across the state to rewrite the Kansas standards, facilitated the writing, and maneuvered the document through the hoops needed to get unanimous approval from the state board. He’s busy at the moment trying to create a state assessment that measures historical thinking while combining it with the ELA writing assessment. And, since this really hasn’t ever been done before, it’s an interesting and complicated process.

All of this to say that there is a lot of transformation happening here in the Sunflower state. And that’s a good thing. But change is never easy and so the struggle as been to find ways to ease people into the idea of teaching process AND content. To find resources and scaffolding to help teachers see what this sort of instruction and learning can look like in practice.

One of the powerful pieces of the state document is the Literacy Expectations and Best Practices section. It highlights those things that students and teachers should be doing in a high-quality classroom.

But what I often hear is that Read more


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