It’s always a difficult task. If we’re going to have kids think historically and to solve problems, you’re gonna need two things. Engaging and authentic problems to solve. And . . . evidence they can use to solve the problem.
For teachers, of course, both of those things present a challenge. Creating great questions is not easy. NCLB and older standards encouraged us to feed kids low level questions that anyone with a cell phone could Google in a minute. Writing un-Googleable questions is hard.
But even when we can make that happen, teachers often run into another issue. Where to find useful evidence? What primary and secondary sources can I make available to students? Read more
I had a conversation several days ago with a teacher who was asking all the right questions. She wanted ideas of what works, what the research is saying is great for kids. In her first year, she was using primary sources and other kinds of evidence. She was having kids address deep questions. But she was still concerned about lecturing too much.
And I had to agree. She was probably lecturing too much. It’s an easy habit to fall back on – it makes it seem like you’re doing your job. It fills the time. It covers the content. And it’s often a “great” classroom management tool . . . in the sense that kids are busy “learning” so they’re not setting stuff on fire.
But for a lot of reasons – most of them accurate – lecture as an instructional tool is seen as a bad thing. And for the most part, I agree. Kids need to be solving problems. Working in groups. Messing with evidence. Creating products. Communicating solutions. It’s tough doing that when they’re sitting in rows listening to you.
But I will also suggest that short, interactive conversations between you and your students can be one way for kids to collect foundational knowledge that helps them do those other things. Short and interactive being the operative words here.
Another word that needs to be added to the mix?
Yeah, I know. Not the most engaging title. But it’s been a busy day so . . . just a little brain dead.
But not so dead that I can’t appreciate the coolness of the latest update from Google. Back in the day of the first iPad and even into the iPad 2, Google Docs wasn’t really an option. Stuff didn’t work well on the browser version and there wasn’t an usable app. But over time, you just knew Google would step it up.
And with the move from Google Docs to Google Drive and separate apps form Docs, Sheets, and Slides, Google is truly back in business on mobile devices. Yesterday, they added the Slides app to the iTunes App Store so that iPad and iPhone users now have access to all of the Google Drive Big Three. (You Android folks have had this for a few weeks.)
With the launch of the Slides app for iPhone & iPad and updates to the Docs and Sheets apps, they’re delivering on an earlier promise to make it possible for you to work with any file, on any device, any time.
Here’s the skinny from the Google folks on the latest update:
I’ll be honest. I heard from a teacher in Medicine Lodge a few weeks ago about a tool called Zaption, promised myself that I’d check it out later, and then completely forgot all about. Then this morning, I get a promo email from the company detailing the tool’s “high-quality, ready-made content, intuitive interface, and rich analytics” and urging me to go to their site to learn more.
Am feeling a bit unsettled. I get a lot of emails and offers of free stuff from people who are pushing their products and web sites. And I usually blow them off. Unless, of course, the price is right. I had planned to share Zaption with you anyway but doing it on the same day that I get the official sales pitch seems a bit like a sellout to the Man.
But I do really like the tool and believe there’s some nice potential for social studies teachers, especially those who are already flipping or are thinking about flipping their classrooms. I’m gonna let you decide for yourself if and when you might use Zaption. If you have an opinion one way or the other, let us know in the comments. I’d love to hear what others think of the tool.
At its most basic level, Zaption is Read more
I’m a huge believer in the power of visuals to encourage critical thinking and to support long-term retention. As social studies teachers we need to do a better job of finding ways to integrate visuals such as art and propaganda posters into our instructor.
Stuck for ideas and resources?
Try the Smithsonian.