It’s a Wiebe tradition.
The annual summer reading list.
For as long as I’ve been in education, I’ve had a summer reading list. Several of my early mentors suggested that the summer is a perfect time for personal professional learning. Develop a list of professional and fun books. Commit to reading them. Talk about the content with others. I eventually came around to the idea and learned to love it.
My wife, also an educator, started doing it. Later, we passed on the idea to our kids. The cool thing is that we’re all still committed to it. The best summer was the year my wife and I took a tech naked trip to the beach. Without the internet, there’s was nothing to do but sit in the sand and read. Awesome.
Of course, in all of the years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve never actually finished the original list. Schedules change. Books aren’t as good as I had hoped. It’s easy to get sidetracked. Work. Travel. Family stuff. But the idea is still a good one. It makes us better educators. And isn’t that part of the job?
So even though I’m pretty sure I won’t finish it, I still make the list. Cause one of these years, it’s gonna happen. All the books, all the way through. Really. I’m serious. This year for sure.
The 2015 Summer Reading List
Many of you are already aware of the Stanford History Education Group’s fantastic resources called Reading Like a Historian and Beyond the Bubble. If you’re not, you need to be.
Using his own ideas and research on what historical thinking looks like, Sam Wineburg and his staff created some incredibly useful lessons and assessments and started giving them away for free. Good stuff.
Each lesson starts with a compelling question, provides primary evidence, and asks students to use historical thinking skills to solve the problem. This sort of work is exactly what our state standards and what the National Council for the Social Studies encourages.
As more teachers are using the tools, one thing they’re asking is how the SHEG lessons and assessments fit into specific grade levels and Common Core literacy levels.
And now thanks to the Los Angeles school district, your wish has come true. Read more
Several years ago, I posted a quick story about Charles Francis Adams. With many of you trying to keep your heads above water, finishing state assessments, planning end of the year activities, perhaps now is a good time for a gentle reminder of sorts.
It’s a story many of you already know. I was reminded of the story while browsing through an old teaching strategy article from the Organization of American Historians.
Charles Francis Adams, grandson of John Adams and son of John Quincy Adams, served as a Massachusetts state senator, a US Congressman and ambassador to Great Britain under Abraham Lincoln. He was also very conscientious about keeping a daily journal and encouraged his own children to do the same.
Henry Brooks, fourth of seven Adams children, followed his advice and began journaling at a young age. A particular entry written when Brooks was eight has continued to catch our attention. Following a day spent with his father, he wrote
Went fishing with my father today, the most glorious day of my life.
The day was so glorious, in fact, that Brooks continued to talk and write about that particular day for the next thirty years. It was then that Brooks thought to compare journal entries with his father.
For that day’s entry, Charles had written: Read more
For the last month or so, there has been a serious spring cleaning operation going on in my house. Serious. I’ve dug through boxes of stuff that I packed away almost 20 years ago and haven’t looked at since. Middle school lessons plans. Old laminated classroom posters. Folders of tests and handouts. Front pages from the Wichita newspaper documenting the first Gulf War.
And maps. Lots and lots of maps. Most of all the stuff I went through got recycled. Some of the books and resources will be given away as door prizes during future trainings. The maps? Nope. Kept most of the those. Cause you can never have too many maps. There’s just something about a good paper map.
But I also understand the power of digital. As much as I enjoy spreading out a 1939 world atlas, the ability of an online or tech-based map to blend and display huge amounts of data can’t be beat. Google Maps. Google Earth. ERSI. Rumsey Georeferencer. StoryMaps.
And now you’ve got the United States Geological Survey folks with even more goodies. The USGS has always been great about creating and sharing educational resources. But now they’ve created a new handy tool for finding and using historical topographic maps. Read more
As you count down the final days and hours, many of you are having students create final products and assessments. We often ask kids to create these end of year projects in textual form. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Writing is proof of thinking. But there are are other types of assessments that can also measure levels of thinking that we sometimes forget about, ignore, or just don’t know about.
The Instructional Arc of the National Council for the Social Studies and my own C4 Framework ask kids to solve problems and communicate solutions. Both are based on the national and state literacy standards that ask students share research and solutions in a variety of ways:
- Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
- Present adaptations of arguments and explanations on topics of interest to others to reach audiences and venues outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, reports, and maps) and digital technologies (e.g., Internet, social media, and digital documentary).
The problem seems to almost always revolve around finding and using a tool that free, easy to use, and that supports the Instructional Arc and literacy standards. One possible answer? Read more
The shift is on. We’re moving beyond simple rote memorization and direct instruction to a more hands on, interactive and evidence-based learning method. We want kids to solve problems and communicate solutions.
That’s a good thing.
But as we all get better at giving kids problems to solve and asking them to use evidence to solve those problems, it’s easy to focus on certain types of evidence. Diaries. Journals. Speeches. Photos. Maps. You know . . . the basic types of primary source documents many of you having been using forever. Absolutely nothing wrong with those types of evidence. Heck, secondary sources work too.
What can start to happen, though, is that we rely too much on the old reliables and never ask kids to use more complicated kinds of things. And one type of evidence that we need to start using more is the huge amount of public data that is available. Statistics. Population numbers. Demographical data. Movement of people and materials. This kind of stuff is perfect for creating authentic problems and encouraging creative solutions by your students.
The problem, of course, is that the data has been hard to access and even harder to make sense of. But there is a solution. Right there in plain sight. Most of us just missed it. Read more