Skip to content

“Somebody Wanted But So” makes your kids smarter

I’ve been spending a ton of time this summer working with groups around the country, helping facilitate conversations around reading and writing in the social studies.

It’s always a good day when I get the chance to sit with social studies teachers, sharing ideas and best practice, talking about works and what doesn’t. And the cool thing is that I always walk away smarter because teachers are super cool about sharing their favorite web site or tool or handy strategy.

This week was no different. I learned about a simple but powerful summarizing strategy called Somebody Wanted But So.

Summarizing is a skill that I think we sometimes take for granted. We ask our kids to read or watch something and expect them to just be able to remember the content and apply it later during other learning activities. We can easily get caught up in the Curse of Knowledge, assuming that because we know how to summarize and organize information, everyone does too.

But our students often need Read more

It puts kids to sleep. And just so ya know . . . that’s a bad thing. (Plus 18 ways to make it better)

Shocker. Lecturing to students puts them to sleep.

Who could have guessed?

Well . . . I should have. But I didn’t. During my first few years as a middle school teacher and later, during some time I spent teaching in a college social science department, I lectured.

A lot.

Early on, I didn’t know better. I was taught that way in both K-12 and in my college content courses. There were no real alternatives provided in my ed classes. And I started teaching long before established mentor programs. It was just the way things were done.

By the time I had moved on to higher ed, I had figured out – with some occasional PD and lots of help from some great educators – that there are other alternatives to constant direct instruction. But I was subtly and then very overtly encouraged to lecture rather than use some of the methods that I knew worked because “you’re not teaching middle school anymore.”

Those memories came flooding back recently while I was reading an older article focused on higher ed teaching titled 20 Terrible Reasons for Lecturing. Several of the reasons listed are almost word for word to what I heard: Read more

O Say Can You See? Smithsonian’s blog. (And other stuff. Lots and lots of other stuff)

Have you ever had one of those days / weeks / months? I feel ya.

Back in the day, summer was one of the slower times of the year at ESSDACK mission control. But over the last few years, for a variety of reasons, June through the end of August has become a very exciting time. Lots of extended learning opportunities that we facilitate, travel to places outside member school districts, and our own very cool Podstock tech conference.

But I’ve been missing History Tech. It’s nice to be back. And what better way to get back home than to talk up one of my favorite online places. Read more

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters book is disrupting my summer reading plans

I love my summer reading list.

You know the one. I put together a list of stuff I want to read over June, July, and August. Of course, not once have I ever been able to actually finish the list. I always get sidetracked by something. One summer, I got distracted and went on a whole Civil War tangent. Last year, it was old presidential election books like The Making of the President 1960.

This year’s distraction?

I just ran across the latest by literacy gurus Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. And I have to be honest, not that familiar with their work. I was part of conversation several years ago that focused on their Notice and Note book. But I was hooked by their current title: Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters.

Beers and Probst begin Disrupting Thinking with a quick story about a company called Read more

Commemorating the Great War with National Archives iPad app, resources, lesson plans

During the few hours that she has available between reading the Court of Thorns and Roses Series and finishing the Wii Zelda video game, my daughter spends a couple days a week as a volunteer intern at the National Archives Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene. She’s had the chance to organize a ton of donated primary sources, catalog teacher materials, and watched a general from Fort Riley’s 1st Infantry Division cut a cake in half with a sword.

So . . . she’s already having a better summer that most of us can hope for.

Today I got an email from her sharing a sweet new online tool that highlights some of NARA’s resources surrounding America’s entry into World War One. (NARA has so many different teacher tools available that it can be difficult keeping up with all of it. It’s nice having a member of the crack Eisenhower staff working on the inside to keep me up to date.) So I figured I’d pass on the NARA goodness.

The United States entered World War One on April 6, 1917. To honor the 100th anniversary, the National Archives created Read more

Tip of the Week: 6 strategies your students can use to combat fake news

For years, experienced social studies teachers have been asking kids to solve problems using evidence. Teaching them to practice historical thinking skills to analyze primary and secondary sources. Training them to evaluate evidence. To create arguments using that evidence.

This sort of instruction and learning wasn’t always officially encouraged. Great teachers did it because they knew it was good for kids. But our recently created state standards, the Common Core Literacy standards, and the NCSS Framework all now support this kind of quality teaching. Historical thinking skills are cool again.

And that’s a good thing. But . . . Read more