I was busy online with a small group of elementary social studies teachers yesterday afternoon when my phone started buzzing. I ignored it for a bit but after a teacher in the group sent me a private message in my Zoom window, my attention shifted. And then, of course, was distracted until late last night and into this morning.
Your role as a social studies teachers has never been more important. Or more difficult.
I was able to take part in a special #sschat session last night and walked away amazed at the power of a social studies PLN. The topic?
“How do I teach tomorrow?”
So many incredible teachers and so many amazing conversations. Blew. Me. Away. There was so much conversation going on, I’m heading back to the chat archive this evening to catch up on all I missed.
(And if you haven’t been part of an #sschat or don’t follow the hashtag, head over to their chat archives and starting getting smarter. Not sure how to do that? Start here.)
One of the amazing things that developed during last night’s chat was the crowdsourced creation of a Google spreadsheet with tons of resources. If you’re looking for ways to talk with with your kids about the events of yesterday and the events that will be taking place over the next few weeks, you need to head over and check out the combined work of hundreds of teachers: Read more
We all know that I spent a significant amount of my formative years digging through old National Geographic maps. You know the ones I’m talking about. They got slipped into the middle of the magazine and unfolded into poster size after you discovered them. I still have an old shoebox full of them. Cause they’re just so cool.
So it shouldn’t surprise any of you that an online article about maps, especially one from National Geographic, is going to catch my attention. But before we head over to take a look, a quick geography mental map quiz.
First step, create a mental map of the world. (If you’ve got a few extra minutes and some paper and pencil, feel free to draw it out.)
Mental map ready?
Okay . . . based on your mental (or actual) map of the world, answer a few simple questions:
- How much of South America is east of Miami, Florida?
- How much of Africa is north of the equator?
- Which city is located further north – Paris, France or Montreal, Canada?
- Venice, Italy is located at the same latitude of what major American city?
- Which is bigger? The lower 48 United States or Brazil?
I’ve never been a New Year’s resolution kind of guy. New Year’s Day has always been too full of football, Chex Mix, drink, more football, family, friends, traditional Menno New Year’s cookies with blueberries instead of raisins, and then maybe a couple more games of college football. I’ve got no time for resolutions.
But anti-resolutions? Statements designed to be broken immediately? Heck, yeah. I’ve got time for those. Anti-resolutions are perfect for kicking off 2021.
Here’s the deal. I don’t think we sit down often enough and reflect on our practice. And I know January 2021 might not seem like a good time for that. Nine months of pandemic impacted schedules has put all of us in a bit of a cranky mood. I get that.
But in a lot of ways, this is the perfect time to think about the hidden culture and unwritten rules that are part of our classrooms. What’s working? What’s not? When it all gets back to “normal,” what sorts of things really aren’t that important any more (and might even be detrimental?)
I’m convinced that no teacher wants to be ineffective. But I’m also convinced that we sometimes allow things to just happen in the middle of the year because we’ve got so much going on . . . especially this school year. The silver lining of all the Covid scheduling, multiple lesson planning, student attendance issues, missing resources, and clunky tech has been that we have literally been given permission to do things differently. To try stuff we haven’t tried before. Assess learning in alternative ways. Use a variety of resources and materials. To redesign how we do school.
And I know it’s hard to see right now. But your classroom will and should look different a year from now.
So make a few anti-resolutions yourself. Then make plans for breaking them. Need some ideas? Browse five of my anti-resolutions: Read more
The Constitution and its amendments seem pretty straight forward. The old girl is over 200 years old and has, for the most part, held up well. But helping kids understand the fragile nature of the ideas and practices embedded in the document can be difficult . . . especially when they see, hear, and read about attempts to ignore or circumvent those ideas and practices.
It’s been a long year. Especially if you’re a social studies teachers. (Government teachers, how ya doing?)
So perhaps it’s appropriate that we celebrate Bill of Rights Day every year on December 15. We get the cake and candles out. Shoot off some fireworks. Sing some old union organizing songs. Replay scenes from the Hamilton musical. Do it up right.
Wait . . . what? How many of you didn’t know that today is Bill of Rights Day? Read more
Sure. We’ve all been to the Library of Congress digital archives. We all use the super handy National Archives’ Teaching With Documents section that shares lesson plans explaining historical events through primary documents.
And who doesn’t already spend hours at the Smithsonian Learning Lab and their History Explorer? Google’s Art and Culture is another rabbit hole waiting to happen. Of course, we all love DocsTeach.
But there are so many other places to find online primary sources. So. So. Many.
So many that it’s sometimes easier to just stick to the old reliables. So today you get 24 digital primary sources archives that tell the stories of people and groups that we sometimes miss when we stick to the old reliables.
Because the stories our kids need to hear should include more than just the dead white guys we grew up with. Nothing wrong with old white guys (you’ll find some below and I happen to know a couple of really nice old white guys) but don’t be afraid to grow your list to include the experiences of all sorts of people who make up the American narrative. Read more