Several days ago, a group of us got together to do some Inquiry Design Model creation. And one of our conversations focused on the interactions between indigenous people and European colonists during the early years of the United States. That led to further discussions around Columbus Day vs. Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
As part of that conversation, I asked teachers to read a couple of different articles focusing on primary sources and thinking about the voices that may be missing from the stories those sources are telling. The first article, Teaching Hard History With Primary Sources, is from Teaching Tolerance and provides resources for including voices of enslaved persons in American history.
The second was published just a few weeks ago at Education Week. Titled How Do We Teach With Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing?, the article highlights the difficulty in telling a complete story when Native American voices can be hard to find. Bottom line? We need to train both ourselves and our students to look beyond what the easy to find sources are telling us. It’s what Sam Wineburg called “reading the silences.”
Finding these missing voices is important for a lot of reasons. But one particular quote in the EdWeek article stood out for me: Read more
We’ve chatted before about ways to introduce, talk about, and integrate controversial topics on our classrooms. Today I’m flashing back to a conversation I had with Charles Vaughan, a high school teacher from South Carolina. Ten months ago, he shared some of his experiences and thoughts on incorporating political topics into his instruction.
Some of what he referenced seems relevant this week as the congressional impeachment inquiry continues to ramp up. Quoting from an article in an Atlantic titled The Case for Contentious Classrooms, Charles highlighted the importance of what he calls a political classroom:
“Schools teach many things. For the most part, though, they have not not taught students how to engage in reasoned, informed debates across society’s myriad differences.”
He also shared some thoughts based on a book titled The Political Classroom by Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy. During an interview titled Politics in the Classroom. How Much is Too Much? on NPR, McAvoy asks: Read more
Back in the day, Madeline Hunter ruled.
I never actually met Madeline but for a time, it was like we were joined at the hip. College of Ed professors loved her. Principals loved her. Teacher observation and evaluation tools loved her even more. And so all of my early teaching years were focused on her theories and lesson plan designs.
For the non-Boomers in the room, a quick review of Madeline’s design:
- Anticipatory set
Do something that introduces the lesson, hooks kids into wanting to learn the lesson, and establish your objectives for the lesson.
- Direct instruction
Foundational knowledge – the facts, ideas, and skills – is delivered to the students. Usually some sort of lecture, video, or reading.
- Guided practice and application
The teacher helps students apply what they have just been taught.
- Independent practice and application
Students apply the learning on their own.
The teacher measures how well students have met the objectives.
It’s not like this is terrible instruction. Making it clear to kids what our expectations are is good. Finding ways for them to collect and organize foundation knowledge? Good. Independent application? Absolutely. Done right? Pretty darn good.
But like a lot of things, Madeline’s best intentions rarely made it into actual practice. Back in the day, I was usually okay with step one. I could hook kids into content. But after that? Not so much.
I ended up teaching like I had been taught. How the teachers down the hallway were teaching. Direct instruction to me meant lecture, the occasional video, and a lot of assigned readings. If there was any guided practice and independent practice, it usually involved lots of homework and worksheets.
I got better. I started doing more hands on projects and cooperative learning. But there was still a lot of direct instruction. And while the projects were engaging and kids enjoyed them, I didn’t work super hard at making them relevant or tying them to big ideas. So I had a fun class but I’m not really sure students walked any out any smarter than when they walked in.
As my own kids entered and left social studies classrooms throughout their 13 school years, it became clear that they were having similar experiences. There were some hands on projects and occasional awesomeness (thanks Mr. Robb.) But they still experienced a lot of direct instruction and “independent” practice in the form of study guides and worksheet packets.
Is it possible to take the best parts of Madeline’s model and adapt it to a world that needs our students to be engaged, informed, and knowledgable citizens? Read more
Six years ago, almost to the day, I uploaded a post titled New standards, the C3, dinosaurs, and Social Studiesball. The state of Kansas was in its very first year of implementing a new set of social studies standards – a set of standards that focused on creating a balance of content and historical thinking skills. A lot less memorizing and a whole lot more application and process.
It freaked some people out.
It freaked a lot of people out.
It was a different way of doing social studies. More student centered. More skills based. More problem solving. More use of evidence to support claims. Less focus on specific content and recall of basic facts. Heck . . . the state department of education basically said “within these rough scope and sequence parameters, teach whatever you want.” No check boxes of required test items. No multiple choice state assessment.
The 2013 post used the Michael Lewis book & Brad Pitt movie Moneyball as an example of how a shift in thinking can impact current practice.
And now, after six years, we’re revising the document and the state assessment with an even stronger focus on the inquiry model and historical thinking processes. It seems appropriate to revisit the 2013 post with a few updates.
A few years back, I picked up a book called Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. It focused on the Oakland Athletics major league baseball team and their general manager, Billy Beane. Burdened by a lack of funds, Beane was constantly struggling to win games against teams with way more money to pay their players than he did. But by 2002, during a season that saw his team set a century old record for consecutive wins, Beane had found a way to beat those teams.
Sabermetrics is the application of statistical analysis in order to evaluate and compare the performance of individual players. But not the traditional statistics. Beane and the A’s looked at a completely different set of statistics in ways that hadn’t been done before. This different way of thinking about baseball gave them a competitive advantage – they could now find solid players that had been ignored by everyone else. And because these players were being ignored by everyone else, the A’s could pay them less and win games while staying within their budget.
Win / win. A sweet team for less money.
The problem? Read more
Right after my two dream jobs of working at the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Museum of American History, I’m planning to pop over to National Geographic for a few years. We’ve been connected at the hip since I was in 5th grade and first discovered their amazing graphics and maps.
So I’m sure they’d love to hire me to help out a bit around the office.
Until then, I’ll just be happy playing with some of their very cool toys. This includes, of course, their powerful MapMaker Interactive digital tool.
But it also includes their MapMaker Kits: Read more