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Low on devices? Want a formative assessment tool?

Cassie teaches 7th grade geography teacher at Seaman Middle School. And she’s awesome at what she does.

She recently shared a blog post at the KCSS Doing Social Studies site that I love. I’m cross-posting it cause, well . . . it’s also awesome. Read more

How to use primary sources? Check out LOC’s self-paced teacher PD

Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.

Examining primary sources gives students a powerful sense of history and the complexity of the past. Helping students analyze primary sources can also guide them toward higher-order thinking and better critical thinking and analysis skills.

But maybe you’re not sure what to do with them or how to use them in your classroom.

The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program provides primary source-based, independent study professional learning. Earn a certificate of completion by taking the Library’s self-paced interactive modules. Each multimedia-rich program delivers approximately one hour of staff development.

Head over to get the full details or click a link below to jump in with both feet: Read more

Tip of the Week: 5 graphic organizers you’re probably not using but should be

Most of you are already familiar with the idea of document analysis worksheets. These sorts of tools are perfect for scaffolding historical thinking skills for your kids. Some of the best, created by the Library of Congress and the National Archives, have been around for years. I also really like the stuff created by the Stanford History Education group, especially their Historical Thinking Chart.

We should be using all of those evidence analysis tools with our kids. They can be especially helpful for training elementary and middle school students to gather and organize evidence while solving authentic problems. And for high school kids without a strong background in historical thinking skills, the tools provided by the LOC, NARA, and SHEG are incredibly useful to guide thinking.

But what about other types of graphic organizers? Are there some organizers you should be using but aren’t? Spoiler alert. Yes.
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The True Size of . . .

One of my favorite map books is called How to Lie With Maps by Mark Monmonier. How to Lie highlights the use and abuse of maps and teaches us how to critically evaluate these “easy-to-manipulate models of reality.” Monmonier claims that, despite their immense value, maps must lie.

Back of the book jacket , Monmonier introduces basic principles of mapmaking, gives entertaining examples of the misuse of maps in situations from zoning disputes to census reports, and covers all  sorts of distortions from deliberate oversimplifications to the misleading use of color.

How can maps “lie?” Read more

Google Classroom just got more Google awesome

If you’re a teacher in a Google Apps for Education school and you’re not using Google Classroom, just a quick suggestion.

You need to be.

Especially if your students have a lot of online access with carts or in a 1-to-1 setting. I know that there are similar tools out there already but because Classroom integrates all of the Google tools so easily it’s a no-brainer for just about any face to face, flipped, or blended class.

(Need a little support getting started? Head over to Social Studies Central and browse through some suggestions and support articles.)

And this week, Google Classroom just got more awesomer. So there’s not a lot of reasons left for not using it.

Google gave Classroom a quick visual makeover with a new simplified design for creating and posting assignments, announcements, and questions and for viewing assignment details. The design encourages quick and easy access for teachers and students.

And it’s more than a simple visual change. Based on teacher requests, Google has made some pretty sweet updates.
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Then and now Google Images, writing prompts, HistoryPin, and other cool stuff

Several months ago, I was in beautiful Fremont, Washington, a community north of downtown Seattle. My son had just graduated from Seattle Pacific and we had the opportunity to spend a few days exploring the metro area. We had already done all of the typical Seattle touristy things – Pike’s Market, Space Needle, the icky wall of chewing gum.

While looking for lesser known attractions, Jake suggested Fremont. Every Sunday, Fremont hosts a huge flea market / delicious food truck / arts and crafts extravaganza that attracts thousands. I went for the food and stayed for the old books and super cool old maps.

While browsing through one particular booth looking for artistic inspiration, my daughter ran across a box full of old photographs. No names. No dates. So we practiced our primary document sourcing skills, deducing that they must have been taken in the late 1940s / early 1950s by American soldiers and their families. Scenes of the Eiffel Tower, festivals complete with lederhosen, and celebrations with uniformed Americans were prominent.

Erin selected a pile of the most interesting images – picking quite a few that seemed to be from the same camera roll and photographer.

Okay. Your daughter found some old photos. And . . . so what?

It took me a while to figure out the so what. The so what started to develop when she became intrigued with several of the images, particularly with one that showed what seemed to be a Gothic cathedral. Read more

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