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Throwback Thursday: History shouldn’t be boring. Or leave out stuff. Resources for your Indigenous Peoples’ Day

I’ve been on a serious Nathaniel Philbrick kick over the last few months and just finished Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War. It’s an incredibly interesting and detailed exploration of the interactions between the Indigenous nations of what we now call New England and English Pilgrims and Puritans during the 1600s.

Spoiler.

Schoolhouse Rock left out some stuff. Seriously. A lot of stuff.

One issue that Philbrick was very open about reminded me of a conversation I had with a group of upper elementary teachers several years ago. I had asked them to read an article titled How Do We Teach With Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing? Published by Education Week, the article highlights the difficulty in telling a complete story when Indigenous voices are hard to find, the same issue that Philbrick struggled with.

Bottom line? We need to train both ourselves and our students to look beyond what the easy to find sources are telling us. (I’m looking at you, Schoolhouse Rock. And our textbooks. And a lot of contemporary trade books.) It’s what Sam Wineburg once called “reading the silences.” We need to be more intentional about finding and using sources that fill in those silences, than let kids listen to the stories that are often untold and left out. 

Finding these missing voices is important for a lot of reasons. But one particular quote in the EdWeek article stood out for me:

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It’s no Hamilton. But maybe it’s . . . better?

I know.

That can’t be right, can it? A musical about the founding of America that’s better than that tired, old Hamilton thing? I mean, we’re talking about a musical that was Hamilton before there was a Hamilton. Before there was even a Lin-Manuel Miranda.

So I’m guessing it’s a musical that many of you haven’t heard about. I had the chance to see a performance of it back in the day – like, seriously back in the day – at the amazing Wichita Musical Theater. And, of course, then I had to go and find the movie based on the Broadway version.

Cause we know how powerful poetry and music and emotion and pop culture and all the things that make Hamilton so awesome can be to encourage student connections to historical content. So why not go back a bit to the original Founding Fathers musical that ruffled a few feathers of its own?

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Which one doesn’t belong? Non-examples saving the day

We get so many of our great ideas from other content areas.

The useful History Frame graphic organizer is really just an American Lit Story Frame in disguise. The engaging Discrepant Event Inquiry strategy has its roots in science and pre-med programs. Who doesn’t love a great set of Structure Strips? Elementary language arts.

And now we’ve got Which One Doesn’t Belong, an activity that has been bumping around math classrooms for centuries.

If you’ve ever played the awesome card game Set, then you’ve messed with the idea of Which One Doesn’t Belong. The rules of the game are simple: Collect as many sets of cards as possible. You create sets by combining three cards that are either All Alike or All Different in each of four different features. To be a set, each of the card’s features (color, shape, number, shading) must be all the same on each card or all different on each card. So this is an example of a Set:

And a non-example:

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It’s not just your tee shirt. It’s your favorite teaching strategy . . . uh, tee shirt.

We had a good run. Over eleven years.

And I’m trying to keep my chin up but . . . you know, it’s hard. Accepting the fact that we’ll never be together again can be rough.

You know what I’m talking about. The day you finally realize that awesome pair of jeans is just isn’t as awesome anymore. Maybe it’s that sweet hoodie you got at the merch table during a concert weekend back in college. Or maybe it’s your favorite, most comfortable tee shirt.

That’s me this morning. Back in the day, I got in the habit of grabbing a tee shirt from each of the campus visits my kids would make during their college searches. This particular shirt has been a favorite since I traveled with my first kid to Seattle 11 years ago. It fit perfectly. It was comfortable. Over the years, it slowly broke into perfection. It’s been the go-to shirt for years. But at this point, even I have to admit perhaps it’s just a little too broken in.

Eventually our favorite stuff wears out and we have to move on. It’s hard but we do it cause, well . . . cause the stuff just doesn’t work anymore.

And if you’ve gotten this for, you’ve got to be asking yourself.

Seattle Pacific tee shirt? Seriously?

Here’s the point.

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