For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.
And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.
Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more
Way back in August of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Park Service Organic Act, establishing the creation of the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife” found inside the United States and make them available for public enjoyment.
According to National Geographic and the NPS, there are more than 84 million acres across the U.S., at sites as diverse as national monuments, Civil War battlefields, and historic sites. There’s a big range in size among NPS sites, too: The biggest is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, at 13.2 million acres, while the smallest is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre. These sites attract more than 300 million visitors every year.
Shelton Johnson, a park ranger at Yosemite National Park and published author, shared his thoughts on this important milestone.
“No longer were rivers a force to be dammed, virgin forests a source for board-feet, or mountainsides blasted for gemstones or coal. The idea of parks has the power to transcend culture, a currency whose value speaks of something profoundly human.”
To celebrate, Read more
Last week, I had the chance to lead a quick conversation centered on this simple question:
“Is it ever okay to tamper with history?”
As in . . . is it okay to modify and edit the primary and secondary sources that our students use as part of the historical thinking process?
It’s always an interesting conversation. Because without fail, you get both ends of the continuum. On one end, you’ll have teachers who will argue for “absolutely not. You never mess with the raw data of history.” Or the other side that sees no problem with massive changes in vocabulary, wording, and voice.
I’m gonna fall somewhere in the middle. There are steps that you need to follow but without some editing and modification, most primary sources are not accessible to most of your students. Providing evidence that is usable to your kids is one of the first steps in creating historically literate students and modifying difficult to understand evidence is often necessary.
An article written in 2009 by historical thinking gurus Sam Wineburg and Daisy Martin for the National Council for the Social Studies journal, Social Education, provides some helpful tips for what this can look like.
In Tampering with History: Adapting Primary Sources for Struggling Readers, the two write:
We are unabashedly urging history teachers to tamper with history.
And in addition to offering a variety of arguments supporting that statement, the two also provide a three step process for how you can do the tampering. It’s an article you need to spend time walking through – perfect for the year’s first department meeting.
But once convinced, most of us run into the next set of problems. Finding the time to doing the tampering or finding already pre-tampered documents. The curriculum at the Stanford History Education Group Reading Like a Historian is a great place to start but other modified documents are practically non-existent.
Until now. Read more
We’ve been a part of it. We’ve all used it. And we’ve probably all noticed that it really doesn’t work very well.
Brainstorming sounds like a good strategy. Generate new ideas. Encourage creativity. Engage lots of people all at once. In theory, it makes all sorts of sense.
But in practice, it usually falls flat.
Brainstorming was first introduced by Alex Osborn, an ad man in the 1950s. And it’s been used by millions of people, including educators. The problem?
There’s a ton of evidence that suggests that brainstorming actually harms creativity. A recent article by Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker highlights study after study that found individuals generate more ideas on their own than in groups.
A meta-analytic review says that we’re more likely to develop better ideas when we don’t interact with others. Brainstorming is particularly more likely to limit creativity in larger groups, when teams are too closely supervised, and when performance is oral rather than written.
Why? Read more