Skip to content

It’s okay. Sam Wineburg says kids can hate your class.

Okay. I don’t want kids to hate social studies. Let’s be clear about that from the get go. But . . . I also think that we sometimes fall off the wagon on the other end by working way too hard trying to find activities that our kids will enjoy or projects that are “engaging.”

It’s been more than just a few years since I first heard Sam Wineburg speak. I had read his book Thinking Historically and Other Unnatural Acts. Read some of his early articles on historical thinking skills and loved his ideas about how we needed to re-think our approach to teaching history. But it wasn’t until a combined Kansas / Missouri Council for History Education conference way back in 2008 that I first heard him speak. He opened the conference with a keynote highlighting the main ideas in his book.

And now, of course, he’s a future social studies Hall of Famer having helped to swing the pendulum of social studies instruction over to something more focused on a balance of both content and process.

But something he said way back in 2008 has stuck with me:

Read more

Wayback Wednesday: RealClearHistory – Right there in plain sight. (With maps. Lots of maps.)

I’ve been messing with maps this week. And why not? Maps are awesome. As part of my messing around, I ran across this older post about a great site that I had sort of forgotten. So . . . welcome back to Wayback Wednesday and RealClearHistory.

————————–

For a while now, I’ve hung around over at RealClearPolitics. For a poly sci junkie, it’s a great place to spend a few minutes or a hundred, digging into polls, commentary, and election gossip. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that realized that the RealClear network of sites also has a History version.

Duh.

At RealClearHistory, you get the same sort of article aggregation from a variety of places in a variety of topics. We can all use a little more content knowledge and RealClearHistory is pretty decent place to find interesting resources and insight. And what better time than summer? To take full advantage, be sure to use the search feature in the top right to find articles, resources, and maps.

Yup. Maps. We all love a great map. Robert Louis Stevenson once observed:

Read more

The Fab Five of Primary Source Archives

All is not yet right with the world. But the NCAA basketball tournament is doing a lot, at least in my little corner piece, to help make things just a little bit better.

I love the upsets. The underdogs. The last second shots. It’s a great way to spend a couple of weekends.

So when I was messing around with a long list of primary source archives this morning and needed a way to organize them, I figured, why not just sort them by five starters and bench players? My starting five are my favorite archives- the ones I know I can always count on, that have easy search features, that let me save and tag stuff, and that are designed for teachers to use.

And there are others, that while super important to the success of the team, come off the bench just when I need them. Maybe their interface is a bit wonky or it can be difficult to find things at times. Maybe their database is a bit small. Or I can’t save what primary sources I find. Still good. Just not part of the starting five.

So if you’re looking for some great primary source archives – look no further. This is the list that takes the championship.

And if you’re looking for a few great ideas for using primary sources in the classroom, try some of these.

History Tech Live Stream – Top 10 Tech List and Hexagonal Thinking

Dan Krutka and I got to know each other several years ago when he was teaching and working at Wichita State.  Dan was one of the original #sschat folks and did a ton for social studies ed here in Kansas. He’s since moved to Texas but continues to be a force in the social studies education and edtech world.

A couple of months ago, we started thinking about doing a series of livestreams. And we figured, why not? We’d get smarter together, maybe a few other people might get smarter, and it gave us both an excuse to spend some time talking about social studies. Cause who doesn’t love talking about social studies? So we sketched out a quick plan that let us hang out once a month, talking about, well . . . social studies tech related stuff.

Dan set up some quick StreamYard / YouTube connections and we streamed a couple of test runs. And last week, we rolled out an actual episode on what we hope will be a regular schedule – the first Monday of the month.

The March episode started with what turned out to be an extended conversation around a Top Ten tech list that Dan had created back in 2017. Dan was curious if any tools that made his list were still usable. We decided yes and no.

The highlights?

  • We’re upset about Google Expeditions
  • We love Smithsonian Learning Lab
  • Docsteach is still awesome
  • Chronicling America has been updated

We eventually got to a discussion about the power of Hexagonal Thinking and a few tech tools that can help you pull it off.

Catch the latest episode below and save the date to stop by April 5 on Dan’s channel: Read more

Eating your own social studies dog food

In a 2013 article in Wired magazine, written following one of the government shutdowns of the time, author Clive Thompson suggested that members of Congress should eat their own dog food. Thompson describes the “hardships” Congressmen had to endure as they waited in long airport security lines, rushing out of town on their way to hit up potential donors. Long lines they created by failing to solve federal budget issues, a failure that kicked in the ridiculous sequester idea.

“Critics warned that the sequester would cause hardship throughout the country, but congress-folk didn’t care — until they had to share in the pain. When they discovered that the sequester was eating into their vacation time, they rushed back to the Capitol and passed a law restoring funding to airports, working so fast that part of the bill was handwritten. Congress, it turns out, isn’t paralyzed. It’s just not motivated. In this spirit, there’s one simple way to get our do-nothing legislators off the dime: Have them eat their own dog food.”

Thompson goes on to describe a term I had never heard of before. In the world of software coding, “dogfooding” describes the habit of programmers actually using their own products, “day in and day out.” Invented in the early 1980s, the term – and the practice – continues because it works. Forced to live with their own code, programmers can quickly see what works and what doesn’t work. And just as quickly fix it.

Thompson suggests that Washington would be a bit more successful if Congress actually experienced life as they code it. They don’t live like . . . well, like you and me. Incredibly cheap and well run health insurance. Private schools for their kids. Great pensions. People throwing money at them left and right.

Read more

3 ways (and a couple of bonus tips) for using Loom to create powerful learning activities

It’s cold. Seriously cold. So even if your building wasn’t already doing the COVID remote dance, the cold and snow probably chased your kids out of the building for at least a few days.

And connecting with your students is always difficult, current conditions are making it even harder.

Loom, a free, ready to use screencast recording tool, can help.

Simple to use. Simple to share. There’s a free version for teachers and kids. And it works great for both face to face classrooms and remote learning environments.

If you’re already using Loom, you may be in the wrong place. This post is for Loom newbies and how we can use the tool as part of effective social studies instruction. So maybe take a few minutes to browse through a list of History Tech posts highlighting historical thinking resources and strategies. (But you’re not gonna hurt my feelings if you skip past the quick Loom introduction and scroll down for the social studies examples.)

So what’s a screencast recording tool? Basically it’s a button you push that records your screen while at the same time recording your face and voice, saving them all together in a downloadable and shareable video format. And it does all of that in a matter of seconds.

Need a quick example? Read more