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History, Art, and Archives of the House of Representatives (and the Senate)

I’m a member of a semi-active Facebook group that was started several years ago following the final session of the Century of Progress TAH project. The group was an attempt by project participants to stay somewhat connected and supported after three years of working together.

We were able to develop a face-to-face PLC that meets four times a year and the Facebook group continues to act as a sort of digital conversation space. Most of us aren’t super active, simply lurking around and picking up the helpful tidbits posted by the few truly active members of the group.

One of those truly active members is Nathan McAlister, middle school teacher at Royal Valley MS. The 2010 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year, Nathan is one of those seriously gifted individuals, perfectly tuned to be a great middle school social studies teacher. And not only is he a great classroom teacher and GLI Master Teacher, he’s connected to both the state and national Councils for History Education and seems to know everybody in the social studies / history universe.

He’s one of the reasons I lurk on the Facebook. He’s got awesome teaching tips and resources to share. And last week, he did it again.

The History, Art, and Archives of the US House of Representatives.

Who knew? Read more

The best history books of 2016 and personal professional development

During the glory days of the Teaching American History projects, we handed out books like candy. We’d read. Argue. Reflect. Move on to the next. And I’m sure there were some who didn’t enjoy that process as much as I did. I understand that we all learn in different ways but it’s just hard for me to imagine life without books to read and talk about.

Plain and simple truth? You can never have enough books.

Keith Houston in his recent book titled, wait for it . . . The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time, advises readers to Read more

Tip of the Week: MLK 2017 Resources

Martin Luther King Day is next week and you’ve probably already finalized your lessons. Hopefully you’ve got multiple days built in to widen the discussion to US history, government, and current events. To help with your planning, take advantage of the different resources and ideas below. (Developed in part by the New York Times Learning Network.)

Start with a couple of Teaching Tolerance articles –  Do’s and Don’ts of MLK Day and Going the Extra Mile. Then head over to the LOC. Read more

Breaking the Chains: Augmented Reality Freedom Stories

I don’t think US K-12 kids  ever hear the full story of the Underground Railroad. We read about Harriet Tubman and other brave conductors. Students browse through stories of individuals and families who hid and protected runaway enslaved persons. And somewhere in there is usually a story or two about how enslaved persons were trying to reach Canada.

But we don’t hear about what happened once runaway enslaved persons reached Canada. What was life like there? Were there free men and women of color already living there?

Now we can find out. Read more

It’s not always what you see that bites you in the butt. All in with the Dorsal Fin

The reason why the movie Jaws is so incredibly spooky? Because for most of the film, we never really see the main character. Just the scary music and the occasional dorsal fin. We can’t see what’s under the water but we know something’s there.

Something big and hungry.

History is a little like that. It’s easy to see the surface stuff. People, places, dates. But it’s the stuff that our students don’t see that is usually the biggest and most important. Underlying causes. Past events. Hidden connections. All of these contribute to how things happened and continue to happen.

I recently ran across a handy graphic organizer idea that I think can help kids intentionally think about these hidden, under the surface pieces. The Facing History folks have titled this teaching strategy the Iceberg because it can help students organize and make sense of the different factors that lead to particular events. The strategy is also great for training kids to balance informative and literary texts, for building content knowledge, for generating text-based responses, and supporting the use of evidence.

It’s also great for organizing notes as student learn about a period in history, as a review, or as an assessment tool.

And yes. I get it. An Iceberg is only Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #1: 3D History: Exploring the World with Virtual Reality & Google Cardboard

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


 

There’s nothing quite like being part of several thousand social studies teachers – all hanging out together in Washington D.C at the #NCSS2016 conference. It doesn’t get much better than cardboard-womanspending four days chatting about history and best practice and tech integration and resources and geography and civics and econ while spending the evenings at the new Smithsonian African American museum, the Newseum, and the National Portrait Gallery.

And getting the chance to lead a couple of conference sessions – one of them with Kansas Council for the Social Studies president and superstar middle school teacher Kori Green? Icing on the cake.

Kori has been using the Google Expeditions app and Cardboard VR viewers with her kids this fall semester. Together we shared her experiences and a few other suggestions for classroom use. For those of you not able to make our session, I’ve posted some of the conversation and a few additional resources here for whoever might find them useful. Read more