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Tip of the Week: Ten Best Social Studies Stuffs of 2012

Yeah. I know. Stuffs. Probably not an actual word. But I use the word stuff a lot and it seemed to fit. I started thinking that I would write about my 10 favorite books of 2012. But wait. What about the great movies? And apps? And websites?

So . . . Stuffs. Plural of Stuff. Because 10 Best Stuff of 2012 didn’t sound right.

Call them whatever you want, here are the top ten things that I found useful, interesting, or just fun this past year. In no particular order.

1. The movie Lincoln. Two things I really liked. The movie put a human face on Lincoln as well as those around him. And it provided a a real sense of the tension that surrounded the question behind the 13th Amendment – who gets to be an American? Extra bonus? No vampires.

2. AirServer. This handy piece of software lets me wirelessly mirror my iPad to my laptop allowing it to be projected. Very handy. Works with both Apple and Windows. Inexpensive and easy to use.

3.Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School History Classrooms. Sam Wineburg’s latest book. Practical ideas and resources. Now aligned to Common Core literacy standards.

4. The Republic of Nature. Great book on the environment’s impact on American history. By Mark Fiege.

5. Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History. I’ve always liked James Loewen’s stuff. This is his most recent and most practical book.

6. Teaching History. This website is non-negotiable. Every social studies / history teacher needs this for personal professional learning.

7. Stanford History Education Group websites. Their Beyond the Bubble tool & curriculum based on Sam Wineburg’s ideas of historical thinking have had a huge influence on my view of what great instruction looks like.

8. PBS Dust Bowl. The stuff Ken Burns puts out is always quality. And Dust Bowl is no exception. Great story. Great resources. How social studies content should look like and read.

9. TedEd. I love TedEd. A super way to connect with kids in and out of the classroom. Also a great creation tool for students.

10. Socrative. An amazing free app that provides an easy and effective way of assessing student knowledge. I love the multiple, cross-platform ways of accessing the tool.

You knew I couldn’t stop at 10, didn’t you? So five honorable mentions.

1. Thinkfinity. A super efficient website for finding high quality teaching materials aligned to state and Common Core standards. Forget Google. Start here.

2. Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer?: Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12. Bruce Lesh’s awesome book highlighting his ideas of how to get kids to think historically in effective ways. He spent four days with our TAH cohort this summer. Phenomenal.

3. Notability. This app is the 21st century version of a Big Chief tablet and over-sized pencil. A no-brainer in the digital world of 1-to-1, Notability supports data collection, collaboration, creation, and communication.

4. Argo. A great movie detailing behind the scenes story of the Iranian hostage crisis. Ben Affleck. Who knew? It encouraged me to go back and review that period. And read the book.

That’s my stuff. What about you? What stuff have you been watching? Reading? Using?

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Agree with everything I am familiar with on your list.
    I would like to add some more world history stuffers:
    Heidi Roupp, World History in the 21st Century
    World History Connected:
    College Board sites, particularly fond of the AP ART resources page right now: (requires registration).
    The Resources for History Teachers wiki: My AP World students are editing the AP World pages this year.
    Craig Perrier’s blog:
    Still recommending Eduardo Galleano’s Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone ( : “Galeano’s book is pure delight – a cornucopia of wonderful stories. It should be by everyone’s bedside – and in every Christmas stocking.”) – one of the most precisely worded books I’ve ever read; and that is in translation.
    Also please join the New England History Teacher’s Association Linkedin and Facebook sites if you are so inclined. I am webmaster of those.

    December 8, 2012
  2. Great recommendations. I concur on most of them, not having used airs ever I don’t feel qualified to recommend. I would add Destiny of the Republic, great read about the assassination of James A. Garfield.

    December 8, 2012
    • glennw #

      Destiny of the Republic looks interesting. Thanks for the recommendation, a great excuse to head to the bookstore!


      December 8, 2012
  3. Since you are American History biased, you might be interested in taking a look at a site that specializes in middle school social studies differentiated instruction focusing on American History. It’s called

    February 4, 2013

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