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Professional learning doesn’t have to be face to face: These tools can help


One of the most enjoyable things I get to do is finding things that make life better and easier for teachers and students. Sometimes those things are online sites and tools. Sometimes those things are ideas that teachers share. And sometimes those things are products that are created here at ESSDACK.

Today I want to share three products that we’ve designed specifically to support social studies teachers in their own professional learning and as they teach historical thinking skills. Our goal is simple – find ways to help teachers learn in non-traditional ways. For years at ESSDACK, we’ve worked to create quality face-to-face professional learning opportunities.

But we also want to offer tools and products that encourage you to learn and work where and when is best for you. So I’ve created a few products that you can use as both instructional tools and professional learning opportunities without having to travel here to ESSDACK. I would love for you to give them a try and let me know what you think!


Evidence Analysis Window Frame

We often ask students to analyze evidence and to think historically. But these are skills that often need scaffolding. So we’ve printed historical thinking questions along the edges of heavy duty plastic sheets that your students place on top of photos, documents, maps, political cartoons, and other pieces of evidence. Kids then use dry erase or overhead pens to connect historical thinking questions with evidence found in the document.

This Evidence Analysis Window Frame combines critical thinking with a visual, tactile activity that is great for encouraging historical thinking, developing analysis abilities, and supporting literacy skills. Use the Window Frame questions to create writing prompts and extend learning beyond the document analysis activity. You can use the Window Frame individually, in small groups, or whole group to model historical thinking skills.

This is the one sided version of the Window Frame – printed on 10 mil erasable plastic. We’ve leveled the historical thinking questions, so you can get the Frame in either Elementary or Secondary versions. Purchase just one Window Frame, in sets of five, or in a classroom set of 25.

(We’re coming out with a two sided version that’s printed on heavy cardstock and covered in long lasting laminate that actually erases better than the heavy duty plastic on the one sided version. The additional questions on Side B focus on higher order thinking and making sense of visual evidence.)


25 Days of History Tech Tools

25 Days is a daily email message that is personalized to your schedule. During the week for five weeks, you’ll get daily messages that automatically show up in your inbox. Each day focuses on a different discipline, giving you the opportunity to integrate and adapt different content into whatever you and your students are working to understand. Monday focuses on US or world history, Tuesday addresses economics, Wednesday deals with geography, Thursday is government, and Friday highlights a variety of technology tools that can be applied across the disciplines.

The cool thing is that you get to decide when in your busy schedule to read and apply each message. Pick and choose the tools and ideas that work best and file the rest away for future reference.

The added bonus? After 25 days of Social Studies awesome, you can also apply for graduate college credit!


C4 Cards

My C4 Framework with its four elements –screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-10-25-42-am Collect, Collaborate, Create, and Communicate – provides a structure for planning and implementing a cohesive instructional arc that supports this balance. We’ve created 8.5 x 11 cards for each of the four elements that provide practical and research-based strategies that you can use immediately as part of your instruction. The front of each card has instructional suggestions, resources, and examples. The back has standards alignments for both the National Council for the Social Studies and the Common Core Literacy Standards for History / Social Studies.

The cards are printed on heavy card stock perfect for laminating, inserting into 3-ring binders, or having handy right at your desk. Purchase a set of four cards from each of the four elements or purchase complete sets of 16 cards  i.e. four Collect cards, four Collaborate cards, four Create cards, and four Communicate cards.

Want to browse through a sample card?


You can also go the Products page here at History Tech or over at Social Studies Central to find more info and links to the ESSDACK store.

 Let me know if you have questions or suggestions on making these tools more useful!

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