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4 sites that support argumentative literacy, debates, and controversial topics

Next week, I’ll be spending time with a group of teachers as we discuss ways to support reading and writing in the social studies. Specifically, strategies for creating formative feedback opportunities that support argumentative and persuasive writing.

And what better way than by using contemporary issues tied to historical events?

A middle school teacher might use the exodus of unemployed from Detroit between 2008 and 2015 as a way to talk about why families moved to the American West during the mid to late 1800s. A high school teacher might use the Nuremberg Laws in 1930s Germany to highlight current immigration conversations. Perhaps a teacher might use laws such as the Kansas Act of 1940 and the House Concurrent Resolution 108 of 1953 to guide student thinking into 21st century discussions on race in the US and around the world.

But it’s always nice to have a little help. So plan to check out these four sites that provide resources and ideas that can help you as you delve into contemporary issues. Read more

Online resources for controversial topics

The Teaching History website always has great stuff. A recent article by Ben Bohmfalk, a high school teacher from Colorado, continues the tradition of excellence. Ben shares a few websites that can help you and your students gather un-biased information about current events, policy issues, and election topics.

He highlights three and I’ve added four of my own.

ProCon.org
An independent non-profit designed “to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias.”

National Discussion and Debate Series
Video, text, and links from debates at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. This program was created “to encourage a vigorous, well-informed discussion on the national stage about the major issues of our time.”

Debatepedia
“The Wikipedia of debates . . . an encyclopedia of pro and con arguments and quotes. A project of the International Debate Education Association

PolitiFact
Every day, PolitiFact and its partner news organization examine statements by anyone who speaks up in American politics. They research these statements and then rate the accuracy on the handy-dandy Truth-O-Meter.

Factcheck.org
A nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.

FactCheckEd.org
The aim is to help students learn to be smart consumers of information, not to accept it at face value; to dig for facts; and to weigh evidence logically. Lesson plans, resources, and frameworks for analyzing information.

Flackcheck.org
Uses parody and humor to debunk false political advertising, poke fun at extreme language, and hold the media accountable for their reporting on political campaigns.

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History at the movies: The 20 best films of the decade and how to use them

There’s nothing like watching a movie in a big screen theater – the kind that bans small children and has heated reclining seats –  holding a mega-tub of popcorn with a side of nacho cheese and a Diet Pepsi.

(You mean you don’t dip individual pieces of popcorn into nacho cheese while watching movies? While then . . . you’re welcome.)

And it’s even better when the movie is history related.

I’ve written about movies before. Because I like movies. I’m also convinced, when used appropriately, that they’re great teaching and learning tools. And a recent Smithsonian article highlighting their choices for best history movies of the last ten years got me thinking. So now I’m curious . . . what were the best movies of the last decade? Maybe more important, how can we use them as part of our instruction?

Read more