I love the National Council for the Social Studies national conference. Who doesn’t? Seriously. Thousands of social studies nerds all in one place? Talking about best practice, resources, tech tools, sharing ideas, getting smarter?
What’s not to like?
And it kicks off today. We’re all in Chicago for the next four days and it’s awesome.I can sit down and immediately get sucked into a conversation about the best way to use maps as a hook activity or how to use the latest Library of Congress mobile app or where I can find the best primary sources for AP World History. And that’s considered normal behavior.
These are my people.
Thursday is really just a warm-up day. The official NCSS conference jumps off tomorrow. Today is tours, pre-cons, half day workshops, and the National Social Studies Supervisors Association conference. I get the chance to spend all day with NSSSA folks learning more about working specifically with teachers.
But like every year at NCSS, I’ll try to live post most of the sessions I’m in. So there’s gonna be typos and weird grammar and strange paragraphs. I’ll try to fix them later. But feel free to follow along.
And right out of the gate, Read more
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
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.
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.”
“The Wikipedia of debates . . . an encyclopedia of pro and con arguments and quotes. A project of the International Debate Education Association”
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.
A nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
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.
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.
We’ve chatted before about ways to introduce, talk about, and integrate controversial topics on our classrooms. Today I’m flashing back to a conversation I had with Charles Vaughan, a high school teacher from South Carolina. Ten months ago, he shared some of his experiences and thoughts on incorporating political topics into his instruction.
Some of what he referenced seems relevant this week as the congressional impeachment inquiry continues to ramp up. Quoting from an article in an Atlantic titled The Case for Contentious Classrooms, Charles highlighted the importance of what he calls a political classroom:
“Schools teach many things. For the most part, though, they have not not taught students how to engage in reasoned, informed debates across society’s myriad differences.”
He also shared some thoughts based on a book titled The Political Classroom by Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy. During an interview titled Politics in the Classroom. How Much is Too Much? on NPR, McAvoy asks: Read more
I’ll be honest. I’m having trouble processing the recent hate inspired events in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
But one thing that has become clear to me over the last few years is that the more we talk about racism and discrimination – starting with the fact that they exist – the better chance we have of combating their effects.
To ignore these shootings and the shooting attack on Oslo’s al-Noor Islamic Center four days ago and the June arson fires of three African American churches in Louisiana and the May arson attack on a mosque in New Haven, Connecticut and the March attacks on New Zealand mosques and last year’s attack on a Pittsburg synagogue and the 2017 demonstrations in Charlottesville and the 2015 African American church shooting in Charleston and all of the other too numerous to mention incidents . . . to ignore as teachers this pattern of violence – not to mention what is happening online – seems like educational malpractice.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we shouldn’t teach our kids about what has and is happening in this country and around the world.
But I don’t think I am.
I think we have a responsibility as social studies teachers to give our kids the tools they need to make the world a better place. And part of that skill set has to include conversations about past and present intolerance. Is it easy? No. Can it be done. Yes. (You might try this, or this, maybe this, and I love this.)
Another way to create that skill set is to do a better job of focusing on the human stories of the Holocaust. I know that many of you teach the Holocaust and teach it well. But as you’re planning your nine month scope and sequence to include these sorts of conversations, would you mind if I share a few semi-random thoughts? Read more
As a founding member of the National Women’s History Project, Mary Ruthsdotter knows the importance of teaching kids about the accomplishments of women.
“As a youngster, I thought I had drawn the short straw being born female. None of the stories I was told of adults actively and effectively engaged in the world had to do with women. How startling it was to learn (after college!) that women have played important roles in every aspect of American life – establishing homes for family life, fighting and spying during every war, establishing social service networks, and dramatically influencing laws and attitudes.”
Students who don’t learn the facts can develop the wrong idea about what women have accomplished. Ruthsdotter continued:
“If women’s contributions and accomplishments are not mentioned, the omission is not even noticed, but a subtle lesson is learned just as certainly: Women haven’t done anything important. Knowing that teachers cannot pass along what they themselves have not been taught, the NWHP aims to make excellent, user-friendly materials readily available for all areas of the K-12 curriculum. Language arts, social studies, creative arts, the sciences – women have been active in all these areas, and the stories of their accomplishments are fascinating.”
Couldn’t agree more.
But I’m conflicted about the whole Women’s History Month thing – a lot like my hesitation around the idea of a separate Black History Month. Too many of us still use February and March to have kids memorize random black history and women’s history facts and call it good. (We also seem to have a habit of doing the same thing with Latino history and Asian American history and Native American history and . . . well, you get the idea.)
I’m conflicted because I know many of you may be looking for great Women’s History month resources. And I have a list. But part of me is afraid that it will only get used between now and the end of the month.
So here’s the deal. You can have the list. But Read more