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Posts from the ‘21st century skills’ Category

3 ways (and a couple of bonus tips) for using Loom to create powerful learning activities

It’s cold. Seriously cold. So even if your building wasn’t already doing the COVID remote dance, the cold and snow probably chased your kids out of the building for at least a few days.

And connecting with your students is always difficult, current conditions are making it even harder.

Loom, a free, ready to use screencast recording tool, can help.

Simple to use. Simple to share. There’s a free version for teachers and kids. And it works great for both face to face classrooms and remote learning environments.

If you’re already using Loom, you may be in the wrong place. This post is for Loom newbies and how we can use the tool as part of effective social studies instruction. So maybe take a few minutes to browse through a list of History Tech posts highlighting historical thinking resources and strategies. (But you’re not gonna hurt my feelings if you skip past the quick Loom introduction and scroll down for the social studies examples.)

So what’s a screencast recording tool? Basically it’s a button you push that records your screen while at the same time recording your face and voice, saving them all together in a downloadable and shareable video format. And it does all of that in a matter of seconds.

Need a quick example? Read more

5 ways that Google Jamboard can save your Social Studies bacon

I know that Google will eventually rule the world. And right now I think I’m okay with that. Because, especially in the last ten months, Google tools have been a life saver.

You’ve got Classroom.

Drive.

Earth.

Arts & Culture. MyMaps.

Calendar. Forms. Slides. Browser Extensions. Add-Ons.

All useful tools that can help social studies teachers and students collect, collaborate, create, and communicate in ways that weren’t possible a few years ago. (Though I’m still bitter about that decision to blow off Expeditions. Seriously, Google?)

And, of course, my latest fave . . . Google Jamboard.

Originally created by Google to work with an interactive whiteboard (trust me, your school probably can’t afford the actual hardware), Jamboard software also works on laptops, Chromebooks, and mobile devices. Making it perfect as both a face to face and a remote instructional and learning tool.

It’s actually been around for a few years but I’ve noticed over the last few months as I’ve been using it with teachers that people aren’t that familiar with it. And you should be . . . because whether you’re teaching F2F or some sort of remote learning option, Jamboard needs to be part of your instructional toolkit.

How might you use it? Here are five ways that Jamboard can save your bacon: Read more

You need this simple Google Doc of Social Studies skills goodness (and maybe this huge doc of competencies)

We are one day away from the release of the Kansas State Department of Education’s Navigating Change document. The document is currently in the hands of the state board of education for final approval and if they sign off on it, then we’ll all finally get to see it tomorrow.

Okay. Who am I kidding? After a draft version was released last week, I’m pretty sure half the state’s population has a copy. What I should have said is that tomorrow we’ll all get to see the official, final, approved version of the Navigating Change document.

If you’re not from around here, districts and teachers across the state of Kansas have been waiting since May for some direction about what school might look like this fall. The document is designed to go beyond simply providing suggestions for opening schools. It will also provide direction on what actual classroom instruction might look like in an environment that might include both face to face as well as remote learning.

The document is large. As in . . . 1100 pages large. It sounds like a lot. But almost of all it is made up of four different grade bands that contain a list of suggested competencies or skills that each kid should master before moving to the next grade band. And each list contains what are called Priority and Extended Competencies.

So when we look at the social studies / humanities 6-8 grade band section, we’re talking about maybe just three or four pages.

The idea is that as schools experience COVID-19 disruptions they can adapt instruction by focusing just on the Priority Competencies, rather than trying to cover every standard, every benchmark, all the content. The goal is to encourage Read more

Wayback Wednesday: These are the 7 most important things our students should be learning. Or maybe not.

I wrote this post about 18 months ago.

Back during the Before Times.

Back when, you know, things were normal and not so fricking . . . not normal. At the time, along with some amazing social studies rock stars, I got the chance to review and update the state standards document. That revised document was approved by the state board just days before all of this fricking . . . not normal stuff started. And I do think this newly approved, just rolled out document is better. It focuses on process while providing flexibility for local districts to decide on specific content.

And in many ways, it’s a fairly radical departure from what many state level standard documents look like. It’s got some suggestions on broad ideas and themes, some ideas on grade level scope and sequence. But no required history minutiae. No specific dates. Or people. Or events. We wanted kids to walk away with critical thinking skills that they can apply in a variety of contexts.

But now I’m curious.

If we had known then what we know now, would we have created something even more revisionist? As in, as the educational system is shifting towards a more blended, hybrid learning environment – one focused on problem-based learning, on a competency-based model rather than seat time – do the standards need to be pared down even more?

What truly is important for social studies students to know and be able to do? And do we even call them social studies students any more? Would Humanities students make more sense?

This Wayback Wednesday post focuses on 2018 Washington Post article that asked seven history gurus a simple question:

What are the most important things young people should be learning in school today?

Your homework is simple. Answer the question: Read more

Thursday Throwback: The humanities are “useless.” (Unless you want a job. Or to change the world.)

It’s Thursday. I’m busy with some stuff that needs to get done and you need something to read. So take five minutes to browse through one of my faves from a few years ago. It seems especially important this spring that we continue to state the case for the social studies and humanities.

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As my two kids weaved their way through middle and high school, they experienced the first waves of STEM, Career Pathways, and the focus by school districts on specific technical skills. As students who were also interested in art, music, and journalism, it became difficult for them to find room in their schedules for those “non-essential” courses.

The reasoning? We need to get kids ready for high paying jobs after graduation. Get them ready for engineering majors in college. For careers in computer science or coding cause that’s where the money is.

Not that STEM and tech and career tracks and coding for 8th graders is necessarily a bad thing. I truly believe that we need to provide all types of learning experiences and opportunities for our students. But it seemed at times as if all of those things were added at the expense of things like art, history, and music.

It’s gotten better as STEM morphed into STEAM and personalized learning plans have become the norm here in the Midwest, giving students more latitude in what and how they study. But I still hear – and maybe you do too – that the liberal arts and humanities classes are “extra” kinds of things in grades 6-12 and something to be completely avoided during any sort of post-secondary experience.

To me, it becomes problematic when there’s a singular focus on specific job skills or career tracks. It’s not just that our students can end up missing out on exploring ways to make sense of and improve the world they live in – developing tolerance, understanding others, building empathy, strengthening communication skills, and solving problems.

It’s also pushes an assumption about the perceived monetary value of some disciplines and the “worthlessness” of others. As social studies teachers, we need to continue to champion the value of what we do. The content and skills that kids learn in a history class are important for everybody, whether they’re repairing wind turbines, managing a hedge fund, or setting up a company wide LAN.

Here’s the point. Read more