A few days ago, I bragged on one of the latest Library of Congress interactive tools titled CaseMaker. Part of the Teaching with Primary Sources project, CaseMaker joined the three earlier tools that rolled out last year.
But wait. There’s more. Called DBQuest and developed by the awesome people over at iCivics, this fifth tool helps you teach history and civics through the use of primary-based documents and evidence-based learning. The multi-platform app teaches students how to make sense of evidence, contextualize information, and make and support claims using evidence-based arguments.
In DBQuest, students are provided with Read more
I will be the first to admit it. I’m in love with Sam Wineburg. The bromance started, I suppose, 15 years ago when I first ran across his book, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts. It was a fairly typical academic book focused on some guy’s research but I loved the title. And as a newly minted social studies curriculum coach, the content was right up my alley.
A former middle school teacher and college instructor, I was finding it difficult to articulate what quality history instruction could look like and how to share that vision with other educators. After 15 years in the classroom, I knew what had worked for me but I was struggling to find ways to structure that. And perhaps even more important, I wasn’t completely sure WHY it had worked.
Wineburg’s research resonated. I read more of his early articles on historical thinking skills and loved his ideas about how we needed to re-think our approach to teaching history. In a nutshell? We were doing it wrong. It’s not about memorizing. It’s not about multiple choice. It’s about asking kids to think critically about evidence and developing arguments around that evidence. Radical, right?
It’s been over ten years since I first heard Sam Wineburg speak. During a combined Kansas / Missouri Council for History Education conference way back in 2008, Sam opened with a keynote highlighting the main ideas in his book. This face to face meet cemented it. His later books, articles, research, SHEG, Beyond the Bubble, Historical Thinking Chart, civic online literacy tools . . . have all convinced me that the two of us would be great together in an action comedy buddy cop movie.
All this to say that Read more
Real or fake?
Biased or unbiased?
Trustworthy or untrustworthy?
During a recent trip through different parts of Texas, I got the chance to lead several teacher conversations around these three questions. We worked together to share strategies and resources designed around creating knowledgeable, thinking, and active citizens.
With a specific goal of training our kids to be effective consumers of online information. So our conversation wasn’t just about fake news – it was also about online civic literacy.
We started with a series of images: Read more
I spent part of last Monday working with the awesome staff of the Eisenhower Foundation at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum. They hosted 18 teachers from around the state during a week long focus on using primary sources across the curriculum.
Part of our time together was spent talking about non-traditional primary and secondary sources. The teachers were all used to using texts such as diaries, speeches, and photographs. So it was fun sharing about stuff like artifacts and audio clips. But it was even more fun playing with virtual reality tours.
I’ve shared about virtual reality before. And if you’ve been around History Tech much, you already know that I’m convinced about the power of VR tours as part of learning.
There were some interesting conversations around primary vs. secondary sources and what really makes a virtual reality tour a primary source. And, of course, we talked about possible teaching strategies and activities for using VR as part of teaching and learning. The best question that came out of the discussion was: Read more
Our current state standards have been around since 2013. Centered on five Big Ideas and a balance between content and process, the document is unlike previous standards documents. And after five years, most Kansas teachers are at least aware that we’re asking them and students to approach teaching and learning differently.
That we want students to have both foundational knowledge and historical / critical thinking skills. That social studies classrooms need to be more than drill and kill, lecture, worksheet, quiz on Friday. And that creating engaged, informed, and knowledgable citizens requires more than rote memorization and low level thinking.
While our standards look and feel differently than most other state level documents, teachers across the country – like their colleagues here in Kansas – are also being asked to concentrate on training kids to do social studies. Sam Wineburg is a household name. The teaching of historical thinking skills such as Sourcing, Contextualizing, and Corroborating is becoming commonplace. Bruce Lesh and his History Labs are being duplicated by teachers in all sorts of classrooms. The National Council for the Social Studies has also been a huge part of this pendulum shift with its College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) standards.
Good things are happening.
But . . .
Yup. There’s always a but.
During every standards training I do, every historical thinking conversation I have with teachers, there’s always a but. Read more