I never really thought much about using art as a social studies instructional tool. It was never something mentioned during my methods classes. We never studied it during my history content courses. And I never had much experience actualy creating art.
I mean . . . sure, I finger painted with the best of them. But it just didn’t occur to me to find ways to integrate art as part of my social studies instruction.
Then my kids came along. They loved creating all sorts of art. (The whale to the left is from my son’s primitive stage.) So I learned more about past and present art, I began thinking about the context of the artists, and I started seeing how art in all of its forms are great examples of primary sources.
The Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery strategies and lessons helped. I also fell in love with Google’s Arts and Culture site. So much goodness.
And now Google is making it even easier to find and view artwork for your lessons and units. Read more
I am not musically inclined. I like music. I listen to music. Love the Spotify. But I don’t play an instrument and karaoke only in large groups. Maybe I just never had the right training but it’s hard to imagine any music teacher being very successful in coaxing out my inner Bob Dylan.
Which is why it’s not easy for me to think about using music as an important piece of social studies instruction. You might be the same way – integrating music and song lyrics into your classroom just isn’t the first or second thing that comes to mind when you’re designing lessons and units.
But it should be.
I was reminded last night how powerful music can be and how we can use it to help kids connect with our content during the weekly #sschat. Focused on the intersection of music and social studies, the chat provided a wide variety of useful ideas and resources.
Led by Chris Hitchcock and the folks at Get Sounds Around, a bunch of us sat around and shared tips and tools. You can get the full transcript over at sschat but here’s a few of the tidbits I gathered: Read more
Yesterday, I felt smart. I had just finished a full day with some of the best social studies teachers around. We had talked about hyperdocs, completed a BreakoutEdu, identified photos as either real or fake, learned about a variety of graphic organizers, and participated in an awesome video conference focused on the Smithsonian Learning Lab with Darren Milligan and Kate Harris.
I felt smart. I had learned some stuff. I had taught some stuff. My brain was feeling good.
I should have stopped while I was ahead. Read more
The beauty of studying history is that you can never learn it all. There’s always something new to discover. A fresh piece of evidence. Another interpretation. A person or event or idea that has always been there . . . just waiting to be uncovered.
Maybe it’s a small discovery that changes how you personally understand the world. This week I learned that Paul Revere was an amateur dentist. (And if you’re like me, there’s now an image in your head of Revere on a horse – “The cavities are coming! The cavities are coming!”)
Not earth-shattering. But still cool.
And then there are those people and events that are just a bit bigger and should change how we all see the world. The movie and book Hidden Figures are like that.
Seriously? How did that slip by?
African American women calculating aeronautical and astronomical math, helping push the United States into space? In the Jim Crow South? Now that’s cool. And powerful. And part of the American story. But up until the last few years, the story of people like Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson was relatively unknown and certainly not mentioned in any of the history classes I ever took.
Which brings us to February.
And Black History Month.
I’m always a bit conflicted about the idea. The concept of a month specifically set aside for the study of Black History started back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The hope was that Black History Month would provide a very intentional time for all of us to remember together the struggles of African Americans to obtain the basic civil rights afforded to others, the challenges African Americans have faced for centuries, and the contributions of African Americans to who we are. But . . . the real hope was Read more
I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.
But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!
Okay. I know that movies about teachers rarely tell the whole story. You know the ones I’m talking about – movies like:
- Stand and Deliver
- Freedom Writers
- Dangerous Minds
- Mr. Holland’s Opus
- Lean On Me
They rarely show the hours of grading, the phone calls from parents, IEP meetings, kids throwing up on your shoes, music program practice, endless committees, extra duties, coaching – though there does always seem to be some sort of happy ending.
But ya know . . . I still enjoy ’em. My favorite? Read more
I flew into Washington yesterday afternoon and had a few hours to kill before the Nerdfest kicked off and so had the chance to visit a couple of the DC museums – I spent a few hours at the International Spy Museum and a couple of hours at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Never been to the Spy Museum, a little cheesy but still interesting. (To give you an idea, if you’ve never had the chance, it has a whole floor dedicated just to James Bond villians.)
The National Portrait Gallery? So cool. Seriously. Three huge floors of . . . well, mostly portraits. But other artwork and photographs and famous people and Civil War images and basically America from start to the present through the eyes of artists. (To give you an idea, the famous painting of Alexander Hamilton is. Right. Over. There.)
I’ve been before to the NPG before and stood there looking at all of this history, thinking to myself
How can social studies teachers use this?
Thanks to the last session of Day One and Briana White, now I know. As the manager of Teacher Programs at the National Portrait Gallery, Briana knows how social studies teachers can use all of that history.
She started by sharing the mission of the NPG: Read more