I’ve been on a serious Nathaniel Philbrick kick over the last few months and just finished Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War. It’s an incredibly interesting and detailed exploration of the interactions between the Indigenous nations of what we now call New England and English Pilgrims and Puritans during the 1600s.
One issue that Philbrick was very open about reminded me of a conversation I had with a group of upper elementary teachers several years ago. I had asked them to read an article titled How Do We Teach With Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing? Published by Education Week, the article highlights the difficulty in telling a complete story when Indigenous voices are hard to find, the same issue that Philbrick struggled with.
Bottom line? We need to train both ourselves and our students to look beyond what the easy to find sources are telling us. (I’m looking at you, Schoolhouse Rock. And our textbooks. And a lot of contemporary trade books.) It’s what Sam Wineburg once called “reading the silences.” We need to be more intentional about finding and using sources that fill in those silences, than let kids listen to the stories that are often untold and left out.
Finding these missing voices is important for a lot of reasons. But one particular quote in the EdWeek article stood out for me:
I’m so lucky. Four times a year with the Essdack SS PLC, I get the chance to sit around, drink as much Diet Pepsi as I want, talk to super smart social studies teachers, and walk away smarter.
We started meeting after our last Teaching American History grant ended because we couldn’t imagine not getting together anymore. Over the last ten years or so, the group has changed but the goal is still the same:
sit around, drink Diet Pepsi, talk to super smart social studies teachers, walk away smarter.
Last week was no different. Jill Weber shared some claim / evidence / reasoning magic. We explored the brand new African Americans in the Midwest website, and Laura McFarren walked us through something she calls Masterpiece Matchup.
Laura teaches middle school US History in Derby and is always on the lookout for ways to engage her kids with primary sources. Cause . . . like for most of us, that’s always a struggle. But in a perfect example of teachers helping teachers, Laura ran across an idea from Amanda Sandoval called Masterpiece Matchup. (FYI – Amanda is amazing. And, yes, you should be following her. If for no other reason than to see how she has her learning environment arranged.)
Laura took Amanda’s original idea, mashed it up with a SHEG Structured Academic Controversy that focuses on the Lewis and Clark expedition, tried it in her 8th grade classroom, and shared it with the group. And it was awesome. As the A-Team’s Hannibal Smith used to say:
Google Arts and Culture might just the most underutilized Google tool of all time. There is so much stuff that we as social studies teachers can use from the site. And if you haven’t been over there to poke around lately, youneed to get off the couch and head over.https://artsandculture.google.com/
First known as the Google Art Project, the site was launched just over ten years ago as an online platform that highlighted high-resolution images and videos of artworks and cultural artifacts from partner organizations and museums from around the world. So for history and humanities teachers, the site was super powerful from the get-go.
Basically it’s a database of artwork, objects, artifacts, and documents from thousands of museum collections and historical sites from around the world. Much of this content comes from Arts and Culture partners – public museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. These partners also provide such things as 3D tour views and street-view maps that allow you to “walk” through their actual brick and mortar sites.
So what kinds of things can you find at Arts & Culture? At the basic level, you can find artwork, history, and geographic places. But within that structure, there is so much more. Seriously. It is incredibly easy to stop in for a quick search and surface an hour later, having gotten sucked into whatever cool thing lead to the next cool thing that lead to a 3D tour of some cool place.
But recent changes and additions make it even more useful.
My daughter was able to spend some time last year in Washington DC waiting to start an internship at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. And she had a few days to act like a tourist – touring monuments, exploring great little eateries, and visiting museums that have remained open. One of her new faves is the Folger Shakespeare Library. And to be honest, it’s a site I haven’t spent a ton of time exploring until she started texting photos and links to it.
One of the most interesting images for me as a history nerd?
A photo of a botany book from 1672.
Written by a guy named William Hughes, the book focused on the “roots, shrubs, plants, fruit, trees, herbs Growing in the English Plantations in America.” Hughes, who apparently was also a pirate, added a separate “Discourse of The Cacao Nut Tree and the use of its Fruits with all of the ways of making Chocolate into Drink.”
So I’m hooked already. Old books. Chocolate. And piracy. How have I never heard of this place before now?
Here’s the point. We can sometimes get in a rut in our instruction. Textbooks. The occasional SHEG lesson plan. Some Library of Congress documents now and again. And a test. There always seems to be a test.
I know that most of you are settled deep into holiday break mode. Getting up a little bit later than normal. Watching football. Eating too much. Catching up on your reading. Trying to decide if The Mandalorian is worth your time. Enjoying family and friends. Not really thinking about the back to school schedule that cranks up in January.
But if you need a break from all of that free time, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-live five of the most popular History Tech posts from 2019. Enjoy the reruns!
It comes but once a year. The National Social Studies Supervisors Association and National Council for the Social Studies combined conference. For a history nerd, it’s the winter holiday break, the Final Four, and fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies all rolled into one event.
For three days, it’s about conversations that focus on social studies, tools, resources, evidence, and best practices. So what did I learn?
Kelsey Pacer and Laura Israelsen are my people. They may be more nuts about Googley stuff than I am and love sharing their favorite tools and ideas. I sat in on part of their My Maps session earlier in the week and this afternoon, they’re sharing some great ideas for using Google Arts and Culture.
If you never had the chance to visit Arts and Culture, you really need to set time aside to do some serious exploring. The site is dedicated to Read more
Glenn Wiebe – social studies nerd, consultant, tech guy
Thanks for dropping by! As a curriculum consultant for ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas, History Tech is my chance to rattle on about social studies and technology. Feel free to poke around.
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Evidence Analysis Window Frames and Tools for Teaching & Learning
At ESSDACK, we want to offer tools and products that encourage you to learn and work when and where you want. Check out these handy products that can be used as instructional tools and professional learning opportunities in ways that work best for you.
The very cool Evidence Analysis Window Frame that scaffolds historical thinking skills and helps kids make sense of primary sources.
But you'll also find C4 Cards and 25 Days of History Tech Tools to help you grow professionally.