The video game Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag came about five years ago. And as an avid fan of Assassin’s Creed, my son and his friends were some of the first in line to purchase it. And play it.
If you’re not familiar with the Assassin’s Creed line of video games, they’re basically an action adventure featuring a centuries old struggle between two groups of people – the Assassins, who fight for peace and free will, against the Templars, who believe peace comes through control of humanity. There’s fighting, walking around, some fighting, sneaking around, more fighting, some running, and then some more fighting. Fairly typical video game.
The thing that makes the series a little different than many other action adventure or first person shooter games, is the creators of Assassin’s Creed have been very deliberate about mixing the historical fiction of Assassins vs. Templars with real-world historical events and figures. In Assassin’s Creed III, for example, the setting is the American colonies before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. And there’s a cut scene depicting a version of the Boston Massacre that does a great job of creating the sense of place around that event, perfect for creating a idea of what that event might have looked like and the ambiguity around how the event transpired.
My son experienced the same sort of historical involvement when he was playing Black Flag. Set in the 18th century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy, Black Flag obviously was telling a fictional story. But to be successful in that story, players need to know a lot about what life was like during that period and in that place. I asked him later about his experience: Read more
The Smithsonian is not the only collection of museums in the country. There are others. But I am gonna argue that the collection of 19 Smithsonian museums and galleries is the largest and most awesome and coolest and most educational and easiest to use of them all. I mean, between the 19, they’ve got over 155 million artifacts, documents, resources, and specimens. If you can find what you need in all of that, you’re just not trying.
One of the newest and awesomest Smithsonian museums is the National Museum of the American Indian. And they just updated their education section to make your trying just a little easier.
Why is that a big deal? Read more
It seems appropriate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to share a new resource highlighting the Civil Rights Movement.
Created by the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Public Broadcasting company, the Civil Rights Virtual Learning Journey transports students to a critical period of time in our history. The site is loaded with comprehensive content including 14 videos, primary source images and documents, compelling photo galleries, interactive maps, artwork, music, and more. The collection invites students into an engaging exploration of some of the most significant events of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Civil Rights Virtual Learning Journey explores seven themes and their topics: Read more
So. Much. Learning.
Getting the chance to be part of the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference can be both overwhelming and inspiring. There are so many people to meet, so many new ideas, so many new tools to explore.
I feel smarter just thinking about it.
Two of the things I noticed while I was immersed in the 2017 History Nerdfest? There is a common language and expectation around the idea of historical thinking – that using evidence and primary sources and sourcing and having kids solve problems is a good thing. Second? There is a commitment to using technology as one of the tools for helping kids make sense of the world around them.
It wasn’t always like that. NCSS and its members have come a long way in embracing the power of tech tools as part of social studies instruction and learning. That’s a good thing. A specific example that focuses on historical thinking and technology are the very cool things that the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program is doing with sims and gaming platforms.
One of the coolest? Read more
It’s always fun having my kids around during the summer. We chat about books, take short trips, discuss politics, argue about gardening techniques, and they make fun of my love for the Kansas City Royals.
The youngest one heads back to school in Minnesota in a few weeks. She’s been busy this summer selling snow cones and working in the local library. And . . . wait for it . . .
. . . she’s also spent two days a week as an National Archives unpaid intern at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. How cool is that? The other day, she got the one on one backstage pass tour of stored artifacts. She knows I love the golf so she made sure to share how, among other things, she held Dwight’s Augusta National member’s green jacket. And his favorite golf hat.
You know. Just rubbing my nose in it.
But she’s also come home excited about Read more