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Posts from the ‘best practice’ Category

Need a handy assessment tool? Make a pie.

I had such a good time today. Any time I get the chance to spend time with a bunch of other social studies teachers, not much can ruin the day. Seriously . . . a whole day talking, sharing, playing with, and exploring the best social studies tools, resources, and strategies?

And during our time together we messed around with a tool that I had almost forgotten about. The Pie Chart.

The Pie Chart is a powerful graphic organizer / writing scaffold / assessment tool / Swiss army knife. It does it all and is drop dead simple. I first learned about the Pie almost a decade ago from social studies super star Nathan McAlister.

Nate was part of our Teaching American History grant as the summer seminar master teacher and used the Pie Chart as a hook activity to kick start a conversation about the causes of the Civil War.

Steps he took: Read more

ESSDACK PLC meets Russel Tarr & ClassTools. Everyone gets smarter.

We had just spent an hour or so using Russel Tarr’s simple but powerful Breaking News Generator. I wanted to talk a bit about online civic literacy and combating fake news. So I had asked our ESSDACK social studies PLC that had gotten together to use Russel’s tool to create two different stories – a factual Breaking News story and one that was biased or fake.

And, of course, the group came through in typical fashion.

The activity led to a great conversation around effective tools and resources that teachers and students can use while accessing and organizing online information. But it also led to another discussion about all of the tools available at Russel’s awesome ClassTools.net site.

Most of the group hadn’t heard of or used ClassTools.net before. So we explored some other tools including Headline Generator:

Read more

History Nerdfest 2018: Spatial Analogies and Learning Geography

It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.

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Dr. Phil Gersmehl is rocking the room with brain science and maps. His basic point:

“Kids like pretty maps. But they usually don’t learn from them.”

He’s using brain research to show how our brains unconsciously encode maps differently. What we remember depends on how we encode it. He highlighted some ways that this works and my mind is officially blown. I’ve always been a huge map fan. And I’ve always known that maps can lie. They can be used incorrectly and be confusing.

But I’ve never really thought about the reasons why. This is why he says:

Kids don’t just learn stuff from maps on their own.

Need an example?

Read more

History Nerdfest 2018: Social Studies Inquiry Made Real. Teachers as Designers

It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.

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It’s something we all struggle with.

What does instructional design look like when we combine content knowledge with historical thinking skill. The answer?

The Inquiry Design Model.

It’s a great way to integrate the NCSS Inquiry Arc into actual practice. And like the rest of you, those of us in Kansas have been wrestling with this question since 2013. We created new state standards that focus on finding a balance between content and process. It’s a great idea but what does it actually look like in practice? Teachers want and need specifics about creating learning activities that encourage historical thinking skills in their students.

Created by S.G. Grant, John Lee, and Kathy Swan, the IDM becomes part of the answer by providing a structure for integrating content and process together. Based on the Inquiry Arc of the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework, IDM helps build a connection between the head and the heart of our students while also training them to think historically.

The head has always been part of social studies but if we’re going to get under their skins, we have to connect with their hearts too. Most teachers know their content. But many struggle with helping kids care about the content

Think of a great inquiry activity created using the IDM method as “bigger than a lesson but smaller than a unit.”

What are the different parts of an IDM? Read more