Smarter. That’s the goal.
Most of you already know about the History Tech summer reading program. For years, I’ve been intentional about selecting a stack of books to read through the summer months. Mike Ortmann, amazing teacher, social studies superhero, and unofficial mentor, encouraged me to use June, July, and August as a time for personal professional growth. Use the summer to build content knowledge and teaching chops with some individual book study.
It was great advice then. It still is. Getting better at what we do should always be a focus. And what better time to do that than right now? You’ve got a little free time. I’m guessing there’s an easy chair by an AC vent or an Adirondack set up outside somewhere.
I’m still a fan of print but feel free to go the e-book or audio route. Heck . . . there are great podcasts out there as well. But Mike was right. Summer’s the perfect time for personal professional growth.
Here’s what I got going. What’s on your list? Read more
If you aren’t a member, it’s time. Seriously.
If you’re teaching social studies K-12 and not a member of the National Council for the Social Studies, it’s time. Professional organizations in general are a good thing – they support the discipline, provide resources, offer avenues for advocacy, and promote high level conversations between members.
And because the NCSS focuses specifically on social studies, it’s perfect for folks like you and me. There are multiple memberships options available including a digital version. One of the biggest things I get out of my membership are the NCSS journals that arrive in my inbox and mailbox throughout the year. Social Education, Middle Level Learning, and Social Studies and the Young Learner provide a wealth of ready to use resources and teaching strategies.
I’m always finding great ideas to use and share and one of my favorites just showed up. The May / June issue includes their Notable Trade Books pullout and it’s always chock full of hundreds of the latest fiction and non-fiction books perfect for K-8 classrooms. (If you’re High School and are ready to check out seeing that K-8 tag, hang on. Feel free to scroll to the bottom for lists you can use.) Read more
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.
I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Dan Krutka. While in the Kansas area and now at the University of North Texas, Dan has always been a huge supporter of social studies and integrating tech. And the cool thing is he’s here at #ncss18 talking about how to use picture books to support elementary social studies best practices. Even better? My new friend Dr. Michelle Bauml from Texas Christian University is here as co-presenter.
I’m smarter just being in the same room.
They start with the basics. Why should we be using picture books to help teach social studies?
- emphasis on math and reading so very little for social studies specific instruction
- textbooks are old and boring
- need for teaching introducing historical thinking to kids
- lots of children’s lit already being used as teaching tools
We moved on to a brand new site for me called the Historical Thinking Project. Created by the Canadian government, the project highlight six historical thinking concepts and a ton of resources. The concepts are especially useful because we can use them to help develop essential questions around the content in picture books.
- Establish historical significance
- Use primary source evidence
- Identify continuity and change
- Analyze cause and consequence
- Take historical perspectives, and
- Understand the ethical dimension of historical interpretations.
Dan and Michelle simple steps to designing a lesson using the concepts and book content: Read more
I’m trying to crawl my way out of an Interwebs rabbit hole this afternoon. I tumbled in pretty deep while researching an upcoming presentation on teaching controversial topics in the classroom.
And it’s impossible at this point to try and reconstruct the paths I’ve gone down. But basic in a nutshell . . . I got distracted by the huge number of fiction and non-fiction resources that started turning up that seemed perfect for supporting instructional designs focused on conversations on race, immigration, or gender.
So the rabbit hole was not completely unrelated. It’s all still stuff connected to my original topic – though somehow I did end up landing on the FiveThirtyEight polling page and the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium Through My Eyes YouTube video.
I also ran across a few belief statements from New York’s Bank Street College of Education that align perfectly with why teaching controversial issues is so important.
What potentialities in human beings – children, teachers, and ourselves – do we want to see develop?
- . . . gentleness combined with justice in passing judgments on other human beings.
- The courage to work, unafraid and efficiently, in a world of new needs, new problems, and new ideas.
How cool is that? As a big believer in the power of books to connect emotion and content, I love how these statements support the power of fiction and non-fiction in the social studies.
So I figured that I might as well share some of what I found, starting with a few of the books I ran across and then a list of lists. A quick warning, allow yourself some time for browsing – you may be here a while: Read more
Elementary kids freak me out. They’re sticky. They smell funny. And they throw up. All the time. Seriously. All the time. Every day.
My wife teaches elementary kids. She. Is. A. Saint. And she tells me that her kids don’t throw up every day. I want to believe her but I’m not convinced.
The point? I could never teach elementary kids. But somebody needs to teach them social studies skills, concepts, and content. Without a strong social studies foundation in the early grades, it becomes more difficult to build strong historical thinking skills and content knowledge in middle and high school.
So if you teach K-8, or know someone who does, this book is designed just for you: 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