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Posts from the ‘C4’ Category

Likes, wonders, and powerful student presentations

I’ve always liked the idea of Likes & Wonders. Asking kids to think about art, for instance. Or during gallery walks of student products.

But I haven’t really thought much about the idea of using the same sort of thinking process during live presentations by students. So yesterday was a new learning experience for me when I got the chance to play a part in PBL guru Ginger Lewman’s two day Passion-Based Learning session.

Ginger was working with a small group of high school teachers, walking through some PBL steps and asking teacher groups to do sample presentations. Along with a few other ESSDACK folks, I sat in on one of the presentations as a “student” listening to the presentation.

And it was cool to see the Likes and Wonders idea applied to student presentations.

We’ve all seen it. A kid or group of kids get up. They do three or four or 15 minutes of a presentation. Chances are, the preso isn’t that good. And the classroom audience is completely disengaged. Kids in the audience have either already presented and don’t care anymore or they’re presenting next and are freaking out.

The whole point here is get kids to think historically and practice literacy skills. So what to do when presentations aren’t that good and the audience is nowhere to be found? Read more

50+ tasty tools for building historical literacy

We’re all on the lookout for great materials and tools that can help as we design instruction. SHEG. Library of Congress. National Archives. Evidence Window Frames.

So it’s alway a pleasant surprise when a list of handy dandy tools and resources drops in your lap. About a week ago, I was searching for a specific online article that I had forgotten to Pocket. And . . . the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools: K-12 Social Studies resource page popped up in the results.

Instant fan.

Drew Hammill and John Nabors work as Read more

Brainstorming is a waste of time. Try this instead

We’ve been a part of it. We’ve all used it. And we’ve probably all noticed that it really doesn’t work very well.

Brainstorming sounds like a good strategy. Generate new ideas. Encourage creativity. Engage lots of people all at once. In theory, it makes all sorts of sense.

But in practice, it usually falls flat.

Brainstorming was first introduced by Alex Osborn, an ad man in the 1950s. And it’s been used by millions of people, including educators. The problem?

There’s a ton of evidence that suggests that brainstorming actually harms creativity. A recent article by Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker highlights study after study that found individuals generate more ideas on their own than in groups.

A meta-analytic review says that we’re more likely to develop better ideas when we don’t interact with others. Brainstorming is particularly more likely to limit creativity in larger groups, when teams are too closely supervised, and when performance is oral rather than written.

Why? Read more

Who needs 1053 free National Park maps? You do.

We may be a nation divided by politics, religion, sports teams, and BBQ type. But we can all agree on one thing.

Maps are awesome.

And free maps are more awesomer.

So when I found out about the map site maintained by National Park Ranger Matt Holly, it was a very good day. Matt, already famous for the cutest stick story ever, is now becoming even more famous for uploading over 1000 National Park Service maps in PDF format for easy online access.

Seriously. How cool is that?

Simply titled  Read more

Tip of the Week: DocsTeach Redesign Creates Super Tool

Our job as social studies teachers is not to give our students the answers. Our job is to create great questions and then train kids to be able to address those questions. To model and facilitate the practice of reading, writing, and thinking like historians.

Rather than passively receiving information from us or our textbooks, students should be actively engaged in the activities of historians — making sense of the stories, events and ideas of the past through document analysis.

And one of the tools that every history / social studies teacher should be using to help with all of this is the incredible National Archives site DocsTeach. I first wrote about DocsTeach when it debuted six years ago in 2010. The idea of the site at the time?

the project is designed to provide useful document-based lesson plans and activities created by both NARA staff members and classroom teachers.

And it was awesome. Tons of primary sources from the National Archives. Activities that focused on and supported historical thinking skills. The ability to create your own activities, save them, and share them digitally with your students. For 2010, it truly was cutting edge.

But it debuted before mobile devices and iPads. Before national standards such as the NCSS C3 Framework and Common Core Lit standards. Before Wineburg’s Reading Like a Historian and SHEG. Before online primary evidence archives were commonplace. So even though it was an incredible idea put into practice, it was a bit clunky and not super user friendly in 2016.

But not anymore. DocsTeach just got a massive upgrade. And now there is no excuse not to use it. Because not only can you still access thousands of primary sources, borrow from an ever-expanding collection of document-based activities, and create your own online activities, there are some very sweet changes and additions to the site.
Read more

5 strategies for integrating primary source documents

When I firsted started teaching 8th grade American History, there was no access to primary sources. There weren’t any online archives. DocsTeach? Nope. Stanford History Education Group? Nope. Library of Congress? Nada.

I made due with whatever supplementary materials showed up with my textbook and the few Jackdaw kits that I was able to track down and order. But here’s the thing . . . even if I had somehow gotten access to primary source documents, I’m not sure what I would have done with them. Like most social studies teachers at the time (and more than just a few today), I really didn’t have a clue of how to use primary sources as part of the learning process.

Even worse, I wasn’t really sure why I should be using this sort of evidence. What was the point? Every kid had a textbook. I had a teacher’s version of the textbook. I could lecture. I was set.

But with the help of some amazing mentors, I began moving more towards the idea that kids need to be active users of evidence while solving problems. And there is now a clear shift in social studies and history instruction towards this idea of historical thinking, using evidence, and problem solving. More and more teachers are using primary sources as integral pieces of the learning process.

There has been a cool supply and demand process happening over the last few years. Teachers want and need more primary sources. The internet has made those sources more available and accessible. More availability and accessibility means more teachers are using those sources. More teachers used to this availability of sources demand even more sources.

But there will always be questions about how to best use primary sources. A recent article by Discovery Ed’s  does a nice job of highlighting five effective integration strategies. I’ve pasted a quick summary of Joe’s thinking but be sure to head over to Discovery Ed to get the full meal deal: Read more