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Posts from the ‘civics’ Category

Making connections to the real world

I’m spending the day at the KSDE Impact Institute – loving the learning and connecting with teachers from around the state. This afternoon has been spent nerding out with Kim Wahaus, awesome Olathe South HS government teacher. We talked about a ton of stuff but my walkaway?

That as social studies teachers, we need to be deliberate about connecting our social studies content and process with the lives of our students.

Nothing new for most of you, I know. But it was a good reminder of how important this idea really is.

Real world connections are used to help students see that learning is not confined to the school, allows them to apply knowledge and skills in real world situations, and personalizes learning to increase and sustain student engagement.

Kim shared some ideas of what that sort of conversation might look like. She started by showing a New York Times Learning Network clip highlighting the timeline of the recent Orlando shooting. Ask kids to use this clip and article to collect basic information.

Five W’s and H – who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Then she suggests showing a clip from the TV show Read more

7 ways to survive the election season while making your kids smarter

I’m not necessarily fond of politicians but I do love the political process. I love elections and all of the conversations that come with them. The commentary. The analysis. It’s like March Madness bracketology and the NFL playoffs all rolled into one. For a political science nerd like me, a brokered Republican convention? Yes, please.

But even for me, some of what’s taking place during this year’s election season is a bit much. Seriously? Hand size?

So a couple of tips to help you and your students survive the next eight months: Read more

Battleground 538 and 5 other apps to increase election fever

I love election season.

I hate politicians that say stupid things and do stupid stuff. But I love elections.

Because when you think about, the democratic election process is such an incredibly unique event. Try and ignore for a minute the billion dollars worth of Koch Brothers PAC money and the racist comments and the focus on soundbites and lack of policy discussions that might actually improve lives. And focus instead on the amazing process that ends with a peaceful transfer of power in one of the most powerful countries in the world.

It’s a system that’s worked fairly well for over 200 years.

And we need to continue sharing that idea with our students. The problem? The process is more complicated than it looks. Take, for example, an article describing why Donald Trump really doesn’t have a chance of winning the Republican nomination. Like most things, the political process (especially the primary system) is much more complicated and nuanced than pundits and politicians seem to suggest.

How can we help kids start to understand the process? Use more tech. Specifically, start using mobile apps that simulate the process in ways that make sense. Today you get a few of my new favorites. Read more

2016 #SOTU, word clouds, blackout poetry, and thinking historically

“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Article II, Section 3, US Constitution

Back in the day, George Washington delivered the first state of the union address to Congress in New York City in 1790. Thomas Jefferson believed that a face to face version was too much King George the IIIish and so began sending written reports instead. Other presidents followed suit with the report being read to Congress by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson re-started the face to face idea in 1913.

Other #SOTU trivia?

Jimmy Carter delivered the last written message to Congress in 1981. Of course, it was also the longest message at over 33,000 words, so maybe that was a good thing. Nixon’s 1972 speech was the shortest at just over 28 minutes.

But enough poly sci nerd talk. How best to use last night’s festivities? Some quick thoughts:
Read more

Bill of Rights Day 2015

Okay . . . admit it. How many of you didn’t know that today is Bill of Rights Day?

Come on, it’s okay.

Yes, I see those hands.

I first ran across Bill of Rights Day a few years ago. I consider myself a person who keeps up with this sort of thing but I had no idea. Back in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. So it’s been around a while.

And we probably need to make a bigger deal out of this than we are. Civic literacy and understanding of the nuance embedded in the first 10 Amendments seems a bit low right about now.

FDR observed in 1941 that

It is especially fitting that this anniversary should be remembered and observed by those institutions of a democratic people which owe their very existence to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. (These institutions) . . . sicken and disappear whenever, in any country, these rights are curtailed or withdrawn.

In a recent presidential proclamation, President Obama wrote: Read more

4 sites that support argumentative literacy, debates, and controversial topics

Next week, I’ll be spending time with a group of teachers as we discuss ways to support reading and writing in the social studies. Specifically, strategies for creating formative feedback opportunities that support argumentative and persuasive writing.

And what better way than by using contemporary issues tied to historical events?

A middle school teacher might use the exodus of unemployed from Detroit between 2008 and 2015 as a way to talk about why families moved to the American West during the mid to late 1800s. A high school teacher might use the Nuremberg Laws in 1930s Germany to highlight current immigration conversations. Perhaps a teacher might use laws such as the Kansas Act of 1940 and the House Concurrent Resolution 108 of 1953 to guide student thinking into 21st century discussions on race in the US and around the world.

But it’s always nice to have a little help. So plan to check out these four sites that provide resources and ideas that can help you as you delve into contemporary issues. Read more