Scott Noet and Kim Gilman (my good buddy from Shawnee, Kansas) met as Goethe TOP Fellows several years ago. And now they’re partnering up to share some of their best ideas about how to move students from analysis to action using STEM activities.
Kim says that we spend a ton of time focusing on helping kids to perfect their analysis skills. Nothing wrong with that. But we can’t forget that we also need to be helping kids take action – to actually using their analysis skills to make the world a better place.
I especially love a couple of things they shared: Read more
I’m in snowy and snowing Minnesota at its annual Council for the Social Studies conference. We’re sheltered inside the state History Center – what better place for a bunch of social studies teachers?
First session is right up my alley. Strengthening democracy by training kids to be better users of social media and online tools. Jennifer Bloom from the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation is helping us create socially responsible and informed citizens. The Foundation hosts the Teaching Civics website – a cool place with over 800 lesson plans. They also have some handy ed resources.
As we get better at training kids to be engaged and informed citizens, she says Read more
How often do you get the chance to shake hands with a Supreme Court icon? Someone who has their name on a landmark case that’s in all the textbooks?
That’s right. Not. Very. Often.
But today was the day. Mary Beth Tinker, yes . . . THAT Mary Beth Tinker. The Mary Beth Tinker of the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District Supreme Court case was in Topeka speaking with teachers and students at the KSDE #KSCivics civic engagement conference.
And along with about 350 others, I got the chance to meet and then listen to Mary Beth share her thoughts on the events of 1965 and connect those events to contemporary issues. So cool!
But I also got the chance Read more
It’s February. Black History Month.
And I gotta be honest. I’m always a bit conflicted about the idea. The concept of a month specifically set aside for the study of Black History started back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month of February as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The hope was that Black History Month would provide a very intentional time for all of us to remember together the struggles of African Americans to obtain the basic civil rights afforded to others, the challenges African Americans have faced for centuries, and the contributions of African Americans to who we are. But . . . the real hope was that the story of essential people, events, and places, routinely ignored, would be incorporated throughout the school year.
Recent movies such as Selma and Marshall and books such as Hidden Figures do a great job of creating a sense of a specific time period, of overt racism and violence, the need for supporting the right to vote, the courage of everyday individuals, and of the thought process behind events. The message of Black History Month remains – that the quest for equality and dignity in the United States was difficult and dangerous. And that the extraordinary work of ordinary folks such as John Lewis, Jimmie Lee Jackson, and Amelia Boynton Robinson still isn’t finished.
But I’m still a bit conflicted.
Jose Vilson, teacher and activist, Read more
Back when my youngest was in fourth grade, I asked her to preview the very cool You Are the Historian website. It’s an interactive tool that asks elementary kids to use historical thinking skills while addressing the site’s guiding question: What really happened at the first Thanksgiving?
The site led her through primary sources, to video clips of colonial historians, and to the exploration of different artifacts. After she was finished, I asked her what she learned by “playing” the game:
The past is what really happened. History is what we say happened.
I couldn’t have been prouder. That’s exactly what I hoped to hear. (And good job, BTW, You Are the Historian creators.)
History is our interpretation of evidence.
We have a problem. We look at evidence. And we figure it out. But I’m not always sure that we’re teaching our kids how to do that very well. Part of the problem is bias. We don’t always make it clear enough that everything we have our kids use to solve the problems we give them is biased.
And just as there is no such thing as unbiased primary evidence, there is no such thing as unbiased secondary evidence. All news, photos, media sites, books – it’s all biased.
Need a few examples? Read more
As a poly sci junkie, I’m torn.
The 2018 government shutdown is bad for just about everybody. And it seems like it happened over something that most Americans want to see happen – protection for Dreamers. A Fox News poll says 86% of us support DACA. A CBS poll reports 87% supporting the idea.
But the shutdown does create an opportunity to jump into all sorts of conversations involving civics and procedure and policy and elections and checks and balances and three branches and media bias . . . well, you get the idea. If you haven’t already, this week might be a good time to jump ship on your scheduled curriculum and spend some time making connections to the government side of the social studies.
Need a few quick resources? Read more