A year ago, during final keynote of the 2020 NCSS national conference, author and actor George Takei shared his experience growing up in what he called an American concentration camp. As a five year old, he and his parents were forced into several different camps during World War II simply because of their racial ethnicity.
As he shared his experiences and connected them to contemporary issues, I flashed back to an earlier History Tech post highlighting the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, FDR’s executive order legalizing the internment of thousands of American citizens like five year old George.
Takei’s session was a good reminder about the power of the Bill of Rights and what can happen when we ignore its principles. As you continue to plan your instruction for the rest of the year, don’t shy away from telling the story of America even when it makes you and your students uncomfortable.
One way to do that? Lean into using primary sources that document the topic – such as Takei’s personal story.
Takei shared a bit about his recent graphic memoir titled They Called Us Enemies. It’s a perfect (and powerful) way to begin a conversation around Executive Order 9066. Use the available teaching resources and discussion guides to hook your kids and get them asking the right sorts of questions.
Another way? Use photographs, like these taken by Dorothea Lange.
I was busy online with a small group of elementary social studies teachers yesterday afternoon when my phone started buzzing. I ignored it for a bit but after a teacher in the group sent me a private message in my Zoom window, my attention shifted. And then, of course, was distracted until late last night and into this morning.
Your role as a social studies teachers has never been more important. Or more difficult.
I was able to take part in a special #sschat session last night and walked away amazed at the power of a social studies PLN. The topic?
“How do I teach tomorrow?”
So many incredible teachers and so many amazing conversations. Blew. Me. Away. There was so much conversation going on, I’m heading back to the chat archive this evening to catch up on all I missed.
(And if you haven’t been part of an #sschat or don’t follow the hashtag, head over to their chat archives and starting getting smarter. Not sure how to do that? Start here.)
One of the amazing things that developed during last night’s chat was the crowdsourced creation of a Google spreadsheet with tons of resources. If you’re looking for ways to talk with with your kids about the events of yesterday and the events that will be taking place over the next few weeks, you need to head over and check out the combined work of hundreds of teachers: Read more
The Constitution and its amendments seem pretty straight forward. The old girl is over 200 years old and has, for the most part, held up well. But helping kids understand the fragile nature of the ideas and practices embedded in the document can be difficult . . . especially when they see, hear, and read about attempts to ignore or circumvent those ideas and practices.
It’s been a long year. Especially if you’re a social studies teachers. (Government teachers, how ya doing?)
So perhaps it’s appropriate that we celebrate Bill of Rights Day every year on December 15. We get the cake and candles out. Shoot off some fireworks. Sing some old union organizing songs. Replay scenes from the Hamilton musical. Do it up right.
Wait . . . what? How many of you didn’t know that today is Bill of Rights Day? Read more
I got the chance over the last few days to spend time with tons of social studies gurus and learn tons of new stuff at the National Council for History Education conference in Washington DC. Thanks to Dr. Richard Satchwell and Judy Bee at Illinois State University and all the folks at the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project for making the trip possible.
Part of our TPS time together was spent with developers of the five Library of Congress interactive civic education apps they’ve created. Very cool stuff that you can find at the LOC. All five are super handy for helping kids make sense of primary sources and for training students to engage as informed citizens. It was great sitting with the developers and learning more about how to use the apps with kids.
But I am just as excited about something , Chief Education Officer at iCivics, threw out at the end of her formal presentation about their DBQuest app:
We’re releasing a new iCivics game tomorrow called Race to Ratify.
She couldn’t really share a ton about it but we got the chance to get a quick taste of the game. And when she said “tomorrow,” she meant last Friday. So it’s been officially out in the wild for a few days. I’ve played with it a bit since then and it’s pretty much like all iCivics content.
Awesome. Read more
It’s been a long year.
So perhaps a reminder of our fundamental rights is a good idea. So . . . after taking a trip in the Wayback Machine, I found this earlier post in the History Tech archives. I think it still fits.
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 Read more
I first met Tim Bailey several years ago when he was the Gilder Lehrman master teacher during our Century of Progress TAH project. And he was awesome. Our teachers loved his ideas and resources. During today’s afternoon #NSSSA17 session, I got the chance to learn more from Tim.
Tim highlighted several different ideas from the Gilder Lehrman Teaching Literacy Through History lesson plan database – all immediately useable.
I love a couple of his quotes:
- Be a guide, not an interpreter.
- Primary sources are the closest thing to time travel.
Tim started by sharing What we as social studies teachers should be doing: Read more