One way or the other, things will probably get a bit more . . . hmm, interactive in your classrooms over the next few weeks. As final results from today’s election trickle in this week and mail-in ballots are counted, you will most likely have some students who will question the results. Making class discussions difficult and uncomfortable.
But that sort of learning can be difficult. I get that. Throw the pandemic into the mix and I can’t think of a tougher time to be a classroom teacher. And you’re not alone in being concerned about taking on controversial topics.
Education Week survey data gathered back in 2017 suggested that many teachers find it difficult to talk about race, politics, and other controversial topics. Almost 30 percent expressly avoid it completely. Part of the problem is that many of us – 44 percent – don’t feel prepared to lead conversations that will probably get emotional.
So should you even try? And if you do decide to take on that challenge, what’s the best way to deal with those conversations?
Answer to the first question? Read more
Several days ago, a group of us got together to do some Inquiry Design Model creation. And one of our conversations focused on the interactions between indigenous people and European colonists during the early years of the United States. That led to further discussions around Columbus Day vs. Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
As part of that conversation, I asked teachers to read a couple of different articles focusing on primary sources and thinking about the voices that may be missing from the stories those sources are telling. The first article, Teaching Hard History With Primary Sources, is from Teaching Tolerance and provides resources for including voices of enslaved persons in American history.
The second was published just a few weeks ago at Education Week. Titled How Do We Teach With Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing?, the article highlights the difficulty in telling a complete story when Native American voices can be hard to find. Bottom line? We need to train both ourselves and our students to look beyond what the easy to find sources are telling us. It’s what Sam Wineburg called “reading the silences.”
Finding these missing voices is important for a lot of reasons. But one particular quote in the EdWeek article stood out for me: 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.
Like most of you, I first ran across the Structured Academic Controversy idea via Sam Wineburg and his Stanford History Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian curriculum. Specifically SHEG’s Was Lincoln a Racist lesson. But there’s always been that sense that Wineburg and his troop of SHEG geniuses adapted the strategy to fit their needs. And maybe I’ve been doing it wrong. So thanks Georgia Brown from Grayslake, Illinois who led a conversation this afternoon about what it can look like outside the SHEG universe.
So let’s start with the basics. What is a Structured Academic Controversy?
It’s a cooperative learning strategy developed by brothers David and Roger Johnson to engage small groups of students in the discussion of controversial issues. Through a series of steps, students add to their understanding of an issue or question. After students have fully explored and analyzed the pro and con arguments on an issue or question, they work as a group to reach a consensus on the issue.
So it’s not a debate. There are no winners and losers here. We’re just trying to find the best answer to the question. But looking at pros and cons gives kids the chance to look at multiple perspectives without the pressure of having to “win.”
Feel free to head over to the original Johnson brothers article and get their research and instructions. And you’re done. But we had a great conversation about what it can look like in the classroom so don’t be afraid to head back here for a few more tips and tricks.
Georgia started with the basic steps in the process she uses: Read more
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of yelling going on. Social media. Cable news. Local coffee shops. People disagreeing, not getting along, refusing to compromise their “values.”
And school classrooms can seem like a safe space where we can protect our students from all of that ugliness. Education Week survey data gathered back in February suggested that many teachers find it difficult to talk about race, politics, and other controversial topics. Almost 30 percent expressly avoid it completely. Part of the problem is that many of us – 44 percent – don’t feel prepared to lead conversations that might get emotional.
So . . . two questions here. Read more
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
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