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Posts from the ‘government’ Category

Creating both great producers and consumers of information

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

Tip of the Week: Bias, civic literacy, and historical thinking skills

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

Teaching Toolkit: 9 resources for discussing the government shutdown

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

Stuff I didn’t know: Fred Korematsu, civil liberties, and those very cool 10 amendments

There are so many things that I don’t know. I don’t know how the KC Chiefs lost a playoff game to the Tennessee Titans. I don’t know why people eat brussel sprouts. I have no idea how to tie a bowtie.

And that’s just the stuff that doesn’t really matter. There’s always tons of stuff that I should know but don’t.

Need an example? I didn’t know until today that there is an official Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Yup. Should have known that. I do know who Fred Korematsu is. But I didn’t know there was a special day set aside just for him and civil liberties.

How cool is that? I love this. We need as many days as we can get that celebrate civil rights and the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution.

Quick review. Read more

Bill of Rights Day 2017: “Pushing to expand liberty to all . . .”

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