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Posts from the ‘historical thinking’ Category

It’s okay to throw stuff out. Now’s a good time to rethink a lot of what we’re doing.

This morning, I was poking around in the History Tech archives looking for some research on the best way to integrate literature into social studies instruction. And as often happens, I got sucked down a rabbit hole and ran across a different article I wrote five years ago and forgotten all about.

With the uncertainty of the next few months and the changes we’re being asked to make, the message seems appropriate to share today. Simply put, what we’ve always done in the past probably isn’t going to work today. Traditional types of instruction like 45 minute lectures or packets of worksheets asking kids to copy and paste answers from a textbook have never been good for kids. They become even less useful in a hybrid or remote learning environment.

A silver lining in what we’re all experiencing right now is that we have permission to do social studies differently. And not just permission. Depending on where you teach, you’ve got active support and encouragement from the powers on high to really rethink our instruction. (In Kansas, the state ed department published a 1000 page document detailing what that might look like. Feel free to jump in on that.)

Will it be easy? Nope.

Is it something we need to do? Yes . . . absolutely.

I’ve edited the five year old post a bit to update the resources at the end. But the message remains the same. Holding on to what we know won’t work is not doing our kids any favors. Be willing to lean into the hard work ahead, throw out the old, and embrace a situation with literally no walls that allows you the freedom to do all sorts of amazing things.

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I knew the day was coming. There is a fairly extensive Read more

5 ways you can use Loom to create sweet remote learning activities

I love Loom.

Simple to use. Simple to share. It’s free for teachers and kids. And it works great for both face to face classrooms and remote learning environments.

If you’re already a Loommate and love using Loom too, you may be in the wrong place. This post is for Loom newbies and how we can use the tool as part of effective social studies instruction. So feel free to browse through a list of History Tech posts highlighting historical thinking resources and strategies. (But you’re not gonna hurt my feelings if you skip past the quick Loom introduction and scroll down for the tips.)

Loom is a free, ready to use screencast recording tool. What’s a screencast recording tool? Basically it’s a button you push that records your screen while at the same time recording your face and voice, saving them all together in a downloadable and shareable format. And it does all of that in a matter of seconds.

Need a quick example? Read more

7 sites with ready to use lesson plans and 9 perfect primary source icebreakers

Today you get a two for one.

I recently got a question from a teacher that I’m pretty sure most of us are asking right about now.

“Where can I find quality history and social studies lessons that I can use either face to face or remotely?

I’ve got my quick favorites. SHEG. Library of Congress. National Archives. All can be adapted to a remote learning environment. But a few minutes of brainstorming and the list quickly grew.

So the first part of the twofer? Seven sites with tons of lessons you can use right away: Read more

You need this simple Google Doc of Social Studies skills goodness (and maybe this huge doc of competencies)

We are one day away from the release of the Kansas State Department of Education’s Navigating Change document. The document is currently in the hands of the state board of education for final approval and if they sign off on it, then we’ll all finally get to see it tomorrow.

Okay. Who am I kidding? After a draft version was released last week, I’m pretty sure half the state’s population has a copy. What I should have said is that tomorrow we’ll all get to see the official, final, approved version of the Navigating Change document.

If you’re not from around here, districts and teachers across the state of Kansas have been waiting since May for some direction about what school might look like this fall. The document is designed to go beyond simply providing suggestions for opening schools. It will also provide direction on what actual classroom instruction might look like in an environment that might include both face to face as well as remote learning.

The document is large. As in . . . 1100 pages large. It sounds like a lot. But almost of all it is made up of four different grade bands that contain a list of suggested competencies or skills that each kid should master before moving to the next grade band. And each list contains what are called Priority and Extended Competencies.

So when we look at the social studies / humanities 6-8 grade band section, we’re talking about maybe just three or four pages.

The idea is that as schools experience COVID-19 disruptions they can adapt instruction by focusing just on the Priority Competencies, rather than trying to cover every standard, every benchmark, all the content. The goal is to encourage Read more

Monday Memories: Executive Order 9066, connecting past and present

Several years ago, I posted a quick article highlighting the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. It was a good reminder for me about the power and impact of executive orders. As you begin to plan for the upcoming school year, don’t shy away from using primary sources like photographs that document uncomfortable topics. Lean into them.

Today? A Monday Memory flashback post from 2017.

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You all know photographer Dorothea Lange. If not Dorothea herself, you’ll recognize her famous candid photos taken during the 1930s highlighting the struggles of Americans suffering during the Great Depression. Her iconic Migrant Mother and the series of photos around that image depict the desperation many felt during the period.

Later in 1942, she was hired by the US government to capture images of the relocation of Japanese-Americans affected by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Thousands of American citizens were being stripped of their civil liberties, their businesses, and their homes before being placed in internment camps scattered around the country.

Lange was originally opposed to the idea but accepted the task because she thought “a true record of the evacuation would be valuable in the future.” But after reviewing her photographs and their portrayal of the Japanese American experience, the military became concerned how the images of the internment program would be received by the public.

So government leaders Read more

Using tradebooks to make your life easier and your students smarter

Long time readers know how much I love maps. I don’t really know for sure when the infatuation started but Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton may have had something to do with it.

I ran across Katy recently for the first time in years as I was sorting through bookshelves containing some old books. For those of you too young to have read Katy and the Big Snow as a child, a quick recap.

Katy is “a brave and untiring tractor” who pushes a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter, making it possible for the townspeople of Geoppolis to do their jobs. In this particular story, Katy drives around all over the town – north, south, east, and west – with her snow plow, opening up the town so that citizens could complete a variety of different public and private tasks such as delivery the mail, putting out a fire, and shopping at a grocery store.

It’s a great book for a lot of reasons but one big reason is there’s so much to look at, especially in the margins. I loved that book growing up.

The best part of the book, I’m sure we’ll all agree, Read more