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Posts from the ‘historical thinking’ Category

Eating your own social studies dog food

In a 2013 article in Wired magazine, written following one of the government shutdowns of the time, author Clive Thompson suggested that members of Congress should eat their own dog food. Thompson describes the “hardships” Congressmen had to endure as they waited in long airport security lines, rushing out of town on their way to hit up potential donors. Long lines they created by failing to solve federal budget issues, a failure that kicked in the ridiculous sequester idea.

“Critics warned that the sequester would cause hardship throughout the country, but congress-folk didn’t care — until they had to share in the pain. When they discovered that the sequester was eating into their vacation time, they rushed back to the Capitol and passed a law restoring funding to airports, working so fast that part of the bill was handwritten. Congress, it turns out, isn’t paralyzed. It’s just not motivated. In this spirit, there’s one simple way to get our do-nothing legislators off the dime: Have them eat their own dog food.”

Thompson goes on to describe a term I had never heard of before. In the world of software coding, “dogfooding” describes the habit of programmers actually using their own products, “day in and day out.” Invented in the early 1980s, the term – and the practice – continues because it works. Forced to live with their own code, programmers can quickly see what works and what doesn’t work. And just as quickly fix it.

Thompson suggests that Washington would be a bit more successful if Congress actually experienced life as they code it. They don’t live like . . . well, like you and me. Incredibly cheap and well run health insurance. Private schools for their kids. Great pensions. People throwing money at them left and right.

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3 ways (and a couple of bonus tips) for using Loom to create powerful learning activities

It’s cold. Seriously cold. So even if your building wasn’t already doing the COVID remote dance, the cold and snow probably chased your kids out of the building for at least a few days.

And connecting with your students is always difficult, current conditions are making it even harder.

Loom, a free, ready to use screencast recording tool, can help.

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

If you’re already using Loom, 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 maybe take a few minutes 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 social studies examples.)

So 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 video format. And it does all of that in a matter of seconds.

Need a quick example? Read more

Go beyond February. 5 ways for becoming a culturally competent communicator

Carter Woodson grew up in Virginia, moving to West Virginia at the age of 17 to attend high school. He worked as a coal miner while he studied part-time, eventually becoming a full-time student and graduating in 1897. He became a teacher and school administrator, later earning two college degrees from the University of Chicago and a doctorate from Harvard.

As a historian, Woodson established the Association for the Study of African American Life and History while advocating for the intentional and accurate teaching of African American and Black history, achievements, and accomplishments. And in 1926, he and other historians pioneered “Negro History Week” to encourage the telling of these stories beyond the lens of a Eurocentric perspective:

“For centuries we have been the victims of propaganda; and as long as the truth is denied a hearing there will always be strife among the members of the human family, and disorder like the present in which the world now finds itself will always be possible.”

This truth, Woodson claimed, was

“overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.”

Fifty years later, following the example of Black students at Kent State University, President Ford would establish Black History Month.

The hope was that Black History Month would provide a very intentional time for all of us to learn together the  contributions, challenges, and successes of African Americans; incorporating our present, the past 400 years in North America, and the the thousands of years before that in Africa. But . . . the real hope was that the stories of people, events, and places, routinely ignored, would be incorporated throughout the school year.

As educator, author, and activist Jose Vilson put it:

“. . . has it ever occurred to you that, as well-intentioned as (Black History Month) might be, we ought to take the next step and celebrate Black history on March 1st as well?”

I’m guessing we’re all in agreement on the going beyond February business. The question now becomes how to do what Woodson dreamed of and Vilson advocates.

Do I have all the answers? Not even close. But there are a lot of very smart people out there who do. What have I learned and continue to learn? Read more

5 ways that Google Jamboard can save your Social Studies bacon

I know that Google will eventually rule the world. And right now I think I’m okay with that. Because, especially in the last ten months, Google tools have been a life saver.

You’ve got Classroom.

Drive.

Earth.

Arts & Culture. MyMaps.

Calendar. Forms. Slides. Browser Extensions. Add-Ons.

All useful tools that can help social studies teachers and students collect, collaborate, create, and communicate in ways that weren’t possible a few years ago. (Though I’m still bitter about that decision to blow off Expeditions. Seriously, Google?)

And, of course, my latest fave . . . Google Jamboard.

Originally created by Google to work with an interactive whiteboard (trust me, your school probably can’t afford the actual hardware), Jamboard software also works on laptops, Chromebooks, and mobile devices. Making it perfect as both a face to face and a remote instructional and learning tool.

It’s actually been around for a few years but I’ve noticed over the last few months as I’ve been using it with teachers that people aren’t that familiar with it. And you should be . . . because whether you’re teaching F2F or some sort of remote learning option, Jamboard needs to be part of your instructional toolkit.

How might you use it? Here are five ways that Jamboard can save your bacon: Read more

You’ve got a bit of free time – perfect opportunity to head over to Anti-Social Studies. (Cause you need their stuff!)

In any normal year, December 28th is a chance to spend time with family, eat boat loads of Chex Mix, watch football, and read one or two of the new books I received as gifts.

Yeah, well . . . some of that is going to happen. But things are different enough that there’s a lot less family and way more Chex Mix. The good news is that I get the chance to explore some of the resources I’ve been dropping in my Pocket over the last few months. And I may have just stumbled onto a new favorite.

An earlier post this fall highlighted some of my favorite podcasts. Well . . . I missed one. Read more

I’m still loving hexagonal thinking. And so should you.

I can’t remember where I first learned about hexagons in the classrooms. But I’ve loved them ever since I started exploring the idea. If you’re already using hexagons, good on you. You are excused. (Though feel free to hang around for a quick refresher and maybe a couple of new tools.)

If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, you’re in the right place.

Using hexagonal thinking in the social studies classroom is a way for students to think about and understand connections between ideas, people, places, dates, events – basically all the stuff we’re asking our kids to mess with while they’re in our classrooms. Hexagons are a perfect tool or creating intentional conversations between students and content. They give you a great tool to encourage deep and critical thinking about the foundational knowledge that make up the discipline.

Why are they perfect?

A hexagon can connect with six other hexagons. And those six can connect with even more. So when you put a bunch of ideas or events, people or places on a bunch of hexagons and pass them out to different groups of kids, every conversation and every set of connections will be different, even though the decks of hexagons they received are all the same. The discussions that develop will go in all sorts of directions, with kids asking questions and justifying their connections with evidence. And this works in all the social studies disciplines.

The basic idea? Read more