Both my kids have always had a strong sense of art, of being able to create visually appealing pieces. (The Rowdie effort to the left by the oldest is not one of his best efforts, though it does accurately convey the family pet’s personality.) We constantly had crayons, painting supplies, easels, and all sorts of other artsy things in use around the house.
I wasn’t much help. My art skills have been described as “creative” and “abstract.”
Both kids continue to share their love for the medium and to help me think about art and artists. And today, a quick conversation with a high school US history teacher meandered down a path that focused on ways to integrate art into our instruction.
So it got me thinking a bit.
We often forget how powerful the arts can be in connecting our kids with social studies content and big ideas. Art, in all of its forms, is a great way to create emotion, generate connections, and build relationships. Whether viewing landscapes, portraits, or historical events through the eyes of contemporary artists, students can get a sense of time, of place, of interpretation that would be impossible using other forms of primary sources.
One of the quickest ways to incorporate the arts is to focus on the visual – paintings, drawings, and images. But I often notice it missing from the toolkits of many social studies teachers. And I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe we’re just not aware of the resources available or the kinds of questions to ask. If we’ve never thought too much about using artwork as an instructional tools, it can be hard finding a jumping off point.
So what can it look like when we intentionally integrate visual art into our classrooms? Try some of these ideas and resources: Read more
Most of you know that I’m a sucker for anything VR. I love Google Cardboard and Expeditions. The NYTVR app is an incredible tool for creating emotion and empathy with our kids. And who doesn’t enjoy Youtube channels like Virtually There?
So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that I also can’t get enough of the old timey stereographs and stereoscopes. You know . . . old school VR. Virtual reality before the Googles.
Before Cardboard, there were ViewMasters. And before ViewMasters, there were stereoviews and stereoscopes. The process was basically the same – two photographs of the same scene were taken from two slightly different perspectives and then mounted side by side on a card. The photos would appear three-dimensional when used with the stereoscope viewing device.
And the effect on people was the same then as it is today when your kids are using Google Street View to hike around the Pyramids.
In 1859, Oliver Wendell Holmes described the impact: Read more
I spent yesterday in Topeka, working with KSDE social studies guru Don Gifford and a few others such as @MsKoriGreen and @NHTOYMc to develop the next state assessment. Still in alpha version with beta testing in 2018-2019 but lots of fun talking about what it should look like.
It’s gonna be very cool btw – student focused, locally measured, aligned to historical thinking / literacy skills, and problem based. Look for an update on latest test goodness soon.
So we were all over the place in our conversation. Part of our discussion centered on ways to integrate all of the social studies into the work students will be doing. Including geography. So my mind went to maps. Really cool historical maps. And what it might look like when we use really cool historical maps with kids. So I got a bit sidetracked and did a quick interwebs search for really cool historical maps.
Piece of advice. Don’t do this unless you’ve got more than a few minutes to kill. Cause you will end up in a rabbit hole of geography map goodness. Plus I saved you the trouble.
During my poking around, I ran across the Library of Congress Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps collection. It’s got all the cool historical mapness you’ll need today. Read more
I’ve spent part of the last five weeks learning together with teachers from around the country as part of a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project. Led by folks at Waynesburg University, the focus is on using Library resources in effective ways. It’s been fun hearing from others about how they search for resources, share strategies, and integrate primary sources into the classroom.
On Tuesday, we spent time discussing some of the most effective integration ideas. The Waynesburg TPS office has posted ten of their favorites online, calling them Primary Source Starter Activities. Read more
I flew into Washington yesterday afternoon and had a few hours to kill before the Nerdfest kicked off and so had the chance to visit a couple of the DC museums – I spent a few hours at the International Spy Museum and a couple of hours at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Never been to the Spy Museum, a little cheesy but still interesting. (To give you an idea, if you’ve never had the chance, it has a whole floor dedicated just to James Bond villians.)
The National Portrait Gallery? So cool. Seriously. Three huge floors of . . . well, mostly portraits. But other artwork and photographs and famous people and Civil War images and basically America from start to the present through the eyes of artists. (To give you an idea, the famous painting of Alexander Hamilton is. Right. Over. There.)
I’ve been before to the NPG before and stood there looking at all of this history, thinking to myself
How can social studies teachers use this?
Thanks to the last session of Day One and Briana White, now I know. As the manager of Teacher Programs at the National Portrait Gallery, Briana knows how social studies teachers can use all of that history.
She started by sharing the mission of the NPG: Read more
Yesterday I spent a few minutes on a quick rant blaming laptops and mobile devices for being the reason for the terrible KC Royals pitching, destroying the rainforest, causing the downfall of the Roman Empire, and ruining your students’ educational experience.
Okay. Mostly just the student educational experience thing.
A brief recap. Research is suggesting that when college students use technology to capture lecture notes, both short and long term learning declines when compared to students who captured lecture notes using the old fashioned paper and pencil method. Tech tools seem to encourage verbatim note-taking that focuses on capturing every word rather than on capturing only information that is important – on copy and pasting rather than evaluating and summarizing. Paper and pencil force the student to make decisions about what’s important and then to transform that information into a personal version of the lecture or video.
It’s this personalizing feature of paper and pencil that improves retention and learning.
And, yes, it’s college kids not K-12. And, no, you don’t lecture all of the time. But I’m gonna suggest that the experiences of middle and high school students would not be that much different from the college kids cited in the research.
So using tech to take notes is bad. Now what? Read more