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Posts from the ‘lesson plans’ Category

You need to be using the Smithsonian History Explorer. Seriously.

I thought I knew the Smithsonian History Explorer. I’ve been using it and recommending it for years. But I was wrong. I don’t know the Smithsonian History Explorer.

Not like I should know it. Cause they’ve changed and updated it.

So if you teach US history (or even world), you seriously need to head over and do some poking around. The staff from the Smithsonian  Museum of American History has added so many new resources, lessons, activities, and themes, I guarantee you’ll walk away with all sorts of stuff you can incorporate into your instruction tomorrow.

Start by using the Read more

History shouldn’t be boring. Or leave out stuff. Resources for your Indigenous Peoples’ Day

A year or so ago, I sat with a group of upper elementary teachers and asked them to read an article titled How Do We Teach With Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing? Published by Education Week, the article highlights the difficulty in telling a complete story when Native American voices are 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 once called “reading the silences.” We need to be more intentional about finding and using sources that fill in those silences, that let kids listen to the stories that are often untold and left out. 

Finding these missing voices is important for a lot of reasons. But one particular quote in the EdWeek article stood out for me:

The nice little progressive American story is boring. Once students realize it’s complicated, it’s interesting.

We want our kids to go beyond just hearing and memorizing the story. When students get the chance to hear the nuance and connections and people and interactions and relationships and context and motivations and emotion and similarities to contemporary issues, you don’t have to work very hard to keep them engaged.

No one likes a boring story. No one sits through a crappy movie on Netflix. No one finishes a book with poorly written and unimaginative characters.

So why should a student have to sit through a tedious and dull history class that tells a story without subtlety or interesting individuals? Read more

History Mysteries for the littles: Inquiry resources and materials for your elementary classroom

Well, it’s been a while.

Between some unplanned family obligations and a variety of work related stuff, History Tech got pushed off the front burner, then the back burner, and eventually ended up somewhere into one of those cabinets where you store Tupperware bowls that are missing a lid.

This week we’re crawling out of the cabinet and onto the back burner at least. But . . . we missed sharing start of school resources. Missed National Women’s Suffrage Month. Missed the kickoff of the very awesome Kansas state social studies virtual PD series that is replacing the equally awesome but Covid-19 canceled F2F state conference. Missed the kickoff of the election. Missed a bunch of stuff.

So we’re gonna start small today. Just a quick website recommendation designed especially for K-5 teachers who are looking for resources and ideas for helping their kids understand historical inquiry. Read more

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

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