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Posts from the ‘lesson plans’ Category

Art. So much more than something hanging on a wall.

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 intentional integrate visual art into our classrooms? Try some of these ideas and resources: Read more

Hamilton, music, and the power of emotion to engage your learners

Almost exactly three years ago, away back in 2015, I wrote a short post about the Hamilton musical. My kids have a standing order that requires them to keep me updated with the latest pop culture from the youths. And my daughter was already in love with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the way he incorporated music and dance to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton.

While I hadn’t seen the show, I was able to read enough, see enough, and hear enough to be convinced about the power of the story. And was convinced that using the story and music would be a great way to help kids better understand the broader story of the Revolution and America’s founding fathers.

Last Friday, while in Chicago for the #ncss18 conference, I finally had the chance to actually see Hamilton in person.

Wow. Just. Wow.

I am now even more convinced about how this secondary source re-telling of the period of the late 1700s can help connect our kids to both past and present. And while Hamilton is a particularly spectacular example of the power of music and emotion to engage the learner, it’s not the only way we can use music in the classroom. So this morning, I’m re-posting another quick set of resources that I put together a year ago that can help you begin to think about what the integration of music might look like.

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I am not Read more

History Nerdfest 2018: Social Studies Inquiry Made Real. Teachers as Designers

It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.

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It’s something we all struggle with.

What does instructional design look like when we combine content knowledge with historical thinking skill. The answer?

The Inquiry Design Model.

It’s a great way to integrate the NCSS Inquiry Arc into actual practice. And like the rest of you, those of us in Kansas have been wrestling with this question since 2013. We created new state standards that focus on finding a balance between content and process. It’s a great idea but what does it actually look like in practice? Teachers want and need specifics about creating learning activities that encourage historical thinking skills in their students.

Created by S.G. Grant, John Lee, and Kathy Swan, the IDM becomes part of the answer by providing a structure for integrating content and process together. Based on the Inquiry Arc of the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework, IDM helps build a connection between the head and the heart of our students while also training them to think historically.

The head has always been part of social studies but if we’re going to get under their skins, we have to connect with their hearts too. Most teachers know their content. But many struggle with helping kids care about the content

Think of a great inquiry activity created using the IDM method as “bigger than a lesson but smaller than a unit.”

What are the different parts of an IDM? Read more