We’ve chatted before about ways to introduce, talk about, and integrate controversial topics on our classrooms. Today I’m flashing back to a conversation I had with Charles Vaughan, a high school teacher from South Carolina. Ten months ago, he shared some of his experiences and thoughts on incorporating political topics into his instruction.
Some of what he referenced seems relevant this week as the congressional impeachment inquiry continues to ramp up. Quoting from an article in an Atlantic titled The Case for Contentious Classrooms, Charles highlighted the importance of what he calls a political classroom:
“Schools teach many things. For the most part, though, they have not not taught students how to engage in reasoned, informed debates across society’s myriad differences.”
He also shared some thoughts based on a book titled The Political Classroom by Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy. During an interview titled Politics in the Classroom. How Much is Too Much? on NPR, McAvoy asks: Read more
For a while now, I’ve hung around over at RealClearPolitics. For a poly sci junkie, it’s a great place to spend a few minutes or a hundred, digging into polls, commentary, and election gossip. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that realized that the RealClear network of sites also has a History version.
At RealClearHistory, you get Read more
I got the chance over the last few days to spend time with tons of social studies gurus and learn tons of new stuff at the National Council for History Education conference in Washington DC. Thanks to Dr. Richard Satchwell and Judy Bee at Illinois State University and all the folks at the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project for making the trip possible.
Part of our TPS time together was spent with developers of the five Library of Congress interactive civic education apps they’ve created. Very cool stuff that you can find at the LOC. All five are super handy for helping kids make sense of primary sources and for training students to engage as informed citizens. It was great sitting with the developers and learning more about how to use the apps with kids.
But I am just as excited about something , Chief Education Officer at iCivics, threw out at the end of her formal presentation about their DBQuest app:
We’re releasing a new iCivics game tomorrow called Race to Ratify.
She couldn’t really share a ton about it but we got the chance to get a quick taste of the game. And when she said “tomorrow,” she meant last Friday. So it’s been officially out in the wild for a few days. I’ve played with it a bit since then and it’s pretty much like all iCivics content.
Awesome. Read more
I like bacon.
Bacon cheeseburgers. Eggs and bacon. BLTs. Chocolate covered bacon. Maple and bacon doughnuts. Bacon and onion gravy. Bacon topped baked potatoes. Bacon wrapped Little Smokies. Bacon wrapped anything.
I’m probably not the only one. And I get it . . . some choose not to eat bacon for religious or health reasons. (And have much stronger will power than I do.)
My point? Pretty much everything is better with bacon.
So what’s the bacon of social studies? That one thing that goes better with everything and is so delicious that you really need to find a way to integrate it into your classroom? The answer is simple. Read more
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.
If there’s a theme running through my choose of session this week, this would be it. How can we encourage and support conversations around controversial topics? How can we tie current events to broader topics and past events without . . . you know, setting stuff on fire and throwing desks?
First session of the day is a focus on that issue. The Newseum and the Religious Freedom Center are part of the larger Freedom Forum Institute. The Institute concentrates on the first five constitutional Amendments and this morning, Ben and Jessi are walking us through how we can protect the Amendments through civil conversations.
And full transparency . . . I’m a Newseum fanboy. Their @NewseumEd stuff is phenomenal. So start there and then come back here.
Informed and respectful are the buzzwords for this morning – with a specific focus on religious freedom and the First Amendment. A problem that Jessi points out is that most students have no idea of what the First Amendment protects and what rights it ensures.
Ben points out the two parts of the Amendment’s free exercise and free establishment clauses. Public school teachers are required, by the establishment clause, to remain neutral around the topic of religion. Private school teachers are governed by the free exercise clause. But it still all comes down to teaching religion or teaching about religion. There’s a difference. What is allowed?
So . . . how can we facilitate civil discourse around religion (and other topics)? Read more
I love the National Council for the Social Studies national conference. Who doesn’t? Seriously. Thousands of social studies nerds all in one place? Talking about best practice, resources, tech tools, sharing ideas, getting smarter?
What’s not to like?
And it kicks off today. We’re all in Chicago for the next four days and it’s awesome.I can sit down and immediately get sucked into a conversation about the best way to use maps as a hook activity or how to use the latest Library of Congress mobile app or where I can find the best primary sources for AP World History. And that’s considered normal behavior.
These are my people.
Thursday is really just a warm-up day. The official NCSS conference jumps off tomorrow. Today is tours, pre-cons, half day workshops, and the National Social Studies Supervisors Association conference. I get the chance to spend all day with NSSSA folks learning more about working specifically with teachers.
But like every year at NCSS, I’ll try to live post most of the sessions I’m in. So there’s gonna be typos and weird grammar and strange paragraphs. I’ll try to fix them later. But feel free to follow along.
And right out of the gate, Read more