Skip to content

Posts from the ‘primary sources’ Category

Discussion strategies so good, your kids won’t be able to shut up (And a few that even work long-distance. Cause . . . coronavirus.)

I can’t find it now but I ran across some research a year or so ago that suggested that 70-80% of all conversations in K-12 classrooms is teacher to student. As in . . . we can’t stop talking long enough to let our kids get a word in edgewise.

Since I can’t find the research, I’m not going to include it in this quick post on ways to encourage student conversation and discussion. If I had found it, I would say that teachers talk too much and that we need to find more ways to support student to student and student to teacher and student to content conversations. But I haven’t be able to find that research so I wouldn’t think of suggesting that probably 70% of the time, we talk too much. 70-80%. Can you believe it? It must be hard as a student to sit through a whole class period when the teacher is really the only one who gets to talk and who is the only one who gets to explore the primary sources and to solve the problem that they started the class with and then the bell rings.

So. What can we do to increase student conversation and encourage discussion? There are a few ideas out there. Read more

Becoming US is latest from Smithsonian. And it’s a no-brainer. (Seriously. Go there now.)

I got the chance to attend and present at the very awesome Minnesota Council for the Social Studies conference this weekend. (Thanks @jessellison!) Spending time with hundreds of other social studies teachers is always a good thing. I always walk away smarter.

But some days you don’t just walk away smarter . . . you walk away SMARTER. Today was one of those days. And I know that I just posted something a few days ago about the new cool Smithsonian Open Access tool. But this afternoon, Orlando Serrano from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History highlighted a new website from NMAH that really blew me away. And I gotta share. Read more

Open Access just made me love Smithsonian more

You all know how much I love the Smithsonian. Between their 19 brick and mortar museums, the amazing Learning Lab, the History Explorer, and their handy digital resources, it can be difficult deciding where to start.

And the decision just got a bit more difficult. The Smith just released a new site called Open Access  focused sharing almost three million still images, text, sound recordings, research datasets, 3D models, and collection data. It gives you free and easy access to 2D and 3D images from all 19 Smithsonian museums, its nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo, all in the public domain. Use however you want for whatever you want as mush as you want.

All perfect for teacher lesson plan creation and student research.

I especially love the 3D objects and images of artifacts. With Smithsonian Open Access, they’re  increasing our ability to use millions of digital assets all carrying what’s called a CC0 designation. This means the Smithsonian dedicates the digital asset into the public domain, meaning the collection is free of copyright restrictions and you can use it for any purpose, free of charge, without further permission from the Smithsonian. How cool is that? Read more

History at the movies: The 20 best films of the decade and how to use them

There’s nothing like watching a movie in a big screen theater – the kind that bans small children and has heated reclining seats –  holding a mega-tub of popcorn with a side of nacho cheese and a Diet Pepsi.

(You mean you don’t dip individual pieces of popcorn into nacho cheese while watching movies? While then . . . you’re welcome.)

And it’s even better when the movie is history related.

I’ve written about movies before. Because I like movies. I’m also convinced, when used appropriately, that they’re great teaching and learning tools. And a recent Smithsonian article highlighting their choices for best history movies of the last ten years got me thinking. So now I’m curious . . . what were the best movies of the last decade? Maybe more important, how can we use them as part of our instruction?

Read more

Fave Posts of 2019: “Somebody Wanted But So” makes your kids smarter

Most of you have probably settled deep into holiday break mode. Getting up a little bit later than normal. Watching football. Eating too much. Catching up on your reading. Trying to decide if The Mandalorian is worth your time. Enjoying family and friends. Not really thinking about the back to school schedule that cranks up in January.

But if you need a break from all of the free time, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-live five of the most popular History Tech posts from 2019. Enjoy the reruns!

I’ve been spending a ton of time this summer working with groups around the country, helping facilitate conversations around reading and writing in the social studies.

It’s always a good day when I get the chance to sit with social studies teachers, sharing ideas and best practice, talking about what works and what doesn’t. And the cool thing is that I always walk away smarter because teachers are super cool about sharing their favorite web site or tool or handy strategy.

This week was no different. I learned about a simple but powerful summarizing strategy called Somebody Wanted But So.

Summarizing is a skill that I think we sometimes take for granted. We ask our kids to read or watch something and expect them to just be able to remember the content and apply it later during other learning activities. We can easily get caught up in the Curse of Knowledge, assuming that because we know how to summarize and organize information, everyone does too.

But our students often need scaffolding tools to help Read more

My first social studies superhero and Teaching What Really Happened.

I’ve always had social studies heroes.

The people who made and continue to make National Geographic magazine map inserts. My 7th grade geography teacher. Garden City High School’s Mr. Tomayko. James Clavell and Stephen Ambrose. Sam Wineburg.

But my first real social studies hero . . . the first person who I consciously recognized as someone impacting my career as a social studies teacher?

James Loewen. As in, the author of:

  • Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
  • Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of Racism
  • Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong
  • And his latest, Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History

Years after first reading Lies My Teacher Told Me, I’m not even sure now how and where I ran across the book. But for someone who had grown up in western Kansas and Read more