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Posts from the ‘primary sources’ Category

History, Art, and Archives of the House of Representatives (and the Senate)

I’m a member of a semi-active Facebook group that was started several years ago following the final session of the Century of Progress TAH project. The group was an attempt by project participants to stay somewhat connected and supported after three years of working together.

We were able to develop a face-to-face PLC that meets four times a year and the Facebook group continues to act as a sort of digital conversation space. Most of us aren’t super active, simply lurking around and picking up the helpful tidbits posted by the few truly active members of the group.

One of those truly active members is Nathan McAlister, middle school teacher at Royal Valley MS. The 2010 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year, Nathan is one of those seriously gifted individuals, perfectly tuned to be a great middle school social studies teacher. And not only is he a great classroom teacher and GLI Master Teacher, he’s connected to both the state and national Councils for History Education and seems to know everybody in the social studies / history universe.

He’s one of the reasons I lurk on the Facebook. He’s got awesome teaching tips and resources to share. And last week, he did it again.

The History, Art, and Archives of the US House of Representatives.

Who knew? Read more

Tip of the Week: MLK 2017 Resources

Martin Luther King Day is next week and you’ve probably already finalized your lessons. Hopefully you’ve got multiple days built in to widen the discussion to US history, government, and current events. To help with your planning, take advantage of the different resources and ideas below. (Developed in part by the New York Times Learning Network.)

Start with a couple of Teaching Tolerance articles –  Do’s and Don’ts of MLK Day and Going the Extra Mile. Then head over to the LOC. Read more

Breaking the Chains: Augmented Reality Freedom Stories

I don’t think US K-12 kids  ever hear the full story of the Underground Railroad. We read about Harriet Tubman and other brave conductors. Students browse through stories of individuals and families who hid and protected runaway enslaved persons. And somewhere in there is usually a story or two about how enslaved persons were trying to reach Canada.

But we don’t hear about what happened once runaway enslaved persons reached Canada. What was life like there? Were there free men and women of color already living there?

Now we can find out. Read more

It’s not always what you see that bites you in the butt. All in with the Dorsal Fin

The reason why the movie Jaws is so incredibly spooky? Because for most of the film, we never really see the main character. Just the scary music and the occasional dorsal fin. We can’t see what’s under the water but we know something’s there.

Something big and hungry.

History is a little like that. It’s easy to see the surface stuff. People, places, dates. But it’s the stuff that our students don’t see that is usually the biggest and most important. Underlying causes. Past events. Hidden connections. All of these contribute to how things happened and continue to happen.

I recently ran across a handy graphic organizer idea that I think can help kids intentionally think about these hidden, under the surface pieces. The Facing History folks have titled this teaching strategy the Iceberg because it can help students organize and make sense of the different factors that lead to particular events. The strategy is also great for training kids to balance informative and literary texts, for building content knowledge, for generating text-based responses, and supporting the use of evidence.

It’s also great for organizing notes as student learn about a period in history, as a review, or as an assessment tool.

And yes. I get it. An Iceberg is only Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #2: 6 C’s to better document analysis

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


Over the last few years, we’ve seen the instructional strategy pendulum swing over to encouraging more use of evidence by students to solve authentic problems. And there’s tons of stuff out there to help us and students make sense of primary and secondary sources.

You’ve got the Library of Congress primary source analysis worksheets. You’ve got the awesome stuff by Sam Wineburg and Stanford. There’s the DocsTeach site by the National Archives as well as all of their document analysis lessons / worksheets. And lots of things like Historical Thinking Matters and Historical Scene Investigation. Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #4: Blackout Poetry

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


Okay. I know that movies about teachers rarely tell the whole story. You know the ones I’m talking about – movies like:

black-out-poetry logo

  • Stand and Deliver
  • Freedom Writers
  • Dangerous Minds
  • Mr. Holland’s Opus
  • Lean On Me

They rarely show the hours of grading, the phone calls from parents, IEP meetings, kids throwing up on your shoes, music program practice, endless committees, extra duties, coaching – though there does always seem to be some sort of happy ending.

But ya know . . . I still enjoy ’em. My favorite? Read more