This year may be a little tough. My July is scheduled full of days that I get to spend with social studies teachers around the country. But my hopes are high.
Regular History Tech readers already know this – every summer since I finished my first year as a middle school US history teacher, I’ve put together a summer reading list. Several teachers down the hall had taken me into their inner circle and suggested, very strongly, that I needed to do more during the summer months than life guard and paint houses – that growing professionally over the summer was a non-negotiable. This professional growth might include some sort of face to face professional learning opportunity but it definitely included creating a personal reading list.
Best. Advice. Ever. It’s really more than just a reading list – it’s the idea that teachers need to continually work on honing their craft and a summer reading list is a practical way to make that happen. So . . . I picked some books with content. Some with process. Some for fun. And started the fall semester smarter than when I left in the spring. So have been doing it ever sense.
The problem is that I have never, not once, not ever, finished my summer list. And July obligations and an extensive honey-do list makes it unlikely that 2017 is the year I actually cross the finish line.
But I’m still creating the list. Cause . . . you know. It could happen. I could finish. I’m not kidding around this year. Seriously.
There’s no real theme this summer. Just a few books that look interesting and that should make me better at what I do: Read more
During the glory days of the Teaching American History projects, we handed out books like candy. We’d read. Argue. Reflect. Move on to the next. And I’m sure there were some who didn’t enjoy that process as much as I did. I understand that we all learn in different ways but it’s just hard for me to imagine life without books to read and talk about.
Plain and simple truth? You can never have enough books.
Keith Houston in his recent book titled, wait for it . . . The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time, advises readers to Read more
Sarah Tantillo is the author of The Literacy Cookbook: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction. Several years ago, she wrote a useful MiddleWeb post based on her blog The Literacy Cookbook. On the Cookbook, Sarah shares a ton of great ideas about helping students meet the ELA Common Core Standards.
Her original post described a problem she noticed with many of her students:
“One of the things students struggle with the most — and it’s relevant to every grade and subject — is distinguishing between argument and evidence. This problem manifests itself in both reading and writing.
In reading, students often cannot pick topic sentences or thesis arguments out of a lineup; and when writing, they tend to construct paragraphs and essays that lack arguments.”
She went on to describe six steps we can use to move students from “What’s the difference between arguments and evidence?” to “How can I write an effective research paper?”
She outlines six steps that teachers can use to help students create quality, evidence-based arguments. And while the focus is on ELA rather than social studies, the process is one that all of our students need to master: Read more
I spent some some last week with a group sharing strategies around the blended learning concept. It was compelling conversation, I walked away smarter, and had the chance to meet some interesting people.
But one of my biggest walkaways was a strategy that the forum’s facilitator used to jumpstart the discussion.
He called it the Last Word. Others in the group used the term Final Word. No matter what it might be called, I thought it was a perfect fit for strengthen the speaking and listening skills of social studies students. So if you’ve used Last Word, post some comments on changes you’ve made or things you like about it.
New to Last Word? Read on, my friend. Read more
I seriously doubt that anyone will actually read this. It’s the final student contact day for many of you and am pretty sure the last thing you’re thinking about right now is my Tip of the Week.
But I’m going to push this out anyway cause . . . well, it’s my job.
I love the holidays. Turkey. Ham. Chocolate covered coffee beans. And Chex Mix. Lots and lots of Chex Mix. Friends. Family. Christmas lights. It’s all good.
But the best part of the holiday break, of course, is the actual break. The part where I save vacation days and spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s hanging out late and reading. It just seems as if other parts of the year get so busy that there is little time to sit and enjoy a book or two. So much like my summer reading list, I always have a Christmas reading list.
This year? Read more
We’re jumping right into this. Ian Anderson, from Nebraska Wesleyan, is sharing info about his program there in Nebraska. His project is all about improving the reading / writing abilities and historical thinking skills of K-12 students in the state.
The problem? Students are struggling with these skills. So they developed a staff development program to help teachers support these skills. They used the framework from Sam Wineburg and SHEG as the basis of of their rationale and programming.
So their purpose? Training teachers to get kids to do and thinking like historians with the following questions:
- What do historians do?
- Why should we study the past?
- Why do our students not always like to study history or succeed at it?
Ian used the Traxoline example to help us understand that being able to close read and comprehend text is not always the same as disciplinary specific skills. Read more