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Posts from the ‘social studies’ Category

#WHA2016 and creativity in the K-20 social studies classroom

Okay. I’m trying to not let my history fanboy nerdiness bubble over too much. I’m sitting in on a discussion at the Western History Association conference and Richard White is one of the panelists.

Yes. There are others on the panel. Brian Collier (Notre Dame University), Linda Sargent Wood (Northern Arizona University), Jean O’Brien (University of Minnesota), Darla Mallein (Emporia State University), Tom Hoogland (Minnesota National History Day), and Brendan Bell (Cristo Rey High School). All wonderful people.

But seriously? Richard White? It’s a bit like my daughter heading to ComicCon and getting the chance to sit next to the cast of Captain America: Winter Soldier. Just so cool.

And once I got over the “that’s actually Richard White right there” phase, I was able to jot down a few things from the conversation. The panel discussed a variety of topics and started by talking about the most important innovation in teaching history.

Several panelists highlighted the impact Read more

Tip of the Week: Seven Social Studies Strategies for Back to School

Yup. It’s that time of year already. The annual Back to School Ideas in a Social Studies Classroom post. And I know some are already back in the classroom but most of you crank up this week or next.

So. Here ya go.

Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Add your own ideas in the comments.

What not to do

Before we get going with what we know works, it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t. Read more

Teaching in the time of Trump

Several days ago, I wrote a quick post highlighting seven ways to survive a divisive election while making your students smarter. That post generated an interesting conversation – many teachers began asking similar kinds of questions. Specifically . . . how can we teach diversity and tolerance when much of the campaign rhetoric directly challenges these very American values while at the same time maintaining a neutral political stance?

A recent article in the National Council for the Social Studies journal Social Education can help us address this concern. Titled Teaching in the Time of Trump by Benjamin Justice and Jason Stanley, the NCSS article provides context, rationale, and specific suggestions for focusing on American democratic values and process.

The article is an incredibly useful teaching tool but it also provides a powerful reminder of our fundamental task. Head over to get the full text but I’ve pasted some snippets below to provide some flavor of what Justice and Stanley have to say.

Teaching in the time of Trump raises a fundamental pedagogical question: is it permissible for a teacher to adopt a non-neutral political stance in the classroom, either through explicitly addressing the problems with Trump’s rhetoric or, conversely, by remaining silent in the face of it? How can teachers balance the much cherished value of political impartiality (protecting the students’ freedom of expression and autonomous political development) against the much cherished American values threatened by Trumpish demagoguery?

Why should we even worry about this? Read more

Tip of the Week: Best 10 Social Studies Stuffs of 2015

Over the holiday break, it’s a yearly tradition in my family to watch the movies Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Home Alone. With hot cocoa. While yelling out our favorite lines of dialogue.

“Stuffs” is a bit like that.

It’s become a History Tech tradition. For the last few years, I’ve been listing my personal Top Ten Social Studies Stuffs of the Year.

Yeah. I know. Not an actual word. Though I happen to think it should be. Cause I use the word stuff a lot.

The idea started out with a desire to list my ten favorite books of the year but I quickly realized that there were a lot of other things – websites, apps, movies – that I really liked as well.

So . . . stuffs. The plural of stuff.

I suppose you can call them whatever you want. But here, in no particular order, are the top ten things that I found useful, interesting, or just fun this past year.

Feel free to add your own stuff in the comments. Read more

Nerdfest 2015 Day Three: Advocating for the Social Studies

It’s late in the day on Saturday and it’s a battle between Bourbon Street and conference sessions. Right now, it’s looking like Bourbon Street is winning. Not a lot of people hanging around. So . . . I’m patting myself on the back just a little bit. Especially since I’m in a session focusing on the very important but potentially not-very exciting topic of social studies advocacy.

I want to learn more about how to do this. I think we all need to learn more about this. Things seem to be swinging back to a place where social studies gets a place on the podium. But there is still lots of work we can do to help parents, the media, and politicians better understand our mission and goals.

The questions I have are pretty simple:

  • What works best at the local and state levels?
  • What resources are available?

And we’ve got an esteemed panel this afternoon to help me figure out the answers:

  • Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education
  • Catriona Macdonald, Linchpin Strategies
  • Christopher Caltabiano, Council for Economic Education
  • Brenda Barr, National Geographic Society
  • Lee White, National Coalition for History
  • Ted McConnell, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools

So it’s a lock that I’ll walk away smarter. Read more

Social Studies Nerdfest 2015 Day One: Literacy, Technology, & the Inquiry Arc

In my world, there is the winter holiday season. The first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament. Whenever my kids come home to visit. College football bowl season. The Fourth of July. Opening night of any James Bond movie.

You know. Those special times of the year when the day just isn’t long enough to fit in all the fun.

The cool thing? Today starts another of those annual periods that fit the category of best times of the year. Today is Day One of Social Studies Nerdfest 2015. Yup. Today starts four days of geeking out with thousands of other social studies people at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference. This year, we’re hanging out downtown New Orleans.

Seriously. How cool is that? It really needs to be an official national holiday.

The actual NCSS conference kicks off tomorrow. Today I get Read more