A big part of what I do every week involves spending time with teachers, especially social studies teachers, leading and having conversations around best practice, instruction, and assessment. And it’s almost always the best part of the week.
Think about it. I get the chance to sit and nerd out with other social studies people talking about our favorite history stuff. I know. It’s awesome.
A lot of our recent conversations have focused on the soon to be released Kansas state social studies assessment. At its most basic level, the assessment will ask kids to solve a problem using evidence and communicate the solution. This assumes, obviously, that the kid will have acquired some historical and critical thinking skills somewhere along the way.
And the more I get the chance to work with our current standards and the planned assessment, the more I realize that we need to do more than just train students to start thinking in certain ways. We also need to train them to stop thinking in other ways. We want them to be able to source and contextualize evidence. We want them to read and write effectively. These are useful skills.
But there are also ways of thinking that can slow that process down and even grow into habits that can lead to ineffective (and perhaps dangerous) citizens.
I recently ran across an article on my Flipboard feed that specifically addresses these ineffective and potentially dangerous habits. Posted by Lee Watanabe-Crockett over at the Global Digital Citizen, the article highlights both problems and solutions. You’ll want to head over there to get the full meal deal but because Lee focuses more on generalities than things specific to social studies and history, I’ve given you just a little taste below: Read more
Let’s be clear from the get go.
It happened. We have hundreds of thousands, millions, of primary sources. We have photos. Government documents. Train timetables. Movies. We’ve got oral histories. Diaries. Letters. Court transcripts. There are prison confessions. Newspapers. Lists of stolen property. Sacks of hair. Piles of shoes. Boxes of wedding rings. And many of the actual camps, barbed wire, gas chambers, and crematoria still exist.
So let’s be clear.
The Holocaust happened. Over six million European Jews were murdered between 1933 and 1945. More than six million others deemed undesirable were also murdered by the government and party led by Adolf Hitler.
So, please, do not plan an historical thinking activity that asks your kids: Read more
I’m trying to crawl my way out of an Interwebs rabbit hole this afternoon. I tumbled in pretty deep while researching an upcoming presentation on teaching controversial topics in the classroom.
And it’s impossible at this point to try and reconstruct the paths I’ve gone down. But basic in a nutshell . . . I got distracted by the huge number of fiction and non-fiction resources that started turning up that seemed perfect for supporting instructional designs focused on conversations on race, immigration, or gender.
So the rabbit hole was not completely unrelated. It’s all still stuff connected to my original topic – though somehow I did end up landing on the FiveThirtyEight polling page and the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium Through My Eyes YouTube video.
I also ran across a few belief statements from New York’s Bank Street College of Education that align perfectly with why teaching controversial issues is so important.
What potentialities in human beings – children, teachers, and ourselves – do we want to see develop?
- . . . gentleness combined with justice in passing judgments on other human beings.
- The courage to work, unafraid and efficiently, in a world of new needs, new problems, and new ideas.
How cool is that? As a big believer in the power of books to connect emotion and content, I love how these statements support the power of fiction and non-fiction in the social studies.
So I figured that I might as well share some of what I found, starting with a few of the books I ran across and then a list of lists. A quick warning, allow yourself some time for browsing – you may be here a while: Read more
A few days ago, I bragged on one of the latest Library of Congress interactive tools titled CaseMaker. Part of the Teaching with Primary Sources project, CaseMaker joined the three earlier tools that rolled out last year.
But wait. There’s more. Called DBQuest and developed by the awesome people over at iCivics, this fifth tool helps you teach history and civics through the use of primary-based documents and evidence-based learning. The multi-platform app teaches students how to make sense of evidence, contextualize information, and make and support claims using evidence-based arguments.
In DBQuest, students are provided with Read more