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Posts from the ‘strategies’ Category

7 virtual resources and a few iCivics distance learning suggestions

(An earlier version highlighted NARA in the title rather than iCivics. Not sure what I was thinking, I corrected it March 27.  Sorry iCivics. You’re doing awesome stuff!)

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The new normal is fast becoming the normal normal. But it’s always nice to hear what others are doing and using.

And I love Jenifer Hitchcock’s suggestions about structuring our normal normal distance learning instruction. It’s part of a handy toolkit that she and other folks over at iCivics have put together. I’ve summarized Jenifer’s list but you need to head over and check it out all of the details as well as their Toolkit.

Further down, I’ve also posted 11 resources that are perfect for your distance learning normal normal. So if you’re already in a normal normal teaching situation, all of this is super useful.

But if you’re still in some sort of traditional face to face setting, skip Jenifer’s tips and bounce down to the resources – still useful for you because, well . . . they’re awesome sauce for any sort of learning environment.

Here’s a quick list of some of Jenifer’s suggestions:  Read more

The New Normal of School: A few suggestions, a few resources, a few tools. You can do this

It’s been less than a week. It doesn’t seem like it. But think back to last week. I was looking forward to watching the Big 12 basketball tournament and already had a tentative NCAA bracket filled out. You were relaxing on your spring break or looking forward to a well-earned break this week.

Today?

Whole different world.

Here in Kansas, the entire school system has shifted from a face to face model of teaching and learning to one that revolves around e-learning. For the rest of the year. And you may not yet be in that sort of long term distance learning environment. Yet. But I think school for the rest of spring 2020 is going to be very different for most of us.

So what can that look like? What tools should you use? Are there tips and tricks that can help? I want to start the conversation and share some ideas and resources that can help in this world of a new normal. And I know you’ve all been buried under a ton of information and emails and free offers and suggestions and to-do lists.

So I’m going to try and keep this short. Today is just enough to get you started – I’ll be updating and adding posts all spring.

First thing? Read more

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

Your students are not like you. Accept it. Teach differently.

I had the chance to chat with a high school history teacher yesterday and as teacher conversations often do, we veered into a discussion around instructional best practices. That discussion then veered off into a more specific conversation about Generation Z kids.

The takeaway for me?

Most of us don’t think enough about how different our students are from us.

I mean, we all want to do what’s best for kids. But I think we filter that desire to do what’s best through a Baby Boomer / Generation Y / Millennial teacher’s lens. That’s a nice way of saying we’re old and maybe don’t realize that we view the world very differently than our students do.

Viewing the world differently is not a bad thing. But failing to recognize that fact can be – especially when we fail to design our instruction to meet the needs of our Gen Z students. Holly Clark, over at the Infused Classroom, put together a handy post along with a powerful infographic that highlights a few characteristics of your Gen Z learners: Read more

You got your regular hexagons. You got your visual hexagons. Both are awesome for making connections.

More than several years ago, I asked my daughter, a fourth grader at the time, to work her way through the very cool Plimoth Plantation’s You Are the Historian simulation. It’s a wonderful online tool that asks kids to answer a very simple question – what really happened at the first Thanksgiving. Using evidence and video clips from experts, elementary students learn to make a claim and create a final product using evidence that supports their answer.

And I wanted a product review from a true end user. Used to these sort of requests from her history nerd father, Erin plunged in. During our in-depth debrief over milk and cookies, I asked her a variety of questions about her experience. Much of the conversation is now forgotten but I still remember what she said when I asked her to tell me one thing that she would share with her teacher the next day.

The past is what happened. And history is what we say happened.

I couldn’t have been prouder.

Of course, we still made her wade through the rest of her K-12 experience but doesn’t Erin’s comment pretty much sum up the whole point of teaching social studies? Yes, there was a whole ton of foundational knowledge that she continued to gather. There were specific sorts of skills she continued to perfect. But the core of what we want students like Erin to walk away with is embedded in the simple idea that history is about interpretation and analysis.

About balancing bias and perspective, about collective and individual memory, about investigation and rethinking and keeping an open mind. About making sense of evidence and making a claim using that evidence.

Traditional social studies and history instruction – instruction that focuses on helping kids find the “correct answers” through the use of traditional lecture / take note / fill in the blank / memorize the content is not just poor instruction. It also denies students the opportunity to learn the valuable skills of balancing multiple perspectives and accepting the absence of a single “history” and the co-existence of multiple “histories.”

We too often get caught up in the attempt to “cover” our content. To get to the end of the chapter. To the end of the textbook. And in doing so, we end up pushing process and thinking skills offstage rather than allowing them to share the spotlight with content. We need to go beyond basic foundational knowledge and create a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty in how things are going to work out.

One suggestion?

If our students really are going to learn and master historical thinking skills, it’s essential that they experience for themselves how historians reach their conclusions. (See Sam Wineburg and his Reading Like a Historian, his SHEG website, and . . . well, just about anything that Sam has ever written.)

But what can that look like? 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