Sure. There are probably some of you bike riding savants who had no need for them. You just hopped on and started riding, jumping ramps, and weaving through traffic – no problem.
But most of us needed them to get started.
They let us get on our itty bitty bikes and tootle around town like we knew what we were doing. We could do basic stuff like steering around the dog and brake at the corner. But doing all of that while keeping our balance? Not yet.
Writing argumentative essays and making claims using evidence is a lot like that. You’ve got some kids that can jump on and just take off, no problem.
But most of your kids are going to need a little help. Especially elementary and middle school. And there are lots of things you can do to help them keep their balance while doing that.
But I’m really starting to like the idea of something called Structure Strips. I ran across them a few years ago while I was working with some elementary ELA teachers. They were using them to help students create descriptive paragraphs. A little more research highlighted how others were also using Structure Strips in a variety of ways, including in social studies.
And as I’m working with Kansas teachers to prep for next year’s state social studies assessment, these just seem to make more and more sense.
A Structure Strip is a simple but powerful scaffolding tool that can help kids focus on organizing their thinking and written responses to prompts. Kinda like training wheels.
I’m spending a lot of time recently around the soon to be required Kansas state assessment.
A lot of those conversations has focused on ways to prepare our kids for the assessment. Bottom line? Have kids practice critical and historical thinking skills. Done.
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 a few 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, I’m starting to 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 – I’m looking at you, January 6) citizens.
I recently ran across an older 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 the problems and their 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:
Dan Krutka and I got to know each other several years ago when he was teaching and working at Wichita State. Dan was one of the original #sschat folks and did a ton for social studies ed here in Kansas. He’s since moved to Texas but continues to be a force in the social studies education and edtech world.
A couple of months ago, we started thinking about doing a series of livestreams. And we figured, why not? We’d get smarter together, maybe a few other people might get smarter, and it gave us both an excuse to spend some time talking about social studies. Cause who doesn’t love talking about social studies? So we sketched out a quick plan that let us hang out once a month, talking about, well . . . social studies tech related stuff.
Dan set up some quick StreamYard / YouTube connections and we streamed a couple of test runs. And last week, we rolled out an actual episode on what we hope will be a regular schedule – the first Monday of the month.
The March episode started with what turned out to be an extended conversation around a Top Ten tech list that Dan had created back in 2017. Dan was curious if any tools that made his list were still usable. We decided yes and no.
- We’re upset about Google Expeditions
- We love Smithsonian Learning Lab
- Docsteach is still awesome
- Chronicling America has been updated
We eventually got to a discussion about the power of Hexagonal Thinking and a few tech tools that can help you pull it off.
Catch the latest episode below and save the date to stop by April 5 on Dan’s channel: Read more
It’s cold. Seriously cold. So even if your building wasn’t already doing the COVID remote dance, the cold and snow probably chased your kids out of the building for at least a few days.
And connecting with your students is always difficult, current conditions are making it even harder.
Loom, a free, ready to use screencast recording tool, can help.
Simple to use. Simple to share. There’s a free version for teachers and kids. And it works great for both face to face classrooms and remote learning environments.
If you’re already using Loom, you may be in the wrong place. This post is for Loom newbies and how we can use the tool as part of effective social studies instruction. So maybe take a few minutes to browse through a list of History Tech posts highlighting historical thinking resources and strategies. (But you’re not gonna hurt my feelings if you skip past the quick Loom introduction and scroll down for the social studies examples.)
So what’s a screencast recording tool? Basically it’s a button you push that records your screen while at the same time recording your face and voice, saving them all together in a downloadable and shareable video format. And it does all of that in a matter of seconds.
Need a quick example? Read more
Let’s be honest.
Very few of us are poets. Very few of us probably even read a lot of poetry.
That might change after this morning’s recitation by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Her poem titled “The Hill We Climb” resonated with a variety of themes from American history.
And hope. Read more
I was busy online with a small group of elementary social studies teachers yesterday afternoon when my phone started buzzing. I ignored it for a bit but after a teacher in the group sent me a private message in my Zoom window, my attention shifted. And then, of course, was distracted until late last night and into this morning.
Your role as a social studies teachers has never been more important. Or more difficult.
I was able to take part in a special #sschat session last night and walked away amazed at the power of a social studies PLN. The topic?
“How do I teach tomorrow?”
So many incredible teachers and so many amazing conversations. Blew. Me. Away. There was so much conversation going on, I’m heading back to the chat archive this evening to catch up on all I missed.
(And if you haven’t been part of an #sschat or don’t follow the hashtag, head over to their chat archives and starting getting smarter. Not sure how to do that? Start here.)
One of the amazing things that developed during last night’s chat was the crowdsourced creation of a Google spreadsheet with tons of resources. If you’re looking for ways to talk with with your kids about the events of yesterday and the events that will be taking place over the next few weeks, you need to head over and check out the combined work of hundreds of teachers: Read more