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Tip of the Week: Use KidCitizen to engage K-5 kids & build 6-12 activities

So. Much. Learning.

Getting the chance to be part of the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference can be both overwhelming and inspiring. There are so many people to meet, so many new ideas, so many new tools to explore.

I feel smarter just thinking about it.

Two of the things I noticed while I was immersed in the 2017 History Nerdfest? There is a common language and expectation around the idea of historical thinking – that using evidence and primary sources and sourcing and having kids solve problems is a good thing. Second? There is a commitment to using technology as one of the tools for helping kids make sense of the world around them.

It wasn’t always like that. NCSS and its members have come a long way in embracing the power of tech tools as part of social studies instruction and learning. That’s a good thing. A specific example that focuses on historical thinking and technology are the very cool things that the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program is doing with sims and gaming platforms.

One of the coolest? Read more

History Nerdfest 2017: Using National Geographic Geo-Inquiries to empower students

Yes. I know. The 2017 NCSS conference is over. We’ve had turkey and pumpkin pie since then.

But events on the last NCSS day started to run together and I got seriously sidetracked a couple of times chatting with people that I ran into. So today you get the official final History Nerdfest 2017 post. And thanks to National Geographic, one of my favorites.

You know I love maps, right? National Geographic is all about maps. So anything NatGeo does is automatically awesome.

And their new Geo-Inquiry Process is awesome. Geo-Inquries are designed to help students understand how the complex and dynamic human and natural systems interact in order to help them make smart decisions. Using both “a geographic perspective and the Geo-Inquiry Process students begin to connect complex components, see patterns, and make connections that change their communities.”

It’s a five step process:

  • Ask
  • Collect
  • Visualize
  • Create
  • Act

The goal is to create students with an explorer mindset:

  • attitudes of an explorer – curiosity, responsibility, and empowerment
  • skills necessary for exploration – observation, communication, collaboration, and problem solving
  • knowledge areas – Our Changing Planet, The Human Journey, Wildlife, and Wild Places

Think PBL with a geographic perspective and an emphasis on action. The idea aligns well with the NCSS Inquiry Arc and our state standards – focusing on process rather than just content. This seems like the perfect tool for Read more

History Nerdfest 2017: Using SHEG templates to create your own historical thinking lessons

We all love the Stanford History Education Group. Great lessons. Aligned assessments. Perfect balance between process and content. Focus on historical thinking skills. And just this week, a rebranding of the site and the addition of civic literacy tools.

But what happens if you can’t find what you need for your content in their list of 132 US and world history lessons? Go back to the lecture?

Nope. I’ve been preaching for years that we should be using the structure and process of those 132 lessons to create our own. Extra work? Sure. But if you follow the SHEG model, you know that what your kids are going to get is good for them.

But it can be daunting. What are the steps? What should go where? How should I create the questions? What documents to use?

Some of those questions were answered Saturday when Read more

History Nerdfest 2017 Day Three: #sschat unconference conversation made me smarter

If you’re not using Twitter to access the #sschat hashtag throughout the year, I will politely suggest that you need start doing that.

Seriously. And if me being polite doesn’t work, you should do because I said so.

Using Twitter and the #sschat hashtag connects you with hundreds of super smart people who can make you smarter. It also connects you with people who need to know what you know so that they can get smarter. Win win.

And this morning at #ncss17, several of the organizers of #sschat put together a three hour unconference session where people could meet face to face. Many of us only know each other via Twitter and so it’s great putting faces with Twitter handles. The cool thing is that the learning is the same. We asked questions. We shared resources. We brainstormed ideas.

And we all walked away smarter.

The cool thing about #sschat is that Read more

History Nerdfest 2017 Day Three: Google Maps + Newsela = glorious mashup

This morning, I feel old.

As in, that old guy who gets up at 5:30 am, eats a hard boiled egg with black coffee, and wanders around the neighborhood mumbling something about early to bed, early to rise.

Saturday morning at #ncss17 is always a bit slow. And I probably actually am that old grumpy guy but this morning seems especially sparse. It’s ten minutes before the first session and there are four of us here. And no presenter. I need more coffee.

And of course, a couple of Newsela folks show up and it’s an awesome session. Cause . . . it’s maps and Newela.

I love Google My Maps and Newsela. Combining them together just makes sense.

JJ, the Newsela guy in charge this morning, kicked off our conversation by talking about what he called the “edtech ecosystem” that exists in our classrooms. I like that. There are healthy ecosystems and ones that aren’t as healthy. I love this idea.

So . . . Read more

History Nerdfest 2017 Day Two: StoryCorps, emotional feels, and oral history tools

Are you looking for incredibly powerful oral histories? I mean, really super incredible powerful stories? Are you looking for a tool that allows you and your kids to create your own oral histories?

Then you need StoryCorps. You seriously need StroyCorps.

Need an example?

In 1964, Dr. William Lynn Weaver was one of 14 black teens who integrated West High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. At StoryCorps, he spoke about his experiences in the classroom and how difficult it was for him to get a quality education there. Dr. Weaver also integrated the school’s all-white football team, along with other black players, including his older brother, Stanley. Here, he talks about what it was like to play for the West High School Rebels.

We had teams who refused to play us because we had black players. There were always racial comments, uh, banners with the n-word, and, at one point in time, there was even a dummy with a noose around its neck hanging from the goal posts.

I remember we played an all-white school. The game was maybe only in the second quarter. My brother tackled their tight end and broke his collarbone. And when they had to take him off the field with his arm in a sling, that’s when the crowd really got ugly.

We were on the visitors’ sideline and they were coming across the field; so we backed up against the fence. I remember the coach saying, ”Keep your helmet on,” so I was pretty afraid. And then a hand reaches through the fence and grabs my shoulder pads. I look around and it’s my father. And I turned to my brother, I said, “It’s okay; Dad’s here.”

The state police came and escorted us to the buses. The crowd is still chanting and throwing things at the bus and, as the bus drives off, I look back and I see my father standing there and all these angry white people. And I said to my brother, ”How’s Daddy going to get out of here? They might kill him.”

This morning at #ncss17, Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, spoke and shared Read more