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12 tips and tricks for using music in the social studies classroom

I am not musically inclined. I like music. I listen to music. Love the Spotify. But I don’t play an instrument and karaoke only in large groups. Maybe I just never had the right training but it’s hard to imagine any music teacher being very successful in coaxing out my inner Bob Dylan.

Which is why it’s not easy for me to think about using music as an important piece of social studies instruction. You might be the same way – integrating music and song lyrics into your classroom just isn’t the first or second thing that comes to mind when you’re designing lessons and units.

But it should be.

I was reminded last night how powerful music can be and how we can use it to help kids connect with our content during the weekly #sschat. Focused on the intersection of music and social studies, the chat provided a wide variety of useful ideas and resources.

Led by Chris Hitchcock and the folks at Get Sounds Around, a bunch of us sat around and shared tips and tools. You can get the full transcript over at sschat but here’s a few of the tidbits I gathered: Read more

Tip of the Week: The perfect mashup – PSSAs and Evidence Analysis Window Frames

I’ve spent part of the last five weeks learning together with teachers from around the country as part of a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project. Led by folks at Waynesburg University, the focus is on using Library resources in effective ways. It’s been fun hearing from others about how they search for resources, share strategies, and integrate primary sources into the classroom.

On Tuesday, we spent time discussing some of the most effective integration ideas. The Waynesburg TPS office has posted ten of their favorites online, calling them Primary Source Starter Activities. Read more

21st century social studies: tips, tools, and tricks at #maceks17

It’s day one of #maceks17 and it’s already awesome. Meeting old friends and making new ones. I get the chance to do a couple of things today – help man the ESSDACK booth and do an afternoon session. Excited about both. Hanging out at the table gives me the chance to meet lots of different teachers and hear all sorts of stories about what is working in classrooms.

And spending time with social studies teachers talking about technology?  That’s the sweet spot.

But if you’re reading this, chances are you missed MACE and the afternoon session. I get that. Not everybody gets the chance to hangout with the #maceks17 folks. So if you’re curious about the 21st Century Social Studies: Tip, Tools, & Tricks preso, here’s quick summary of what we talked about: Read more

Live blog #mcss17: Inspiring Local Learners in a Global Community

Two words that you really don’t want to hear in the same sentence:

            Minnesota / February

As in, “Hey. I can’t wait to travel to Minnesota in the middle of February.”

But when the two involve the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies annual conference, I’ll risk it. Lots of great people in Minnesota doing some awesome things in the social studies and I am honored to be a part of it. (My session on 3D History is later this afternoon – I’ll post a few details from that preso later this evening.)

I’ll be live blogging throughout the day on some of the cool stuff I’m learning. So be sure to refresh.

Opening Keynote
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Secretary Simon highlighted the importance of what social studies teachers do every day by sharing examples of how well Minnesota participates in elections

 We are voters. We work hard at building civic engagement.

The state is the number one state in voter turnout nine of the last 10 elections because of “laws and culture.” He highlighted the efforts that Minnesota makes to ensure that voter registration is as easy as possible with same day and online voter registration. Simon also discussed how early and absentee voting is encouraged.

The state also works hard to encourage kids to vote. I like how Simon talked about how getting younger kids to participate takes more than just using idealistic arguments such as “it’s good for the country” and “it’s your patriotic duty.” Simon suggests that we need to also encourage younger voters to participate also based on self interest and “to be part of something.” That kids need to be encouraged to vote and participate because it will make their lives, and the lives of people they know, better. So Minnesota uses a massive outreach program into the school system to support this sort of civic engagement.

He shared the saying on a tee shirt:  “Choosing not to vote isn’t a sign of rebellion, it’s a sign of surrender.” They work very hard to help kids understand that participating is the smarter choice.

And with the highest rate of voter turnout anywhere in the US, Read more

75th Anniversary: Executive Order 9066

You all know photographer Dorothea Lange. If not Dorothea herself, you’ll recognize her famous candid photos taken during the 1930s highlighting the struggles of Americans suffering during the Great Depression. Her iconic Migrant Mother and the series of photos around that image depict the desperation many felt during the period.

Later in 1942, she was hired by the US government to capture images of the relocation of Japanese-Americans affected by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Thousands of American citizens were being stripped of their civil liberties, their businesses, and their homes before being placed in internment camps scattered around the country.

Lange was originally opposed to the idea but accepted the task because she thought “a true record of the evacuation would be valuable in the future.” But after reviewing her photographs and their portrayal of the Japanese American experience, the military became concerned how the images of the internment program would be received by the public. Read more

Tip of the Week: 5 social studies text sets, reading passages, and notable tradebooks

As we ask our kids to read more fiction as well as non-fiction texts, it can sometimes be difficult finding just the right content. The good news is that there are resources online that can help. Here five of the most helpful: Read more