Skip to content

Only Social Studies in the Building. Using podcasts as teaching tools

I know I’m not the only one who’s waiting to find out the ending to Season Two, Only Murders in the Building. A True Crime show about a True Crime podcast? With Steve Martin? What could be better?

Even if you’re not an #OMITB fan, I’m guessing that you’re probably following at least one or two actual podcasts. Perfect for anywhere, anytime learning and listening, podcasts can also be great additions to your social studies classroom.

Why podcasts?

Read more

Wayback Wednesday: Likes and Wonders peer review works like a charm!

I’ve decided that it’s too hot to write something today. But not too hot to grab one of my fave posts from a couple years back. Today? A Wayback Wednesday post highlighting a great way to have your kids participate in a powerful peer review process.

—————–

I’ve always appreciated the idea of Likes & Wonders. Asking kids to think about art, for instance. Or during gallery walks of student products.

But I haven’t really thought much about the idea of using the same sort of thinking process during live presentations by students. So yesterday was a new learning experience for me when I got the chance to play a part in PBL guru Ginger Lewman’s two day Passion-Based Learning session.

Ginger was working with a small group of high school teachers, walking through some PBL steps and asking teacher groups to do sample presentations. Along with a few other ESSDACK folks, I sat in on one of the presentations as a “student” listening to the presentation.

And it was cool to see the Likes and Wonders idea applied to student presentations.

We’ve all done it. We ask for an oral presentation of some sort. A kid or group of kids get up. They do three or four or 15 minutes of a presentation. Chances are, the preso isn’t that good. And the classroom audience is completely disengaged. Kids in the audience have either already presented and don’t care anymore or they’re presenting next and are freaking out.

The whole point here is get kids to think historically and practice literacy skills. So what to do when presentations aren’t that good and the audience is nowhere to be found?

Read more

Need some social studies strategies for back to school? How about seven?

After the last few years, there’s not much that surprises me anymore. It’s been such a weird two and a half years of school. (And for classroom teachers, an incredibly challenging and difficult time.)

But I’m always just a little bit shocked when I hear about districts that crank up during the first week in August. As in . . . next week. Seriously? I’m just now starting to figure out the Delaware beach system and you’re going back to school?

But maybe you’re in that same boat, shoving off with kids already in seven days. If you are, this post may be a little too late. But I’m hoping that for most of you, you’ve got at least one or two more weekends before your first student contact day.

To help energize your first awesome week with kids, here are seven great ways to kick off the school year. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Ignore the rest.

What not to do

But before we get too far along with what we know works, it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t. I’ve mentioned Fourteen Things You Should Never Do on the First Day of School before but it’s still a great reminder of what it looks like when we’re doing it wrong. Mark Barnes suggest that your goal should be a very simple one during the first few days of school:

You have many days to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses. You have months to discuss high stakes testing and standards. You’ll spend weeks probing the textbook.

The first few days of school should be dedicated to rapport-building and to joy.

Your goal should be that students go home that night and tell their parents: “I’m going to love history class because my teacher is awesome!”

So what should we be doing the first week?

Read more

Can the Chronicling America site get any better? Yes. Yes, it can.

Seriously. Other than somehow delivering their results with a large iced tea and delicious side order of hand-cut fries, is there any way that the Library of Congress Chronicling America site could get any better?

I mean, you’ve got almost 200 years worth of digitized primary source newspapers available for scanning, analyzing, printing, and perfect for use for all sorts of learning activities in your classroom. Searchable by keyword. By language. By state. And it’s free. What’s not to like?

So is there really any way that it can get better? Yes. Yes, it can.

Adding a map with an embedded timeline would make it better. So . . . that’s what the LOC people did. You now can search for newspapers by location and time visually using their new interactive map. So cool.

Read more

Well . . . look at you, America! 246 and counting!

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress listened as Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed a resolution declaring the United States independent from Great Britain:

“Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

It was a bold move. Several states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were not yet ready to support this potentially fatal step. Failure to approve the resolution could lead to the collapse of the shaky alliance between the 13 colonies. An earlier proposal by John Adams on May 15 declaring that “it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed” barely passed. Four colonies voted against it and the delegation from Maryland stormed out of the room in protest.

Congress agreed to delay the vote on Lee’s Resolution until July 1. During that time, Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence to accompany the resolution. Consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson, the committee selected Jefferson to be the primary author of the document. A rough draft of the document was presented to Congress for review on June 28.

Debate followed. And on July 2, 1776, the Congress voted to approve the resolution that had been proposed a month earlier – declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining their decision. Members debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving a final version of the document on July 4. (There is some debate on when the document was actually signed with the National Archives suggesting an August 2 date.)

We celebrate on the 4th but John Adams understood that it was the fateful vote two days earlier that is what we are really observing. In his famous letter to Abigail:

Read more

“A tradition like no other.” 10 books to read this summer

To quote Jim Nantz and his love for the Master’s golf tournament, “it’s a tradition unlike any other.”

And just like the Master’s, the March Madness basketball tournament, the NCSS national conference, and the annual May collapse of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, my self-assigned summer reading program is something that’s been part of my yearly schedule for almost as long as I can remember.

An early mentor from my Derby Middle School teaching days, Mike Ortmann, was fairly adamant about the whole thing. “This is not a part-time job,” he said.

Don’t get lazy over the summer, he said. Read some books. Expand your mind. Hone your craft. Be sure to stay current, he said.

So . . . who was I to argue? The guy was a social studies rock star. And ever since, I’ve created a list of books that I plan to read during the summer months. It’s a great idea. Read some stuff. Take some notes. Get smarter. (Of course, it’s common knowledge that I’ve never actually finished one of these lists. And it’s not going to happen this year either, just saying. A used book store five minutes from my house? Yeah. That’s gonna be trouble.)

This year’s list is a mix of work-related and just fun-to-read books. In no particular order:

Read more