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History Nerdfest 2016 Day Two: VBQs – Using Google Forms and multimedia to create engaging problem solving

And now it begins.

This morning is the the first day of the full on #ncss16 conference. Five sessions to attend today ending with a 5:00 presentation with @MsKoriGreen that will focus on using VR and Google Cardboard. Diet Pepsi, almond croissant, and fully charged devices.

First session?

Video Based Questions. Using Google Forms to create a more interactive version of a DBQ. I’ve been using something that I called a MDQ for a while that sounds very similar. My Media-Based Question also uses video, audio, and photos to engage kids in some sort of a writing prompt.

Kelly Grotrian from East Brunswick, NJ has also been using the idea of mashing up Google Forms with Document-Based Questions. She’s done Read more

History Nerdfest 2016 Day One: Learning to Look with the National Portrait Gallery

I flew into Washington yesterday afternoon and had a few hours to kill before the Nerdfest kicked off and so had the chance to visit a couple of the DC museums – I spent a few hours at the International Spy Museum and a couple of hours at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Never been to the Spy Museum, a little cheesy but still interesting. (To give you an idea, if you’ve never had the chance, it has a whole floor dedicated just to James Bond villians.)

The National Portrait Gallery? So cool. Seriously. Three huge floors of . . . well, mostly portraits. But other artwork and photographs and famous people and Civil War images and basically America from start to the present through the eyes of artists. (To give you an idea, the famous painting of Alexander Hamilton is right. Over. There.)

I’ve been before to the NPG before and stood there looking at all of this history, thinking to myself

How can social studies teachers use this?

Thanks to the last session of Day One and Briana White, now I know. As the manager of Teacher Programs at the National Portrait Gallery, Briana knows how social studies teachers can use all of that history.

She started by sharing the mission of the NPG: Read more

History Nerdfest 2016 Day One: DBQs and elementary kids

Yeah. I get it. #NCSS16 and #NSSSA16 have the words “social studies” in their titles. But Social Studies Nerdfest just doesn’t sound as cool as History Nerdfest. It just isn’t.

So . . . try to ignore it if it bugs you. Either way, I’ve got two and half days left in the annual National Social Studies Supervisors / National Council for the Social Studies conference – thousands of social studies teachers getting together to chat / learn / argue about all sorts of cool, fun, and new social studies stuffs. This year, we’re all together in Washington DC. How cool is that?

Just a bunch of history nerds getting together to get smarter. And every year I try as best that I can to document the nerdy goodness I run across. The first session of this year’s Nerdfest was actually a session I did at the NSSSA –  quick review of Virtual Reality in the Social Studies. It went well . . . right up until the Internet stopped connecting all of our devices in the Google Expeditions app.

Yeah. We faked it for a few minutes and eventually got a few people into the VR world. But still some great conversation about possibilities of VR in the SS.

The first session that I attended was titled Teaching and Assessing DBQs in the K-2 Grades. And you’re probably thinking what I was thinking. Seriously? I talk about having elementary kids use primary sources but the title was very intriguing. I was not disappointed.

Regina Wallace and Tashika Clanton of Clayton County Public Schools near Atlanta shared how their district is scaffolding the DBQ skills of five, six and seven year old kids. Yup. Pretty awesome. I tried to keep up and have pasted some of what they shared below.

Biggest takeaway? Read more

3D History: Exploring the world with Virtual Reality & Google Cardboard

There’s nothing quite like being part of several thousand social studies teachers – all hanging out together in Washington D.C at the #NCSS2016 conference. It doesn’t get much better than spending four days chatting about history and best practice and tech integration and resources and geography and civics and econ while spending the evenings at the new Smithsonian African American museum, the Newseum, and the National Portrait Gallery.

And getting the chance to lead a couple of conference sessions – one of them with Kansas Council for the Social Studies president and superstar middle school teacher Kori Green? Icing on the cake.

Kori has been using the Google Expeditions app and Cardboard VR viewers with her kids this fall semester. Together we shared her experiences and a few other suggestions for classroom use. For those of you not able to make our session, I’ve posted some of the conversation and a few additional resources here for whoever might find them useful.

This is a short list. Have some of your own goodness to share? Post ’em in the comments.

General resources Read more

Okay, Google. Teach my class

I just got off the phone with a former social studies teacher and current building admin. She’s working with several of her teachers as they develop standards-based lessons and units.

Part of the problem that they’re running into, of course, is that the state standards here in Kansas are not your typical standards. Our document does list some suggested people, places, events, and ideas for each grade level. But that list is not mandated or assessed at the state level. The social studies standards in Kansas is made up of a simple bulleted list:

  • Choices have consequences
  • Citizens have rights and responsibilities
  • Societies are shaped by beliefs, ideas, and diversity
  • Societies experience continuity and change over time
  • Relationships among people, places, ideas, and environments are dynamic

The purpose behind this “simple” list is to encourage classroom instruction that ties social studies content to these big ideas. We used the term mental velcro a lot – why teach the aftermath of the Civil War? Why teach about the Army of Amazons in southeast Kansas? Why teach redlining in Chicago during the 1930s?

Because Read more

Relevancy, current events, and best practice

One of the longest conversations we had while working to rewrite our state standards was the one focused on relevancy. As in, how can we encourage teachers and students to make connections between past and present. We knew that engaging kids in the content is key. That hooking students into wanting to solve problems is vital to long-term retention and application.

We finally settled on using language centered around “contemporary issues.” It was a great conversation and one that all social studies teachers need to constantly think about.

But I recently ran across an article over at the Middle Web Future of History site that does a great job of explaining what it really can look like when we make social studies relevant and work to connect it to the lives of our students.

Written by Lauren S. Brown of US History Ideas for Teachers, the article suggests Read more