I had the opportunity to run into Ashley Naranjo and Darren Milligan last summer at the 2016 ISTE conference during their rollout of the new Smithsonian Learning Lab. And I was blown away. Seriously.
And, yes, Ashley and Darren were incredible. They’ve got the chops. But it was the Learning Lab and all of its cool tools that really got me fired up. I was literally writing a blog post during their presentation.
At the time, I said:
This will change how you and your kids collect, organize, share, and analyze primary evidence. It is seriously that good.
And after getting the chance to talk with them via Skype two days ago, I remain blown away. The Smithsonian Learning Lab truly can and should change how we do our jobs. At its core, the Lab is an online storage facility for 2,000,000 Smithsonian primary sources that gives you the opportunity to access those sources, organize them into collections, and share those collections with students.
And wait for it.
Your kids can do the same thing. So whether it’s you who creates the collection or your students do it, the Lab is a powerful way of curating resources. And it’s done in a beautiful, image driven environment that encourages users to make sense of the past and apply it to contemporary issues in ways not possible even five years ago.
So if you haven’t had a chance to experience the sweetness that is the Learning Lab, Read more
We all ask our kids to be active and continuous learners. To ask good questions. To solve problems. To share solutions.
And we need to model the same. Learning is a good thing, especially if it’s about history / social studies content and pedagogy. I spent a few minutes several weeks ago talking with an elementary teacher about how and why the Republican and Democratic parties have changed political positions over the last 160 years. She was working to plan a series of MLK Day activities and had questions about why Lincoln’s party had shifted so much.
A perfect example of a teacher working to hone her craft and improve both content / skills.
But it’s not an easy thing. Time is always a problem. Finding resources is a problem. So today I’m sharing a few online sites and blogs that can help. Read more
I’m a member of a semi-active Facebook group that was started several years ago following the final session of the Century of Progress TAH project. The group was an attempt by project participants to stay somewhat connected and supported after three years of working together.
We were able to develop a face-to-face PLC that meets four times a year and the Facebook group continues to act as a sort of digital conversation space. Most of us aren’t super active, simply lurking around and picking up the helpful tidbits posted by the few truly active members of the group.
One of those truly active members is Nathan McAlister, middle school teacher at Royal Valley MS. The 2010 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year, Nathan is one of those seriously gifted individuals, perfectly tuned to be a great middle school social studies teacher. And not only is he a great classroom teacher and GLI Master Teacher, he’s connected to both the state and national Councils for History Education and seems to know everybody in the social studies / history universe.
He’s one of the reasons I lurk on the Facebook. He’s got awesome teaching tips and resources to share. And last week, he did it again.
The History, Art, and Archives of the US House of Representatives.
Who knew? Read more
During the glory days of the Teaching American History projects, we handed out books like candy. We’d read. Argue. Reflect. Move on to the next. And I’m sure there were some who didn’t enjoy that process as much as I did. I understand that we all learn in different ways but it’s just hard for me to imagine life without books to read and talk about.
Plain and simple truth? You can never have enough books.
Keith Houston in his recent book titled, wait for it . . . The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time, advises readers to Read more
Martin Luther King Day is next week and you’ve probably already finalized your lessons. Hopefully you’ve got multiple days built in to widen the discussion to US history, government, and current events. To help with your planning, take advantage of the different resources and ideas below. (Developed in part by the New York Times Learning Network.)
Start with a couple of Teaching Tolerance articles – Do’s and Don’ts of MLK Day and Going the Extra Mile. Then head over to the LOC. Read more
I don’t think US K-12 kids ever hear the full story of the Underground Railroad. We read about Harriet Tubman and other brave conductors. Students browse through stories of individuals and families who hid and protected runaway enslaved persons. And somewhere in there is usually a story or two about how enslaved persons were trying to reach Canada.
But we don’t hear about what happened once runaway enslaved persons reached Canada. What was life like there? Were there free men and women of color already living there?
Now we can find out. Read more