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Tip of the Week: Social Studies Simulations for Sharing list

I’m not exactly clear on how and where I ran across the Social Studies Simulations for Sharing Google Doc. I’m pretty sure that Shawn McCusker, one of the original founders of the awesome #sschat hashtag / website and social studies edtech guru, created the document back in 2012. The list splashed back on the interwebs just before the 2015 holiday break and, after apparently spending the last few years watching reruns of the West Wing, I finally became aware of it.

The research behind the use of engaging learning activities such as video games and online simulations is pretty clear. More and more teachers are using these types of tools as part of their instructional design. Read more

2016 #SOTU, word clouds, blackout poetry, and thinking historically

“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Article II, Section 3, US Constitution

Back in the day, George Washington delivered the first state of the union address to Congress in New York City in 1790. Thomas Jefferson believed that a face to face version was too much King George the IIIish and so began sending written reports instead. Other presidents followed suit with the report being read to Congress by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson re-started the face to face idea in 1913.

Other #SOTU trivia?

Jimmy Carter delivered the last written message to Congress in 1981. Of course, it was also the longest message at over 33,000 words, so maybe that was a good thing. Nixon’s 1972 speech was the shortest at just over 28 minutes.

But enough poly sci nerd talk. How best to use last night’s festivities? Some quick thoughts:
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Tip of the Week: Best 10 Social Studies Stuffs of 2015

Over the holiday break, it’s a yearly tradition in my family to watch the movies Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Home Alone. With hot cocoa. While yelling out our favorite lines of dialogue.

“Stuffs” is a bit like that.

It’s become a History Tech tradition. For the last few years, I’ve been listing my personal Top Ten Social Studies Stuffs of the Year.

Yeah. I know. Not an actual word. Though I happen to think it should be. Cause I use the word stuff a lot.

The idea started out with a desire to list my ten favorite books of the year but I quickly realized that there were a lot of other things – websites, apps, movies – that I really liked as well.

So . . . stuffs. The plural of stuff.

I suppose you can call them whatever you want. But here, in no particular order, are the top ten things that I found useful, interesting, or just fun this past year.

Feel free to add your own stuff in the comments. Read more

Don’t be a dog person

I’m a dog person. I can get along with cats if I have to but all my life, it’s been dogs. My first dog, shared with my five brothers and sisters, was a German Shepard / Collie mix named Tuffy. And just so you know, Tuffy was the best dog ever.

Several years ago, my wife and I adopted a rescue dog that we named Rowdie. Rowdie’s a Jack Russell who is currently running a very close second to best dog ever. Definitely way better than a cat.

Cats ignore you, are snooty, and absolutely refuse to roll over and play dead.

But I said something like that once to a person who owned cats and was quickly put in my place: Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #1: Mockingjay lesson plans and resources

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

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It’s coming. If you haven’t been paying attention and don’t know what I’m talking about, chat for a few minutes with some of your students. I’m guessing that they can help you out.

Yup. That’s right. The last half of Mockingjay, the third and final Hunger Games movie opens November 20. It’s guaranteed  to set records for ticket sales after it opens.

Why?

Cause people love the book. Seriously love the book.

I became very aware of the power that Katniss and other Hunger Games characters have on people when my daughter and wife started reading the series several years ago. And the more I talked with them and as they shared more about the story, I began to realize the possibilities for integrating that story into social studies instruction.

Way back in September 2010, I wrote: Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #2: Don’t be that guy. You know . . . that guy. The Trivia Crack guy.

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

——-

I used to be that guy. The Trivia Crack guy. It was all I knew.

Lecture. Have kids outline the lecture. Grade the notes, hoping for just about any sort of organizational structure. Quizzes along the way. Maybe a worksheet. Throw in a map to color. Test at the end of the chapter.

Most of my own history instruction followed this pattern. And I was great at this sort of stuff. 105 Kansas counties? No problem. When did Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address? Yup. I got that. Causes of World War One? MAIN acronym. Boom.

And if you’re old enough to remember the analog Trivia Crack version called Trivia Pursuit, you’re gonna have to trust me – I owned that game. Seriously. Steve Schmidt and I were unbeatable.

(Don’t know about Trivia Crack? Stay away. Stay far, far away.)

So when I became a teacher?

I followed the same pattern. Lecture. (Though I did make an allowance for my middle schoolers by putting my notes on the overhead. And yes. It was the kind that had a roll of plastic that I cranked to bring up more of my carefully crafted outline.) Quiz. Worksheet. Test.

Because I thought that was what good teaching looked like.

But the longer I taught like that, the more confused I got. A few of my kids did great. Straight As. Most did average at best. And the rest? Read more

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