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Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters book is disrupting my summer reading plans

I love my summer reading list.

You know the one. I put together a list of stuff I want to read over June, July, and August. Of course, not once have I ever been able to actually finish the list. I always get sidetracked by something. One summer, I got distracted and went on a whole Civil War tangent. Last year, it was old presidential election books like The Making of the President 1960.

This year’s distraction?

I just ran across the latest by literacy gurus Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. And I have to be honest, not that familiar with their work. I was part of a conversation several years ago that focused on their Notice and Note book. But I’ve gotten hooked by their current title: Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters.

Beers and Probst begin Disrupting Thinking with a quick story about a company called Read more

Commemorating the Great War with National Archives iPad app, resources, lesson plans

During the few hours that she has available between reading the Court of Thorns and Roses Series and finishing the Wii Zelda video game, my daughter spends a couple days a week as a volunteer intern at the National Archives Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene. She’s had the chance to organize a ton of donated primary sources, catalog teacher materials, and watched a general from Fort Riley’s 1st Infantry Division cut a cake in half with a sword.

So . . . she’s already having a better summer that most of us can hope for.

Today I got an email from her sharing a sweet new online tool that highlights some of NARA’s resources surrounding America’s entry into World War One. (NARA has so many different teacher tools available that it can be difficult keeping up with all of it. It’s nice having a member of the crack Eisenhower staff working on the inside to keep me up to date.) So I figured I’d pass on the NARA goodness.

The United States entered World War One on April 6, 1917. To honor the 100th anniversary, the National Archives created Read more

Tip of the Week: 6 strategies your students can use to combat fake news

For years, experienced social studies teachers have been asking kids to solve problems using evidence. Teaching them to practice historical thinking skills to analyze primary and secondary sources. Training them to evaluate evidence. To create arguments using that evidence.

This sort of instruction and learning wasn’t always officially encouraged. Great teachers did it because they knew it was good for kids. But our recently created state standards, the Common Core Literacy standards, and the NCSS Framework all now support this kind of quality teaching. Historical thinking skills are cool again.

And that’s a good thing. But . . . Read more

Likes, wonders, and powerful student presentations

I’ve always liked 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 seen it. 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

What’s your social studies ROI?

ROI was never something I had to worry about back in the day. If I made to 3:30 with nothing getting set on fire and all 135 middle schoolers accounted for, I checked it off as a major success.

Return on Investment? ROI? I’m not even sure the term had been invented yet. And if it had, I would have had no idea what it meant and how the idea might apply to my classroom.

For anyone without the MBA degree, ROI is a basic business concept that measures the efficiency of an investment of time and/or money. The higher the ROI, the more efficient the investment. Spend $10 on lemons, sugar, and the time to craft a cardboard sign. Make $60 selling lemonade. The ROI is $50. Nice job.

Spend $10. Make $5. ROI is negative $5. Time to go back and rethink your business model.

And back in the day, ROI would not have been something that educators would have worried about. The business model of school was different. Kids showed up. Kids sat in rows. Teacher talked. Kids copied down what the teacher said. Kids memorized what they wrote down. On Friday, teacher asked students to write down what they memorized. Teacher assigned a grade. Repeat.

The world of school is different now. We’re not following the traditional model of kids in rows and teacher centered instruction. (At least we shouldn’t be.) And ROI needs to be a part of this new world.

Before you all jump in with Read more

Google Street View, art, and quality social studies instruction

I never really thought much about using art as a social studies instructional tool. It was never something mentioned during my methods classes. We never studied it during my history content courses. And I never had much experience actualy creating art.

I mean . . . sure, I finger painted with the best of them. But it just didn’t occur to me to find ways to integrate art as part of my social studies instruction.

Then my kids came along. They loved creating all sorts of art. (The whale to the left is from my son’s primitive stage.) So I learned more about past and present art, I began thinking about the context of the artists, and I started seeing how art in all of its forms are great examples of primary sources.

The Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery strategies and lessons helped. I also fell in love with Google’s Arts and Culture site. So much goodness.

And now Google is making it even easier to find and view artwork for your lessons and units. Read more