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Hacking #iste2015: Just me and 18,000 of my closest friends

I’ve attended and presented at a lot of edtech conferences. Heck, ESSDACK hosts its very own edtech goodness called Podstock. But for a lot of reasons, I’ve never made it to ISTE. I get it. It’s big. Loud. Lots of sessions. Lots of receptions. Lots of giveaways. Lots of social media. It’s like the Super Bowl, World Series, and World Cup of edtech all rolled into one big event. Did I already say that it’s big?

And for someone who tends to the left of the introvert scale like me, there’s nothing like 18,000 other people all trying to get to the same place at the same time as I am to really get me jacked.

I kid cause I love. Read more

Why should you hire a history student? (Spoiler alert. Cause they’re awesome)

For a long time, many in education have viewed the K-12 system as the minor leagues for college. We take pride in how many of our HS grads are accepted into colleges, especially the elite ones. We’ve created curriculum and tests and policy and tracks that encourage the jump from high school to university.

Nothing really wrong with that. I’m a big fan of the liberal arts myself. But not everyone is interested in two or four or eight more years of school. Some are ready to jump into other things. And that’s okay too. But the system can sometimes marginalize those sorts of students.

And so, over the last few years, there’s been a shift. A recent push is happening in a lot of places, Kansas included, to find ways for K-12 education to do a better job of prepping kids for careers as well as college. STEM and STEAM and Pathways and Career Clusters now are helping K-12 schools to become little training grounds for businesses.

Nothing really wrong with that. I’m a big fan of creating employable people myself. But not everyone wants to jump right into the job market. But at times, it can seem as if the push to create employable people marginalizes the humanities – history, art, literature.

I think we can and should do both. And I think most schools are doing a pretty good job of finding the balance. But I do hear more questions about the value of a humanities / history degree than I used to.

What can you do with that degree? How can studying history help you get a job?

And a few months ago, I ran across an old post at a site called Shaunanagins. The name alone was enough to suck me in. But the post title and content kept me around. 30 Reasons it’s Smart to Hire a History Student does a great job of addressing the questions of those who are unsure where the humanities fits into a 21st century curriculum

We know, because we see it every day, how important the transferable skills are that we teach in our classrooms. But Shauna Vert clearly articulates the reasons why businesses need to seek out the history majors.

Need a taste? Read more

Historical TV, videos, and history teachers

We’re all very aware of the stereotypical social studies teacher. Former jock. Current coach. Always busy with game plans and practice schedules. Hands out worksheet packets on Monday with a test on Friday. Constantly interspersed with movies and videos along the way.

We also know that the stereotype very seldom rings true. I was a coach for years. We all know great social studies teachers who teach and coach. I get the chance to wander the world working with all sorts of excellent social studies teachers. Keil Hileman in the Kansas City metro area district of De Soto uses 25,000 historical artifacts as part of instruction. He was the Kansas teacher of the year several years ago. Nathan Mcalister in Royal Valley MS simulates Civil War surgery with original medical tools, hosts a yearly history fair with kids hacking out canoes and building sod houses. His kids pushed an actual bill through both houses of the Kansas legislature. He was selected as the Gilder Lehrman national teacher of the year.

Kori Green routinely connects her students with kids around the world in live chats as they solve authentic problems. Jon Bauer teaches in one of the most isolated places in the state of Kansas while implementing all sorts of powerful learning activities. Activities such as having 8th graders rank historical events and developing a March Madness tournament as an end of year summative assessment. Jill Weber uses a variety of technologies to encourage high levels of learning including a TV Reality Show Pitch.

And yes. There are some teachers who perhaps could work a bit harder on their instructional design. I’ve seen those as well. But here’s the thing. Read more

Tip of the Week: 25 moments that changed history

I ran across an article on my Flipboard from Time the other day. Titled “25 Moments that Changed America,” the article highlights “instances big and small that cleared the way for something greater to come after. Many of those moments are easy to name: the assassinations, the invasions, the elections. Many are more subtle, their impact visible only in hindsight.”

You see lists like this every once in a while. With some sites, it seems as if that’s all you see. But I click on them anyway. I think we all do. I’m pretty sure there’s some part of the brain that is attracted to lists. So don’t judge my title.

As history folks, we’re especially drawn to that sort of list because, well . . . we’re nerds. We like history trivia. We like learning. We like connecting pieces of the past to the present. So of course we read the list. You’re probably over there right now.

But I also hope that you’re drawn to the list because you know that it might be the foundation for a great lesson or activity.  Read more

Throw out what doesn’t work. Replace it with this.

I knew the day was coming. There is a fairly extensive remodeling project happening in our office, including the need to move some storage areas for a new ESSDACK MakerSpace.

One of the storage areas sitting right in the middle of the danger zone includes some of my stuff. So Michelle, Facilities Director, office podmate, and “clean up your junk” taskmaster, let me know that my things had to find other living arrangements.

Fifteen years. That’s how long I’ve had the privilege of spending time here. Lots of good times. But also lots of stuff. Seriously, lots of stuff. So I spent four hours this morning going through shelves, folders, and three ring binders trying to decide what to keep and what to toss.

Yeah. Fifteen years of collecting books and resources. Fifteen years of lesson plan ideas and materials. Journals, articles. Freebies from conferences. Workshop handouts.

I eventually ended up with seven very full boxes headed to the recycle bin. Read more

What I Eat, Hungry Planet, Material World. Your geography curriculum in three gorgeous books

I’m not exactly sure where I was or what I was doing when I first ran across Peter Menzel’s first book, Material World, A Global Family Portrait. Pretty sure it was some sort of social studies conference years ago and a vendor had some poster size images from Material World. And I was captured.

The images were powerful. The text informative and engaging. The teaching and learning possibilities endless.

It was a simple concept. Read more

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