Long time readers know how much I love maps. I don’t really know for sure when the infatuation started but Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton may have had something to do with it.
I ran across Katy recently for the first time in years as I was sorting through bookshelves containing some old books. For those of you too young to have read Katy and the Big Snow as a child, a quick recap.
Katy is “a brave and untiring tractor” who pushes a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter, making it possible for the townspeople of Geoppolis to do their jobs. In this particular story, Katy drives around all over the town – north, south, east, and west – with her snow plow, opening up the town so that citizens could complete a variety of different public and private tasks such as delivery the mail, putting out a fire, and shopping at a grocery store.
It’s a great book for a lot of reasons but one big reason is there’s so much to look at, especially in the margins. I loved that book growing up.
The best part of the book, I’m sure we’ll all agree, Read more
With Netflix (or is it Amazon Prime? Maybe both?) offering free access to movies depicting events of the civil rights movement and the African American experience, you’ve got a great excuse to come in from the 98 degree heat.
Watch some great history. Learn some stuff. And extra bonus?
Get some free stuff.
I posted this article back in 2015 after the movie Selma came out in theaters. And saw a great connection between the film and the amazing collection of free lessons and videos from Teaching Tolerance.
The free stuff was awesome then. And it’s still awesome now.
I finally got the chance to see Selma over the weekend. And afterwards, I tweeted out that it’s a “must see.” Having had a chance to digest a bit and talk with others who’ve seen it, I’m still convinced. The movie does a great job of Read more
“. . . it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
Let’s be clear.
I really have no idea what I’m talking about. As a middle aged white guy born and raised in Western Kansas, who taught 8th graders in a suburban school district and higher ed at a small liberal arts college, I’m probably the last person who might have some answers to the issues of racial injustice and systemic racism in the United States.
But I do know that I need to take responsibility for trying to figure it out. How to start? By acknowledging the privileges I enjoy because of who and what I am.
I’ve never enslaved others or transported kidnapped Africans to North America or passed Jim Crow legislation or attacked civil rights workers. But I can acknowledge that the world I live in was built by people who did, as part of a system specifically designed to benefit me and others like me. Uncomfortable as it is to admit, some of my actions in this world have directly or indirectly contributed to further divisions. And I need to continue learning how best to work alongside others to correct the flaws in that system.
As a history teacher, it’s easy for me to think of America in the abstract. But we need to recognize and admit that there has always been two Americas. The abstract one – the one we aspire to, a place of equality and freedom and idealism and democracy. You know, the America we teach our kids.
And then there’s that other America, the actual one we all live in. For many of us – especially those of us living and teaching in small, rural, mostly white communities – life can seem like the one we teach. So it’s easy to forget how big and diverse and ugly and difficult the real America is for many around the country – and if we’re honest, how difficult it is for some in the small, rural, mostly white communities as well. The disconnect between those two realities has always existed but events this spring have made that disconnect more obvious for many of us.
There is no amount of Read more
Most of you already know about the History Tech summer reading program. If you just starting hanging around, a quick recap.
For years, I’ve been making a list of books that I plan to read between the end of school in May and back to school in August. Social studies superhero, teaching guru, and my unofficial mentor back in the day, Mike Ortmann, encouraged me to use June, July, and August as a time for personal professional growth. Don’t just waste it at the pool – use the summer to build up some new content knowledge and research a few teaching strategies with a little individual book study.
It was great advice then. And it still is. Getting better at what we do should always be a focus. My job has changed a bit since the Mike Ortmann days but I still love the idea of stacking up six or seven books and jumping in.
And what better time to do that than right now? You’ve got a little free time. I’m guessing there’s an easy chair by an AC vent or an Adirondack set up outside somewhere.
I’m still a fan of print but feel free to go the e-book or audio route. Heck . . . there are great podcasts out there as well. But Mike was right. Summer’s the perfect time for personal professional growth no matter what format you prefer.
So . . . here’s what I got going. Read more
I’ve seen it so many times.
And you probably do it every day, without even realizing it.
I’ll be chatting with a teacher just before they start a class or enter their room and there is subtle but powerful shift in body language. It’s happened so often, I started calling it the Wonder Woman pose. You’re making a very deliberate mental shift to teacher mode and that mental adjustment impacts how you stand and move.
I asked a teacher about it once and she said:
“I’ve never really thought about it. But I guess I’m thinking about what I need to do and how I’m going to do it. I’m clicking on a mental tool belt.”
She’s right. We all put on a virtual tool belt every time we get in front of students. Pulling out just the right tool for a specific task.
If you’ve never been to the Google Arts & Culture site, this is truly one of those tools that needs to be in your instructional tool belt. Arts & Culture gives you free access to millions of primary and secondary resources to use as part of your instruction and learning.
Basically it’s a database of artwork, objects, artifacts, and documents from thousands of museum collections and historical sites from around the world. Much of this content comes from Arts and Culture partners – public museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. These partners also provide such things as 3D tour views and street-view maps that allow you to “walk” through their actual brick and mortar sites. Read more
I wrote this post about 18 months ago.
Back during the Before Times.
Back when, you know, things were normal and not so fricking . . . not normal. At the time, along with some amazing social studies rock stars, I got the chance to review and update the state standards document. That revised document was approved by the state board just days before all of this fricking . . . not normal stuff started. And I do think this newly approved, just rolled out document is better. It focuses on process while providing flexibility for local districts to decide on specific content.
And in many ways, it’s a fairly radical departure from what many state level standard documents look like. It’s got some suggestions on broad ideas and themes, some ideas on grade level scope and sequence. But no required history minutiae. No specific dates. Or people. Or events. We wanted kids to walk away with critical thinking skills that they can apply in a variety of contexts.
But now I’m curious.
If we had known then what we know now, would we have created something even more revisionist? As in, as the educational system is shifting towards a more blended, hybrid learning environment – one focused on problem-based learning, on a competency-based model rather than seat time – do the standards need to be pared down even more?
What truly is important for social studies students to know and be able to do? And do we even call them social studies students any more? Would Humanities students make more sense?
This Wayback Wednesday post focuses on 2018 Washington Post article that asked seven history gurus a simple question:
What are the most important things young people should be learning in school today?
Your homework is simple. Answer the question: Read more