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Happy Holidays!

A Christmas Story
1983

The Old Man
Aaah! “Fra-GEE-leh!” It must be Italian!
Mrs. Parker
Uh, I think that says FRAGILE, honey.
The Old Man
Huh? Oh, yeah.

must-be-italian

Have a great break!

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #8: “Teaching History Beyond the Textbook” Yohuru Williams and investigative strategies

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.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


yohuru-williams

I had the chance to hear Dr. Yohuru Williams speak last Friday at the National Council for History Education national conference. He started by sharing three things:

  • the Civil Rights movement is more than 1954-1968
  • the Civil Rights movement is more than just the South
  • the Civil Rights movement is more than just securing political opportunities

He continued by using what he calls #BlackLivesMatter moments – events that shape the movement and impact all of us – to frame the conversation. Need an example or two? Jackie Robinson was court martialed in 1944 as a result of refusing to move to the back of a military post bus. Little Rock Nine member Melba Beals started 1958 by resolving to “Do my best to stay alive until May 29.” Jimmy Lee Jackson protecting his family in Selma. Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. Love Canal. Flint, Michigan.

Seriously powerful stuff.

And while I knew of Dr. WIlliams, Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #9: Jill Weber and historical thinking bootcamp

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.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


Kansas - Jill Weber

Jill Weber gets it. She’s a middle school teacher honing her craft in Cheney, Kansas and she is rocking it.

Finding the balance between foundational content and process. Problems to solve. Evidence to analyze. No obvious answers. Academic discomfort. Groups to work in. Hands on. Physical movement. Obvious passion for the subject.

She’s one of those teachers that I would have wanted for my own kids to have when they were in middle school. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with her for almost six years.

She jumped in feet first to our second Teaching American History project back in 2010 and then transitioned into the ESSDACK social studies PLC. She was awarded the Kansas Council for the Social Studies 2016 secondary mini-grant and is the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year. And she shares a ton of her stuff on A View of the Web.

One of her recent posts caught my eye and asked if I could re-post it here. I love her idea of starting off the school year with a historical thinking bootcamp. She wants her middle schoolers to understand what they’re getting into and spends six days training her kids in the basics of thinking and reading like historians.

This is the sort of thing that I think all good social studies teachers are doing but I like that Jill has been very intentional about planning for this type of learning to happen. And while her focus is on middle school and Kansas / US history, this is stuff that all of us need to be doing.

So use what you can and adapt where needed but put these ideas into practice.


This is a long post, mostly Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #10: Tip of the Week: Teaching Bias, Historical Thinking, & Home Alone

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.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


I’ve talked about Kevin Roughton a couple of times. Kevin’s a middle school teacher in California and is doing some cool stuff with his instruction. We’ve been talking the last few days about some earlier Historyball posts and during the conversation, he shared an interesting lesson he uses to teach historical bias and to encourage document analysis.

I asked if I could share and Kevin said sure. And I started thinking . . . what would this look like for me? Can I adapt this to fit what I do?

Because we often struggle trying to envision this sort of activity in actual practice, I think teachers sometimes revert back to what they know and feel comfortable with. And that’s not always a good thing. What we feel comfortable with isn’t always quality instruction.

So today’s tip? Read more

Take a nap. Catch your breath. Read a book.

Kori Green, newly installed president of the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, shared a great piece of advice yesterday morning. Over at the KCSS Doing Social Studies site, Kori suggested that perhaps the best thing you can be doing this holiday break is . . . nothing.

Well. Not nothing. She did say that it would be okay to “read a book, spend time with your family, take the dog for a walk .  . . Take time for yourself and recharge.” I couldn’t agree more. Teaching has always been difficult and it’s not getting any easier. Some serious mental downtime right about now prepares you for a great second semester.

So if you are actually reading this – I’m guessing most of you have probably already left the building – here’s a bit of some similar advice.

I love the holidays. A Christmas Story, Elf, Home Alone. Chocolate covered coffee beans. Sugar cookies. Lots and lots of sugar cookies. Friends. Family. Christmas lights. Straight No Chaser. It’s all good.

But the best part of the holiday break, of course, is the actual break. So grab a book and make time to actually finish it. Much like my summer list, I try to always have a mini-holiday break reading list.

This year? Read more

Fake news is why you exist. And 12 tools that can help

Okay. Basic question.

“If I asked you to describe what you do every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Let me rephrase that a bit.

“If I asked you to describe what you should be doing every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Here’s my point. I think that we can get so caught up in the everyday that we sometimes forget why we exist. Grading papers. Taking roll. Going to meetings. Calling parents. Trying to keep middle school kids from setting things on fire. That’s a typical day in your life. I get that.

But I’m going to suggest today that we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

What’s the prize? Why do we exist?

The National Council for the Social Studies College, Career, and Civic Life Standards does a pretty good job of summing it up: Read more