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Posts tagged ‘civics’

Tip of the Week: “I would rather have them hate the class . . . “

Okay. I don’t want kids to hate social studies. Let’s be clear about that from the get go. But . . . I also think that we sometimes fall off the wagon on the other end by working way too hard trying to find activities that our kids will enjoy or projects that are “engaging.”

It’s been almost ten years since I first heard Sam Wineburg speak. I had read his book Thinking Historically and Other Unnatural Acts. Read some of his early articles on historical thinking skills and loved his ideas about how we needed to re-think our approach to teaching history. But it wasn’t until a combined Kansas / Missouri Council for History Education conference way back in 2008 that I first heard him speak. He opened the conference with a keynote highlighting the main ideas in his book.

And now, of course, he’s a future social studies Hall of Famer having helped to swing the pendulum of social studies instruction over to something more focused on a balance of both content and process.

But something he said back in 2008 has stuck with me: Read more

Creating both great producers and consumers of information

I’m in snowy and snowing Minnesota at its annual Council for the Social Studies conference. We’re sheltered inside the state History Center – what better place for a bunch of social studies teachers?

First session is right up my alley. Strengthening democracy by training kids to be better users of social media and online tools. Jennifer Bloom from the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation is helping us create socially responsible and informed citizens. The Foundation hosts the Teaching Civics website – a cool place with over 800 lesson plans. They also have some handy ed resources.

As we get better at training kids to be engaged and informed citizens, she says Read more

Tip of the Week: Bias, civic literacy, and historical thinking skills

Back when my youngest was in fourth grade, I asked her to preview the very cool You Are the Historian website. It’s an interactive tool that asks elementary kids to use historical thinking skills while addressing the site’s guiding question: What really happened at the first Thanksgiving?

The site led her through primary sources, to video clips of colonial historians, and to the exploration of different artifacts. After she was finished, I asked her what she learned by “playing” the game:

The past is what really happened. History is what we say happened.

I couldn’t have been prouder. That’s exactly what I hoped to hear. (And good job, BTW, You Are the Historian creators.)

History is our interpretation of evidence.

We have a problem. We look at evidence. And we figure it out. But I’m not always sure that we’re teaching our kids how to do that very well. Part of the problem is bias. We don’t always make it clear enough that everything we have our kids use to solve the problems we give them is biased.

And just as there is no such thing as unbiased primary evidence, there is no such thing as unbiased secondary evidence. All news, photos, media sites, books – it’s all biased.

Need a few examples? Read more

Teaching Toolkit: 9 resources for discussing the government shutdown

As a poly sci junkie, I’m torn.

The 2018 government shutdown is bad for just about everybody. And it seems like it happened over something that most Americans want to see happen – protection for Dreamers. A Fox News poll says 86% of us support DACA. A CBS poll reports 87% supporting the idea.

But the shutdown does create an opportunity to jump into all sorts of conversations involving civics and procedure and policy and elections and checks and balances and three branches and  media bias . . . well, you get the idea. If you haven’t already, this week might be a good time to jump ship on your scheduled curriculum and spend some time making connections to the government side of the social studies.

Need a few quick resources? Read more

Stuff I didn’t know: Fred Korematsu, civil liberties, and those very cool 10 amendments

There are so many things that I don’t know. I don’t know how the KC Chiefs lost a playoff game to the Tennessee Titans. I don’t know why people eat brussel sprouts. I have no idea how to tie a bowtie.

And that’s just the stuff that doesn’t really matter. There’s always tons of stuff that I should know but don’t.

Need an example? I didn’t know until today that there is an official Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Yup. Should have known that. I do know who Fred Korematsu is. But I didn’t know there was a special day set aside just for him and civil liberties.

How cool is that? I love this. We need as many days as we can get that celebrate civil rights and the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution.

Quick review. Read more