Let’s be honest.
Very few of us are poets. Very few of us probably even read a lot of poetry.
That might change after this morning’s recitation by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Her poem titled “The Hill We Climb” resonated with a variety of themes from American history.
And hope. Read more
Maybe. Just maybe.
Maybe it’s not that our students are gullible. It’s that they’re too cynical. Maybe it’s not that our students don’t believe in the facts. It’s that they don’t know who to trust. Maybe it’s not that our students can’t think critically. It’s that perhaps they’re thinking deeply while interacting with the wrong resources.
I get it. The events of the last few weeks support the idea that we need more social studies. More civics. More difficult and controversial conversations. (Especially at the elementary level.) Couldn’t agree more. We do need more social studies.
But I’ve been in a lot of classrooms and know a lot of great educators. There is already amazing social studies instruction happening in lots of places. So maybe we need to step back, take a breath, stop talking about requiring civic exams in order to graduate, and be more intentional about building on the good stuff that we all know is already there.
What might that look like? Read more
I was busy online with a small group of elementary social studies teachers yesterday afternoon when my phone started buzzing. I ignored it for a bit but after a teacher in the group sent me a private message in my Zoom window, my attention shifted. And then, of course, was distracted until late last night and into this morning.
Your role as a social studies teachers has never been more important. Or more difficult.
I was able to take part in a special #sschat session last night and walked away amazed at the power of a social studies PLN. The topic?
“How do I teach tomorrow?”
So many incredible teachers and so many amazing conversations. Blew. Me. Away. There was so much conversation going on, I’m heading back to the chat archive this evening to catch up on all I missed.
(And if you haven’t been part of an #sschat or don’t follow the hashtag, head over to their chat archives and starting getting smarter. Not sure how to do that? Start here.)
One of the amazing things that developed during last night’s chat was the crowdsourced creation of a Google spreadsheet with tons of resources. If you’re looking for ways to talk with with your kids about the events of yesterday and the events that will be taking place over the next few weeks, you need to head over and check out the combined work of hundreds of teachers: Read more
The Constitution and its amendments seem pretty straight forward. The old girl is over 200 years old and has, for the most part, held up well. But helping kids understand the fragile nature of the ideas and practices embedded in the document can be difficult . . . especially when they see, hear, and read about attempts to ignore or circumvent those ideas and practices.
It’s been a long year. Especially if you’re a social studies teachers. (Government teachers, how ya doing?)
So perhaps it’s appropriate that we celebrate Bill of Rights Day every year on December 15. We get the cake and candles out. Shoot off some fireworks. Sing some old union organizing songs. Replay scenes from the Hamilton musical. Do it up right.
Wait . . . what? How many of you didn’t know that today is Bill of Rights Day? Read more
One way or the other, things will probably get a bit more . . . hmm, interactive in your classrooms over the next few weeks. As final results from today’s election trickle in this week and mail-in ballots are counted, you will most likely have some students who will question the results. Making class discussions difficult and uncomfortable.
But that sort of learning can be difficult. I get that. Throw the pandemic into the mix and I can’t think of a tougher time to be a classroom teacher. And you’re not alone in being concerned about taking on controversial topics.
Education Week survey data gathered back in 2017 suggested that many teachers find it difficult to talk about race, politics, and other controversial topics. Almost 30 percent expressly avoid it completely. Part of the problem is that many of us – 44 percent – don’t feel prepared to lead conversations that will probably get emotional.
So should you even try? And if you do decide to take on that challenge, what’s the best way to deal with those conversations?
Answer to the first question? Read more
The election is getting serious. We’re already collecting votes.
So if you haven’t yet jumped into teaching about the election, now’s the perfect time. Today, we’ve got seven handy online resources that’ll provide lessons, information, maps, graphs, and all sorts of other election goodness.
- Start with the Election Collection curated by PBS Learning Media. You’ll find seven different sections that will help you and students keep up with election news, study the history and process of presidential elections, explore voting rights, and engage in classroom debates with videos, activities, and lesson plans. You want to spend some time with their interactive Electoral Decoder to explore electoral college results from previous elections, and predict the outcome of the upcoming election. Participate in their Youth Media Challenge: Let’s Talk About Election 2020. Empower your students to share their take on issues that matter to them and learn how they can create and publish audio or video commentaries for a national audience.
- 270toWin has a similar Electoral Vote Calculator but they also delve deep into Senate and House races, state races, and governor races. You can find tons of historical data, the latest polls, and pundit predictions.
- Schools need to be places that champion civility, equal rights, safety, and civic action for social change and kids need opportunities to practice how to engage with people and ideas across differences.. So Teaching Tolerance offers a range of resources for engaging students on some of our most pressing societal issues.
- The Anti-Defamation League put together a series of resources that they’ve titled Teaching Tools: Before, During & After Elections.
- I love the work that the League of Women Voters does to increase voter turnout and provide information. Their Vote411 site is a perfect place to get voter registration information, candidate guides, and actual ballets from every election in the country.
- I’m still upset with Newsela and their move to lock down so much of their online stuff but they are offering a pretty sweet free set of election resources. (Though you will need to create an account or log-in to access the page.)
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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Work with Me page.