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.
It’s not often that you get the chance to meet and chat with any actual, real life hero. To make sure I didn’t miss my opportunity, I camped out on the floor right by the exit giving me a better chance to grab a spot at the front of the line.
John Lewis was speaking at the National Council for the Social Studies 2016 national conference and scheduled to sign copies of the last book in his amazing graphic novel series, March. There was only about a kazillion people in the audience and I didn’t want to miss out on getting my copy signed. So I made sure that as soon as Congressman Lewis finished his presentation, I was in position to hustle to the front of the autograph line.
I wanted to the chance to thank for Mr. Lewis for his service. He fought for his country, like many others, risking life and liberty to help ensure that America lived up to her promises.
I know we’ve already started down the path of the 2020 elections. But now it’s getting serious. We’re deep into the primaries and we’re actually counting votes.
So if you haven’t yet jumped into teaching about what’s coming next fall, now’s the perfect time. And History Tech has got you covered. Today, we’ve got seven handy online resources that’ll provide lessons, information, maps, graphs, and all sorts of other election goodness. Read more
We all love iCivics. And why not? Tons of useful tools. Simulations. Games. Lots of teaching materials. Oh, yeah. And it’s all free.
If you’re not super familiar with iCivics, it’s good to know why it exists.
“iCivics exists to engage students in meaningful civic learning. We provide teachers with well-written, inventive, and free resources that enhance their practice and inspire their classrooms.”
Simple. Accurate. But not very specific. So what does iCivics have that can help you this spring and next fall? Here are just a few of my favorite tools designed specifically to help with teaching the upcoming election.
In less than a year, all eyes will be on the Capitol steps for the next Presidential Inauguration. It’s going to be a busy year on the political front, and in your classroom. You can help your students become more knowledgeable about the U.S. election system with two of iCivics’ most popular games:
- Win the White House
- Cast Your Vote