I’ve been on a serious Nathaniel Philbrick kick over the last few months and just finished Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War. It’s an incredibly interesting and detailed exploration of the interactions between the Indigenous nations of what we now call New England and English Pilgrims and Puritans during the 1600s.
Schoolhouse Rock left out some stuff. Seriously. A lot of stuff.
One issue that Philbrick was very open about reminded me of a conversation I had with a group of upper elementary teachers several years ago. I had asked them to read an article titled How Do We Teach With Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing? Published by Education Week, the article highlights the difficulty in telling a complete story when Indigenous voices are hard to find, the same issue that Philbrick struggled with.
Bottom line? We need to train both ourselves and our students to look beyond what the easy to find sources are telling us. (I’m looking at you, Schoolhouse Rock. And our textbooks. And a lot of contemporary trade books.) It’s what Sam Wineburg once called “reading the silences.” We need to be more intentional about finding and using sources that fill in those silences, than let kids listen to the stories that are often untold and left out.
Finding these missing voices is important for a lot of reasons. But one particular quote in the EdWeek article stood out for me:
I spent the majority of my grade school years at Alta Brown Elementary School in Garden City, America, working on my three Rs. It was pretty traditional stuff – snacks every afternoon, keeping the metal slipper slide super slick with our waxed milk cartons, lots of math drills, straight rows of desks, and, of course, the very awesome Weekly Reader that showed up every Thursday.
Surely you haven’t forgotten the Weekly Reader.
For those of you who didn’t have that particular grade school experience, the Weekly Reader showed up, well . . . every week. Designed for elementary kids, it highlighted current events and always included interesting feature stories. And it was glorious. At least for a budding social studies nerd like me.
My memories were jogged a week or so ago when I ran across the Read more
It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.
Like most of you, I first ran across the Structured Academic Controversy idea via Sam Wineburg and his Stanford History Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian curriculum. Specifically SHEG’s Was Lincoln a Racist lesson. But there’s always been that sense that Wineburg and his troop of SHEG geniuses adapted the strategy to fit their needs. And maybe I’ve been doing it wrong. So thanks Georgia Brown from Grayslake, Illinois who led a conversation this afternoon about what it can look like outside the SHEG universe.
So let’s start with the basics. What is a Structured Academic Controversy?
It’s a cooperative learning strategy developed by brothers David and Roger Johnson to engage small groups of students in the discussion of controversial issues. Through a series of steps, students add to their understanding of an issue or question. After students have fully explored and analyzed the pro and con arguments on an issue or question, they work as a group to reach a consensus on the issue.
So it’s not a debate. There are no winners and losers here. We’re just trying to find the best answer to the question. But looking at pros and cons gives kids the chance to look at multiple perspectives without the pressure of having to “win.”
Feel free to head over to the original Johnson brothers article and get their research and instructions. And you’re done. But we had a great conversation about what it can look like in the classroom so don’t be afraid to head back here for a few more tips and tricks.
Georgia started with the basic steps in the process she uses: Read more
Last May, I pushed this out. It still seems relevant. So . . . today? A #mondaymemory post. Enjoy!
Need a brain break? Ready for some current event / world culture / global literacy questions?
Here ya go. Six basic questions covering events of the day and an awareness of the world around you. (Check your work at the bottom of the post.)
1. In which of these countries is a majority of the population Muslim?
a. South Africa
2. Which language is spoken by the most people in the world as their primary language?
b. Mandarin Chinese
3. Which country is the largest trading partner of the United States, based on the total dollar value of goods and services?
d. Saudi Arabia
4. Approximately what percentage of the United States federal budget is spent on foreign aid?
a. 1 percent
b. 5 percent
c. 12 percent
d. 30 percent
e. 40 percent
5. Which countries is the United States bound by treaty to protect if they are attacked? (select all that apply)
e. North Korea
g. South Korea
6. True or False
Over the past five years, the number of Mexicans leaving the United States and returning to Mexico has been greater than the number of Mexicans entering the United States. Read more
I’m spending the day at the KSDE Impact Institute – loving the learning and connecting with teachers from around the state. This afternoon has been spent nerding out with Kim Wahaus, awesome Olathe South HS government teacher. We talked about a ton of stuff but my walkaway?
That as social studies teachers, we need to be deliberate about connecting our social studies content and process with the lives of our students.
Nothing new for most of you, I know. But it was a good reminder of how important this idea really is.
Real world connections are used to help students see that learning is not confined to the school, allows them to apply knowledge and skills in real world situations, and personalizes learning to increase and sustain student engagement.
Kim shared some ideas of what that sort of conversation might look like. She started by showing a New York Times Learning Network clip highlighting the timeline of the recent Orlando shooting. Ask kids to use this clip and article to collect basic information.
Five W’s and H – who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Then she suggests showing a clip from the TV show Read more
I’m not necessarily fond of politicians but I do love the political process. I love elections and all of the conversations that come with them. The commentary. The analysis. It’s like March Madness bracketology and the NFL playoffs all rolled into one. For a political science nerd like me, a brokered Republican convention? Yes, please.
But even for me, some of what’s taking place during this year’s election season is a bit much. Seriously? Hand size?
So a couple of tips to help you and your students survive the next eight months: Read more