I spent part of last Monday working with the awesome staff of the Eisenhower Foundation at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum. They hosted 18 teachers from around the state during a week long focus on using primary sources across the curriculum.
Part of our time together was spent talking about non-traditional primary and secondary sources. The teachers were all used to using texts such as diaries, speeches, and photographs. So it was fun sharing about stuff like artifacts and audio clips. But it was even more fun playing with virtual reality tours.
I’ve shared about virtual reality before. And if you’ve been around History Tech much, you already know that I’m convinced about the power of VR tours as part of learning.
There were some interesting conversations around primary vs. secondary sources and what really makes a virtual reality tour a primary source. And, of course, we talked about possible teaching strategies and activities for using VR as part of teaching and learning. The best question that came out of the discussion was: Read more
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
All the MCU fans out there know that this phrase was first used in the 1962 Amazing Fantasy #15 issue and then later by Uncle Ben in the 2002 Spiderman movie.
But history nerds know that different versions of the phrase have been around for much longer. Winston Churchill. Teddy Roosevelt. And this guy – Henry W. Haynes from the public library of Boston in 1879:
The possession of great powers and capacity for good implies equally great responsibilities in their employment. Where so much has been given much is required.
Yes. Google has added some new features to Classroom. And yes. There may be a need for them. But . . . we need to use these new features responsibly. Yes. These features will make life easier for teachers. But here’s the problem.
Like any edtech tool or feature, these new Classroom additions can be abused, focusing not on historical thinking skills but low level learning. Focusing on teacher centered, standardized learning rather than student centered, authentic learning.
Especially the one feature that has most caught the attention of teachers. Read more
Our current state standards have been around since 2013. Centered on five Big Ideas and a balance between content and process, the document is unlike previous standards documents. And after five years, most Kansas teachers are at least aware that we’re asking them and students to approach teaching and learning differently.
That we want students to have both foundational knowledge and historical / critical thinking skills. That social studies classrooms need to be more than drill and kill, lecture, worksheet, quiz on Friday. And that creating engaged, informed, and knowledgable citizens requires more than rote memorization and low level thinking.
While our standards look and feel differently than most other state level documents, teachers across the country – like their colleagues here in Kansas – are also being asked to concentrate on training kids to do social studies. Sam Wineburg is a household name. The teaching of historical thinking skills such as Sourcing, Contextualizing, and Corroborating is becoming commonplace. Bruce Lesh and his History Labs are being duplicated by teachers in all sorts of classrooms. The National Council for the Social Studies has also been a huge part of this pendulum shift with its College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) standards.
Good things are happening.
But . . .
Yup. There’s always a but.
During every standards training I do, every historical thinking conversation I have with teachers, there’s always a but. Read more
A couple of days ago, I shared the great news that Flipgrid is now completely free for educators and it got me thinking:
“What other tech stuff can I get for free?”
I started poking around, asked some questions, did a little reading, reviewed some old History Tech posts, and came up with a list. And thought you might like a peek: Read more
I really like Flipgrid. It’s easy to use. It’s collaborative. It’s visual. It works across all platforms.
Now it’s free.
Yup. It’s free. And not in the lower tier, fewer options, not as powerful or cool, I can’t afford the Paid version so I’m using the crappy version kind of free. Free as in . . . totally free to access all of the cool, up until a week ago it used to cost money features.
So now I really like Flipgrid.
Here’s the deal. There used to be several versions of Flipgrid. A free version and two expensive versions. And while you could do some really cool stuff with the free, less featured version, the paid versions were so much cooler. As in: you got unlimited grids, unlimited topics, more choices on video length, responses to videos, and replies to those responses. You could move and duplicate grid structure and content. Embed fully-functional grids into other environments such as an LMS or class websites. Assess, document, and provide quantitative and qualitative feedback to individual students in a private, simple way.
You know . . . all the cool stuff. But it cost money.
But several weeks ago, Read more
The video game Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag came about five years ago. And as an avid fan of Assassin’s Creed, my son and his friends were some of the first in line to purchase it. And play it.
If you’re not familiar with the Assassin’s Creed line of video games, they’re basically an action adventure featuring a centuries old struggle between two groups of people – the Assassins, who fight for peace and free will, against the Templars, who believe peace comes through control of humanity. There’s fighting, walking around, some fighting, sneaking around, more fighting, some running, and then some more fighting. Fairly typical video game.
The thing that makes the series a little different than many other action adventure or first person shooter games, is the creators of Assassin’s Creed have been very deliberate about mixing the historical fiction of Assassins vs. Templars with real-world historical events and figures. In Assassin’s Creed III, for example, the setting is the American colonies before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. And there’s a cut scene depicting a version of the Boston Massacre that does a great job of creating the sense of place around that event, perfect for creating a idea of what that event might have looked like and the ambiguity around how the event transpired.
My son experienced the same sort of historical involvement when he was playing Black Flag. Set in the 18th century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy, Black Flag obviously was telling a fictional story. But to be successful in that story, players need to know a lot about what life was like during that period and in that place. I asked him later about his experience: Read more