We all know that I spent a significant amount of my formative years digging through old National Geographic maps. You know the ones I’m talking about. They got slipped into the middle of the magazine and unfolded into poster size after you discovered them. I still have an old shoebox full of them. Cause they’re just so cool.
So it shouldn’t surprise any of you that an online article about maps, especially one from National Geographic, is going to catch my attention. But before we head over to take a look, a quick geography mental map quiz.
First step, create a mental map of the world. (If you’ve got a few extra minutes and some paper and pencil, feel free to draw it out.)
Mental map ready?
Okay . . . based on your mental (or actual) map of the world, answer a few simple questions:
- How much of South America is east of Miami, Florida?
- How much of Africa is north of the equator?
- Which city is located further north – Paris, France or Montreal, Canada?
- Venice, Italy is located at the same latitude of what major American city?
- Which is bigger? The lower 48 United States or Brazil?
I can’t remember where I first learned about hexagons in the classrooms. But I’ve loved them ever since I started exploring the idea. If you’re already using hexagons, good on you. You are excused. (Though feel free to hang around for a quick refresher and maybe a couple of new tools.)
If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, you’re in the right place.
Using hexagonal thinking in the social studies classroom is a way for students to think about and understand connections between ideas, people, places, dates, events – basically all the stuff we’re asking our kids to mess with while they’re in our classrooms. Hexagons are a perfect tool or creating intentional conversations between students and content. They give you a great tool to encourage deep and critical thinking about the foundational knowledge that make up the discipline.
Why are they perfect?
A hexagon can connect with six other hexagons. And those six can connect with even more. So when you put a bunch of ideas or events, people or places on a bunch of hexagons and pass them out to different groups of kids, every conversation and every set of connections will be different, even though the decks of hexagons they received are all the same. The discussions that develop will go in all sorts of directions, with kids asking questions and justifying their connections with evidence. And this works in all the social studies disciplines.
The basic idea? Read more
Inquiry is one of the biggest buzz words in the social studies world. And it should be. Having kids use evidence to solve problems is a great way to build foundational knowledge while encouraging critical thinking skills. About I year ago, I ran across a great resource designed specifically to help teachers use and develop there own inquiry based lessons.
So today it’s Throwback Thursday.
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You’re looking to create an Inquiry Design Model lesson and need some resources. Maybe you and your kids are getting ready to start a problem-based project. Perhaps you need some really good thinking or writing prompts. Or four or five engaging primary sources to add to your instructional unit.
Where do you go to find what you’re looking for? What’s your go to?
The Library of Congress, National Archives, and SHEG are my top three. But I’ve got a new favorite.
Developed by the folks at Maryland Public Television, the Maryland Department of Education, and the Maryland Humanities Council with funding from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program, the recently created Social Studies Inquiry Kits give you access to great questions and powerful primary sources.
Each kit contains three guiding questions, five primary sources, and one secondary source. The Inquiry Kits are designed specifically to help as you plan your instruction. We know that it can be hard to work with primary sources in many of our classrooms. Sources are often not accessible, because of illegible text, high reading level, or simply a lack of interest on the part of students.
So how can Inquiry Kits help? Read more
I thought I knew the Smithsonian History Explorer. I’ve been using it and recommending it for years. But I was wrong. I don’t know the Smithsonian History Explorer.
Not like I should know it. Cause they’ve changed and updated it.
So if you teach US history (or even world), you seriously need to head over and do some poking around. The staff from the Smithsonian Museum of American History has added so many new resources, lessons, activities, and themes, I guarantee you’ll walk away with all sorts of stuff you can incorporate into your instruction tomorrow.
Start by using the Read more
Well, it’s been a while.
Between some unplanned family obligations and a variety of work related stuff, History Tech got pushed off the front burner, then the back burner, and eventually ended up somewhere into one of those cabinets where you store Tupperware bowls that are missing a lid.
This week we’re crawling out of the cabinet and onto the back burner at least. But . . . we missed sharing start of school resources. Missed National Women’s Suffrage Month. Missed the kickoff of the very awesome Kansas state social studies virtual PD series that is replacing the equally awesome but Covid-19 canceled F2F state conference. Missed the kickoff of the election. Missed a bunch of stuff.
So we’re gonna start small today. Just a quick website recommendation designed especially for K-5 teachers who are looking for resources and ideas for helping their kids understand historical inquiry. Read more
This morning, I was poking around in the History Tech archives looking for some research on the best way to integrate literature into social studies instruction. And as often happens, I got sucked down a rabbit hole and ran across a different article I wrote five years ago and forgotten all about.
With the uncertainty of the next few months and the changes we’re being asked to make, the message seems appropriate to share today. Simply put, what we’ve always done in the past probably isn’t going to work today. Traditional types of instruction like 45 minute lectures or packets of worksheets asking kids to copy and paste answers from a textbook have never been good for kids. They become even less useful in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
A silver lining in what we’re all experiencing right now is that we have permission to do social studies differently. And not just permission. Depending on where you teach, you’ve got active support and encouragement from the powers on high to really rethink our instruction. (In Kansas, the state ed department published a 1000 page document detailing what that might look like. Feel free to jump in on that.)
Will it be easy? Nope.
Is it something we need to do? Yes . . . absolutely.
I’ve edited the five year old post a bit to update the resources at the end. But the message remains the same. Holding on to what we know won’t work is not doing our kids any favors. Be willing to lean into the hard work ahead, throw out the old, and embrace a situation with literally no walls that allows you the freedom to do all sorts of amazing things.
I knew the day was coming. There is a fairly extensive Read more