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Posts tagged ‘historical thinking’

DB Quest: The latest super sweet tool from iCivics and Library of Congress

A few days ago, I bragged on one of the latest Library of Congress interactive tools titled CaseMaker. Part of the Teaching with Primary Sources project, CaseMaker joined the three earlier tools that rolled out last year.

But wait. There’s more. Called DBQuest and developed by the awesome people over at iCivics, this fifth tool helps you teach history and civics through the use of primary-based documents and evidence-based learning. The multi-platform app teaches students how to make sense of evidence, contextualize information, and make and support claims using evidence-based arguments.

In DBQuest, students are provided with Read more

Library of Congress adds awesome new tools. Today? Case Maker.

A year or so ago, the Library of Congress introduced three new apps that focused on civics and the use of primary sources. Eagle Eye CitizenEngaging Congress and Kid Citizen were developed through the LOC’s Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program.

All three are awesome. And the Library could have smugly sat back in its La-Z-Boy and called it good. But they didn’t. They went out, grabbed the folks from iCivics and Bean Creative, and developed two new apps that build civic and historical thinking skills in your students.

Lee Ann Potter, director of the Educational Outreach division at the Library of Congress:

Together, these new applications are a valuable addition to the suite of civics-related tools that our partners have developed. The ability to weigh evidence and build a sound argument is crucial to informed civic participation, and we are happy to see the effective and engaging ways in which the interactives use primary source documents to build these vital skills.

The two latest apps, Case Maker and DBQuest, provide opportunities for students to investigate complex questions from some of the most dramatic turning points in U.S. history and immerse them in conversations around those events.

Today, we’ll dig into Read more

You want kids to have skills. Read Inquire Write can help.

Last week, I got the chance to work with about 25 teachers and educators from around the state as we started the process of revising our state social studies standards. Long time readers will recall a similar process from seven years ago.

At the time, the Kansas state standards were very much the same as other state level standards documents. The focus was on the details of history – people and places and dates. Assessments tried to incorporate critical thinking but since the entire test was multiple choice, it was difficult to measure high levels of thinking and problem solving.

To be successful on this type of high stakes state assessment, teachers shifted to a drill and kill,  memorize specific pieces of content out of context instructional strategies. These strategies increased test scores but lowered student engagement, failed to create critical thinkers, and didn’t prepare kids to become informed citizens.

So we started from scratch.

The 2011 process resulted in a brand new set of standards that shifted instructional focus from memorizing details to one that encouraged analyzing evidence, solving problems, and sharing solutions. We created five big ideas that acted as our standards. We adapted reading, writing, and communication expectations and instruction best practices to guide local curriculum development. And we left the specific content up to each district.

Teachers appreciated the freedom to focus on the doing of social studies rather than asking kids to memorize minutiae. But this “new” style of teaching can be time consuming and difficult. The old standards had trained both our kids and our teachers that drill and kill was acceptable – now we were asking that instruction and assessment look different.

And teachers had questions. What does this sort of teaching look like? How do you assess the learning? How long should it take? If we don’t have to “cover”so much content, what content is important enough to focus on? What resources are available?

Back in 2013, as the revised document rolled out, there weren’t a ton of examples and resources out there that supported this kind of inquiry based teaching model. But around the country, others were having similar conversations:

Things got better.

And now, if you’re looking for examples, resources, lessons, student samples, and rubrics, things are looking even rosier. Read more

Not using DocsTeach!? We need to talk.

Okay. I know some of you are using DocsTeach.

And why not?

Using primary sources from its collection, the crack National Archives education staff has been creating and sharing quality lessons for eight years. The idea at DocsTeach is simple – provide high-quality lessons and activities based on primary sources and focused on building historical and critical thinking skills.

You can borrow from an ever-expanding collection of document based activities built by National Archives specialists and teachers around the world. Use or modify ready-made activities. Craft, save, and share your own using online tools like these:

  • Analyzing Documents
  • Zoom/Crop
  • Compare and Contrast
  • White Out/Black Out
  • Making Connections
  • Mapping History
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Weighing the Evidence

Whether you use the pre-made activities or creating your own, DocsTeach is perfect for classroom demos, small group or whole class work, and individual in-class or homework assignments. Your kids can return their work via your DocsTeach account, Google Classroom, or the DocsTeach App for iPad.

Did we mention that it’s free?

So . . . seriously. If you’re not using DocsTeach, you and I need to chat. Cause it’s awesome and Read more