Many of you are already aware of the Stanford History Education Group’s fantastic resources called Reading Like a Historian and Beyond the Bubble. If you’re not, you need to be.
Using his own ideas and research on what historical thinking looks like, Sam Wineburg and his staff created some incredibly useful lessons and assessments and started giving them away for free. Good stuff.
Each lesson starts with a compelling question, provides primary evidence, and asks students to use historical thinking skills to solve the problem. This sort of work is exactly what our state standards and what the National Council for the Social Studies encourages.
As more teachers are using the tools, one thing they’re asking is how the SHEG lessons and assessments fit into specific grade levels and Common Core literacy levels.
And now thanks to the Los Angeles school district, your wish has come true. Read more
The shift is on. We’re moving beyond simple rote memorization and direct instruction to a more hands on, interactive and evidence-based learning method. We want kids to solve problems and communicate solutions.
That’s a good thing.
But as we all get better at giving kids problems to solve and asking them to use evidence to solve those problems, it’s easy to focus on certain types of evidence. Diaries. Journals. Speeches. Photos. Maps. You know . . . the basic types of primary source documents many of you having been using forever. Absolutely nothing wrong with those types of evidence. Heck, secondary sources work too.
What can start to happen, though, is that we rely too much on the old reliables and never ask kids to use more complicated kinds of things. And one type of evidence that we need to start using more is the huge amount of public data that is available. Statistics. Population numbers. Demographical data. Movement of people and materials. This kind of stuff is perfect for creating authentic problems and encouraging creative solutions by your students.
The problem, of course, is that the data has been hard to access and even harder to make sense of. But there is a solution. Right there in plain sight. Most of us just missed it. Read more
Several months ago, I had the privilege to keynote the online Digging Deeper into Primary Sources conference hosted by the South Dakota State Library. The conference was a full day of conversations about why and how we should be using primary sources as part of our instruction.
Teachers, South Dakota library staff, and Library of Congress archivists shared a ton of great ideas and suggestions. Dr. Peggy O’Neill-Jones shared her thoughts on different strategies for document analysis, there were multiple lightning rounds of 15 minute presentations, and author Jean Patrick finished the day with a session titled Footnotes and Phone Calls: My Life as Nonfiction Detective. Everyone walked away smarter than when they walked in.
The cool thing is that the South Dakota library folks archived everything so you can pretend that you were a part of the day. Hand over to their site to harvest all the goodies.
But while we all agree that using primary sources is a good thing, I am often accused (and perhaps rightfully so) of not sharing enough world history resources. And so, for your viewing and teacher pleasure on a beautiful Friday afternoon, ten resources for finding world history primary sources: Read more
It’s actually 149 maps. But I figured that was just a bit of overkill in the title. To be completely transparent, it’s really five different articles about five different topics that all focus on very cool and interesting maps to tell a story.
So you can pick and choose.
Middle school US history teacher? There’s a little bit of the Civil War in there. High school world history? Yup. We’ve got some WWI and WWII. Ancient? Rome and Middle East, covered.
But . . . I can hear a few of you now.
Glenn. I know you love a good map. But what can I, a classroom teacher, do with that many maps? How can these be incorporated into my instruction? And somehow make it about historical thinking?
Well . . . first of all, we’ve already decided that 149 is a big number so don’t use all of the maps. Pick and choose the ones that best fit your specific end in mind and content. And second, remember that one of the best ways to engage the brain and to hook students on content is to create an intriguing problem. Look for a map or two or three that creates a sense of “academic discomfort” – something that doesn’t seem to make sense. Or maybe combine a few maps together to create a narrative that can lead kids in a certain direction.
We’ve used Google aerial photos to hook world history kids before. We can use a similar strategy with middle school US.
So how about this? Read more
What does it look like when we combine inquiry learning with geography? What resources are available? Check out some ideas and materials below:
Inquiry lesson examples:
Geography: Read more
Several days ago, I wrote a quick post highlighting an article from The Atlantic titled The Problem with History Classes. In it, author Michael Conway suggests that traditional social studies instruction which focuses on the “right” answers doesn’t allow for enough academic discomfort. Social studies teachers need to go beyond basic foundational knowledge and create a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty in how things are going to work out.
One suggestion from Conway? If our students really are going to learn and master historical thinking skills, it is “absolutely essential that they read a diverse set of historians” and learn how a variety of historians who are scrutinizing the same topic can reach different conclusions.
But what can that look like? You may want to try an activity using hexagons – it’s an activity that can help your students grapple with historical viewpoints and start to understand connections between them.
The concept has been around for a while with lots of teachers using hexagons as part of a larger idea called SOLO. The basic idea is that Read more