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Posts tagged ‘historical thinking’

Tip of the Week: Bias, civic literacy, and historical thinking skills

Back when my youngest was in fourth grade, I asked her to preview the very cool You Are the Historian website. It’s an interactive tool that asks elementary kids to use historical thinking skills while addressing the site’s guiding question: What really happened at the first Thanksgiving?

The site led her through primary sources, to video clips of colonial historians, and to the exploration of different artifacts. After she was finished, I asked her what she learned by “playing” the game:

The past is what really happened. History is what we say happened.

I couldn’t have been prouder. That’s exactly what I hoped to hear. (And good job, BTW, You Are the Historian creators.)

History is our interpretation of evidence.

We have a problem. We look at evidence. And we figure it out. But I’m not always sure that we’re teaching our kids how to do that very well. Part of the problem is bias. We don’t always make it clear enough that everything we have our kids use to solve the problems we give them is biased.

And just as there is no such thing as unbiased primary evidence, there is no such thing as unbiased secondary evidence. All news, photos, media sites, books – it’s all biased.

Need a few examples? Read more

5 New Year’s resolutions every social studies teacher should make

Yes. I am aware that most New Year’s resolutions are made a bit closer to New Year’s Day. But it’s still January, so I figure I’m good.

The good news is that a 2009 study found that 46% of participants who made New Year’s resolutions were likely to succeed – over ten times as much as those who decided to make similar decisions during other times of the year.

So . . . it’s not too late to make a few 2018 social studies resolutions. And I’m a big believer in constant self-evaluation. As in asking myself questions about my current practice: What’s working? What’s not? What should I change? What do my students need? What resource needs to be phased out? The middle of the school is a perfect time for those sorts of questions.

In that spirit, here are five New Year’s resolutions every social studies teacher should make: Read more

Civil Rights Virtual Learning Journey is now available

It seems appropriate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to share a new resource highlighting the Civil Rights Movement.

Created by the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Public Broadcasting company, the Civil Rights Virtual Learning Journey transports students to a critical period of time in our history. The site is loaded with comprehensive content including 14 videos, primary source images and documents, compelling photo galleries, interactive maps, artwork, music, and more. The collection invites students into an engaging exploration of some of the most significant events of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Civil Rights Virtual Learning Journey explores seven themes and their topics: Read more

Best posts 2017: Fake news is why you exist. 12 tools that can help

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much Chex Mix, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read seven of the most popular History Tech posts from 2017. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


Okay. Basic question.

“If I asked you to describe what you do every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Let me rephrase that a bit.

“If I asked you to describe what you should be doing every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Here’s my point. I think that we can get so caught up in the everyday that we sometimes forget why we exist. Grading papers. Taking roll. Going to meetings. Calling parents. Trying to keep middle school kids from setting things on fire. That’s a typical day in your life. I get that.

But I’m going to suggest today that we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

What’s the prize? Why do we exist? Read more

Social Studies Central teaching tools: These products can help!

One of the most enjoyable things I get to do is finding things that make life better and easier for teachers and students. Sometimes those things are online sites and tools. Sometimes those things are ideas that teachers share. And sometimes those things are products that are created here at ESSDACK.

Today I want to share three products that we’ve designed specifically to support social studies teachers in their own professional learning and as they teach historical thinking skills. Our goal is simple – find ways to help teachers learn in non-traditional ways. For years at ESSDACK, we’ve worked to create quality face-to-face professional learning opportunities.

But we also want to offer tools and products that encourage you to learn and work where and when is best for you. So I’ve created a few products that you can use as Read more