First things first. If you haven’t hung out at Russell Tarr’s Toolbox, you need to head over there when we’re finished here. Russell has been creating and sharing cool tools for social studies teachers forever and it’s all incredibly handy stuff. (You might have run across Russell’s ideas before on his Active History or ClassTools.net sites.)
About a month ago, I was on his site and ran across something that I thought was very cool. I’d been searching for ideas on how to help elementary kids source evidence. You know – author, date created, audience, intent, the sort of questions that are the foundation of historical thinking.
My goto strategy has been one shared by the Library of Congress that helps kids all the way down to kindergarten start the process of historical thinking – by training them to ask questions about primary sources. The LOC example focuses on the idea of Read more
I used to be that guy. The Trivia Crack guy. It was all I knew.
Lecture. Have kids outline the lecture. Grade the notes, hoping for just about any sort of organizational structure. Quizzes along the way. Maybe a worksheet. Throw in a map to color. Test at the end of the chapter.
Most of my own history instruction followed this pattern. And I was great at this sort of stuff. 105 Kansas counties? No problem. When did Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address? Yup. I got that. Causes of World War One? MAIN acronym. Boom.
And if you’re old enough to remember the analog Trivia Crack version called Trivia Pursuit, you’re gonna have to trust me – I owned that game. Seriously. Steve Schmidt and I were unbeatable.
(Don’t know about Trivia Crack? Stay away. Stay far, far away.)
So when I became a teacher? Read more
“What thoughtful, intelligent people do with their brains is to mull over inconsistency. When two ideas are in conflict and you have to struggle to make sense of that conflict, that is when thinking starts.”
One of the many topics that a group of teachers and I messed with earlier this week was the idea of using debates in class. How can we set up activities during which kids support specific positions using evidence – which is good – without having the debate disintegrate into emotional arguing – which is bad?
Civil discourse. Evidence-based discussion. Consensus building. Solving problems together.
Yelling. Emotion-based arguments. Talk show pundits acting like children. Winners and losers. No solutions.
And you gotta know . . . Read more
I always enjoy the annual social studies nerd fest that is the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference. I learn a ton and I love the sessions. But it’s the chance to meet all kinds of people that I enjoy the most.
It seems like I’m always bumping into someone I know or someone who knows someone I know. Or . . . well, if you’ve had the chance to attend you understand. The people make the conference.
And it was in St. Louis in 2013 that I got the chance to meet some folks from the Center for Children and Technology, a division of the Education Development Center. The CCT people were there talking about a new online tool called Zoom In! and I happened past their booth in the vendor area.
My first impression?
Two words. Game changer.
Seriously. If you’re a middle or high school US history teacher, this is something that you need to try. I’m not kidding. Read more
The big push nowadays in the social studies world is using evidence and authentic problems to train kids to think historically. We want students to go beyond just simple rote memorization. To be successful citizens, they need the skills to look at a problem from all sides, collect evidence, analyze the evidence, and develop a solution to the problem.
Of course, if you’ve tried this, you already know that the process of training kids to do this is not easy. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen but it really can be narrowed down to a few things:
- creating authentic problems
- finding evidence for kids to analyze
- instructional strategies that teach them how to use that evidence
And I’m discovering that a lot of teachers especially struggle with the last two. Though there are tons of print and online primary / secondary sources around, it can be difficult and time-consuming trying to track them all down. It can also be hard finding different teaching strategies that are effective.
So today a little of both. Read more
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, and enjoying the occasional nap.
Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read some of the top posts of 2014. I may decide to jump in with something current but if I don’t, enjoy this Holiday Goodie rerun.
There’s a cool buzz running through the history education world.
Primary sources. Documents. Using evidence. Solving problems. Historical thinking. And that’s a good thing. But I know that it can be difficult sometimes trying to figure out how to use primary sources.
First piece of advice? Read more