James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Teaching What Really Happened, had a huge influence on how I began to see my job as a teacher.
My college history professors were incredibly knowledgable but were also incredibly traditional. As in, required purchases from the book store included sets of Xeroxed class notes in outline format – all followed religiously during daily lectures. So I started my career as a middle school teacher without a ton of experience in what research-based learning looked like. And forced my kids to go through some of the same things I went through simply because I didn’t know any better.
With the help of some incredible mentors, I began to see the possibilities of things like inquiry-based learning, primary sources, hands on experiences and the use of tools like games and simulations. And Loewen was a part of that transformation. His books opened my eyes to a different kind of history and a different way to tell stories.
I also began to realize that sometimes the traditional methods and strategies aren’t always the best way to do things. And that we need to be willing to try something new, even if it makes us uncomfortable.
So . . . today? Something new. And it might seem a little strange.
But it comes at the perfect time. The year is wrapping up, your kids leave for the summer, and you’re gonna take a bit of a break. Then it’s back to prepping for next fall – books to read, lessons to preview, strategies to explore – looking for tools that can help your kids. Adding this to your summer research to-do list will change how your classroom looks next August.
Badges. Read more
If you haven’t been over to the Barat Education Foundation and their Primary Sources Nexus site . . . well, you need to. Cause they’ve been doing awesome stuff since 2000 supporting education and social justice that empower teachers and students.
And now, thanks to a grant from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program, BEF is focused on integrating civics across the curriculum. Collaborating with the Constitutional Rights Foundation and DePaul University, BEF created the Citizen U curriculum. These grades 3-12 inquiry-based lessons are designed to encourage and instill skills vital for civic literacy and success in the 21st century, including collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, information literacy, problem-solving, leadership, and social responsibility.
They’re all aligned to standards, use primary sources from the Library of Congress, and are designed to develop and activate students’ civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
What they need is you. They’re looking for Read more
How great is the Smithsonian? Seriously. Take a few minutes to think about all the teaching goodness that they provide. Learning Lab. History Explorer. Lesson plans. Podcasts. Webcasts. It goes on and on.
But there’s always been a bit of old school in me. So I still subscribe to the print version of the Smithsonian magazine. Yes. You can get many of the print articles at the online version but I like turning pages.
The problem, of course, is between online versions of things and print versions of things, I’m always playing catch-up with my reading schedule. The March Smithsonian just now just made it to the top of the pile and I was blown away by an article by Abigail Tucker.
Titled A 21st-Century Reimagining of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, the article focuses on the question: Read more
Okay. I don’t want kids to hate social studies. Let’s be clear about that from the get go. But . . . I also think that we sometimes fall off the wagon on the other end by working way too hard trying to find activities that our kids will enjoy or projects that are “engaging.”
It’s been almost ten years since I first heard Sam Wineburg speak. I had read his book Thinking Historically and Other Unnatural Acts. Read some of his early articles on historical thinking skills and loved his ideas about how we needed to re-think our approach to teaching history. But it wasn’t until a combined Kansas / Missouri Council for History Education conference way back in 2008 that I first heard him speak. He opened the conference with a keynote highlighting the main ideas in his book.
And now, of course, he’s a future social studies Hall of Famer having helped to swing the pendulum of social studies instruction over to something more focused on a balance of both content and process.
But something he said back in 2008 has stuck with me: Read more
Kara Knight from Minnesota History Society and the Inquiry in the Upper Midwest has perhaps created one of the most intriguing conference session titles ever.
What’s not to like about Primary Source Speeding Dating? And her tagline is even better: Discover the Primary Source of your Dreams – Finding the Perfect Match.
I think we can all agree that finding and using primary sources as part of teaching and learning is a no-brainer. But the actual finding and using can be a pain in the butt. It takes time to find the right source and it takes time to figure out how best to use those sources. So during this #MCSS2018 session, we talked about ways to match classroom needs, brain research, and just the right primary source.
We ended the session with an activity Kara called Primary Source Speed Dating. It’s a bit like Read more
Scott Noet and Kim Gilman (my good buddy from Shawnee, Kansas) met as Goethe TOP Fellows several years ago. And now they’re partnering up to share some of their best ideas about how to move students from analysis to action using STEM activities.
Kim says that we spend a ton of time focusing on helping kids to perfect their analysis skills. Nothing wrong with that. But we can’t forget that we also need to be helping kids take action – to actually using their analysis skills to make the world a better place.
I especially love a couple of things they shared: Read more