This morning, I was poking around in the History Tech archives looking for some research on the best way to integrate literature into social studies instruction. And as often happens, I got sucked down a rabbit hole and ran across a different article I wrote five years ago and forgotten all about.
With the uncertainty of the next few months and the changes we’re being asked to make, the message seems appropriate to share today. Simply put, what we’ve always done in the past probably isn’t going to work today. Traditional types of instruction like 45 minute lectures or packets of worksheets asking kids to copy and paste answers from a textbook have never been good for kids. They become even less useful in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
A silver lining in what we’re all experiencing right now is that we have permission to do social studies differently. And not just permission. Depending on where you teach, you’ve got active support and encouragement from the powers on high to really rethink our instruction. (In Kansas, the state ed department published a 1000 page document detailing what that might look like. Feel free to jump in on that.)
Will it be easy? Nope.
Is it something we need to do? Yes . . . absolutely.
I’ve edited the five year old post a bit to update the resources at the end. But the message remains the same. Holding on to what we know won’t work is not doing our kids any favors. Be willing to lean into the hard work ahead, throw out the old, and embrace a situation with literally no walls that allows you the freedom to do all sorts of amazing things.
I knew the day was coming. There is a fairly extensive Read more
I love Loom.
Simple to use. Simple to share. It’s free for teachers and kids. And it works great for both face to face classrooms and remote learning environments.
If you’re already a Loommate and love using Loom too, you may be in the wrong place. This post is for Loom newbies and how we can use the tool as part of effective social studies instruction. So feel free to browse through a list of History Tech posts highlighting historical thinking resources and strategies. (But you’re not gonna hurt my feelings if you skip past the quick Loom introduction and scroll down for the tips.)
Loom is a free, ready to use screencast recording tool. What’s a screencast recording tool? Basically it’s a button you push that records your screen while at the same time recording your face and voice, saving them all together in a downloadable and shareable format. And it does all of that in a matter of seconds.
Need a quick example? Read more
Several years ago, I posted a quick article highlighting the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. It was a good reminder for me about the power and impact of executive orders. As you begin to plan for the upcoming school year, don’t shy away from using primary sources like photographs that document uncomfortable topics. Lean into them.
Today? A Monday Memory flashback post from 2017.
You all know photographer Dorothea Lange. If not Dorothea herself, you’ll recognize her famous candid photos taken during the 1930s highlighting the struggles of Americans suffering during the Great Depression. Her iconic Migrant Mother and the series of photos around that image depict the desperation many felt during the period.
Later in 1942, she was hired by the US government to capture images of the relocation of Japanese-Americans affected by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Thousands of American citizens were being stripped of their civil liberties, their businesses, and their homes before being placed in internment camps scattered around the country.
Lange was originally opposed to the idea but accepted the task because she thought “a true record of the evacuation would be valuable in the future.” But after reviewing her photographs and their portrayal of the Japanese American experience, the military became concerned how the images of the internment program would be received by the public.
So government leaders Read more
I wrote this post about 18 months ago.
Back during the Before Times.
Back when, you know, things were normal and not so fricking . . . not normal. At the time, along with some amazing social studies rock stars, I got the chance to review and update the state standards document. That revised document was approved by the state board just days before all of this fricking . . . not normal stuff started. And I do think this newly approved, just rolled out document is better. It focuses on process while providing flexibility for local districts to decide on specific content.
And in many ways, it’s a fairly radical departure from what many state level standard documents look like. It’s got some suggestions on broad ideas and themes, some ideas on grade level scope and sequence. But no required history minutiae. No specific dates. Or people. Or events. We wanted kids to walk away with critical thinking skills that they can apply in a variety of contexts.
But now I’m curious.
If we had known then what we know now, would we have created something even more revisionist? As in, as the educational system is shifting towards a more blended, hybrid learning environment – one focused on problem-based learning, on a competency-based model rather than seat time – do the standards need to be pared down even more?
What truly is important for social studies students to know and be able to do? And do we even call them social studies students any more? Would Humanities students make more sense?
This Wayback Wednesday post focuses on 2018 Washington Post article that asked seven history gurus a simple question:
What are the most important things young people should be learning in school today?
Your homework is simple. Answer the question: Read more
School looks different today than it did back in 2017 when I first wrote this. But I think in many ways it applies more now than three years ago.
Why? Because it’s easy right now to revert back to the familiar. To what’s comfortable for us. But the situation teachers and students and families are in right now lends itself to innovation and change and problem based learning. To exploration and virtual reality and primary sources and datasets and all sorts of things that we know are good for kids.
So here it is. A Wayback Wednesday History Tech re-do.
And I know you may not be in the right place for this right now. I get that. If that’s you, I’m good. File this away then for next fall – it’ll still be here.
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Shocker. Lecturing to students puts them to sleep.
Who could have guessed?
Well . . . I should have. But I didn’t. During my first few years as a middle school teacher and later, during some time I spent teaching in a college social science department, I lectured.
Early on, I didn’t know better. I was taught that way in both K-12 and in my college content courses. There were no real alternatives provided in my ed classes. And I started teaching long before established mentor programs got cranked up. Lecturing in a social studies class was just the way things were done.
By the time I had moved on to higher ed, Read more
I can’t find it now but I ran across some research a year or so ago that suggested that 70-80% of all conversations in K-12 classrooms is teacher to student. As in . . . we can’t stop talking long enough to let our kids get a word in edgewise.
Since I can’t find the research, I’m not going to include it in this quick post on ways to encourage student conversation and discussion. If I had found it, I would say that teachers talk too much and that we need to find more ways to support student to student and student to teacher and student to content conversations. But I haven’t be able to find that research so I wouldn’t think of suggesting that probably 70% of the time, we talk too much. 70-80%. Can you believe it? It must be hard as a student to sit through a whole class period when the teacher is really the only one who gets to talk and who is the only one who gets to explore the primary sources and to solve the problem that they started the class with and then the bell rings.
So. What can we do to increase student conversation and encourage discussion? There are a few ideas out there. Read more