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Posts tagged ‘historical thinking’

2016 #SOTU, word clouds, blackout poetry, and thinking historically

“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Article II, Section 3, US Constitution

Back in the day, George Washington delivered the first state of the union address to Congress in New York City in 1790. Thomas Jefferson believed that a face to face version was too much King George the IIIish and so began sending written reports instead. Other presidents followed suit with the report being read to Congress by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson re-started the face to face idea in 1913.

Other #SOTU trivia?

Jimmy Carter delivered the last written message to Congress in 1981. Of course, it was also the longest message at over 33,000 words, so maybe that was a good thing. Nixon’s 1972 speech was the shortest at just over 28 minutes.

But enough poly sci nerd talk. How best to use last night’s festivities? Some quick thoughts:
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Don’t be a dog person

I’m a dog person. I can get along with cats if I have to but all my life, it’s been dogs. My first dog, shared with my five brothers and sisters, was a German Shepard / Collie mix named Tuffy. And just so you know, Tuffy was the best dog ever.

Several years ago, my wife and I adopted a rescue dog that we named Rowdie. Rowdie’s a Jack Russell who is currently running a very close second to best dog ever. Definitely way better than a cat.

Cats ignore you, are snooty, and absolutely refuse to roll over and play dead.

But I said something like that once to a person who owned cats and was quickly put in my place: Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #2: Don’t be that guy. You know . . . that guy. The Trivia Crack guy.

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 the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

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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?

I followed the same pattern. Lecture. (Though I did make an allowance for my middle schoolers by putting my notes on the overhead. And yes. It was the kind that had a roll of plastic that I cranked to bring up more of my carefully crafted outline.) Quiz. Worksheet. Test.

Because I thought that was what good teaching looked like.

But the longer I taught like that, the more confused I got. A few of my kids did great. Straight As. Most did average at best. And the rest? Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #6: Back to school ideas for social studies teachers

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 the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

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We have two very simple unbendable, unbreakable rules in our house. No Christmas music allowed before Thanksgiving. No talking about school before August.

It’s August. So . . . we’re talking about school.

Spoiler alert.

If you’re not already at school, you’re heading there soon.

You probably already knew that. And you probably already have some idea of what you and your students will be doing during the first few days of school. But it’s always nice to have a few extra tips and tricks in your bookbag to start off the school year.

So today? The sixth annual Back to School Ideas in a Social Studies Classroom post. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Add your own ideas in the comments.

What not to do

Before we get to the good stuff, it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t work. Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #7: 5 under-appreciated Google tools for teaching Social Studies

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 the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

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Is there a better way to start the week than by spending all day talking and learning about more effective ways to do social studies? You’re right. There isn’t. I had the sweet chance to spend yesterday with a small group of social studies teachers as we discussed ways to use five under-appreciated Google tools to teach social studies.

Most of us are familiar with the typical Google tools: Search, Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms. Been there. Done that. But there are lots of other very cool tools that often slide in under the radar that we need to be using. And I’m convinced that the following Google goodies will make your life easier and your students smarter. Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #8: Using evidence and primary analysis worksheets

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 the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

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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?

Don’t worry so much about primary vs. secondary sources. Start thinking about evidence, about data, instead of focusing just on one sort of document over another. Because if we’re asking great questions, kids will be using all sorts of documents and sources to solve the problem.

I’ve always tried to preach the idea of having kids answer great questions and using a variety of evidence to help them answer those questions. So it’s not just primary sources. It needs to be all sorts of evidence – so kids might need to be using secondary sources. That might be tertiary sources such as a textbook or Wikipedia.

But kids are still using evidence and data to solve the problem. We need to be training our kids how to use that evidence – evaluating, sourcing, and asking questions about audience and purpose. So it’s not really about training them so that they can read primary sources after they graduate – it’s about the long term . . . training them to make better decisions because they now have the ability to evaluate evidence and ask good questions about all sorts of things: Read more

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