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Posts tagged ‘historical thinking’

A History Teaching Toolbox: Your next must read

Part of what I get to do is spend time browsing the Interwebs finding tools and resources that would be useful for history and social studies teachers. Sometimes I find new stuff like the very cool Smithsonian Learning Labs and sometimes I just keep going back to the classics.

Russel Tarr is one of the classics. His Active History site (along with his ClassTools and Tarr’s Toolbox) always has some new strategy or tool that I haven’t seen and it’s always something useful. I’m really not sure how he finds time to actually teach but he’s been doing this for almost twenty years.

He has a degree in Modern World History from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University and is currently Head of History at the International School of Toulouse, France. On his free time, he delivers training courses to history teachers in the UK and Europe, writes regularly for the national and international press on historical and educational issues, and is a prominent figure in the educational community on Twitter – where he is one the most followed history teachers in the world.

All of this to say that he knows what he’s talking about. And it just got better. Tarr recently published a book titled A History Teaching Toolbox: Practical Classroom Strategies.

It’s the perfect resource for busy classroom teachers looking for some new strategies with their students. You’re going to find more than 60 tried and tested activities and approaches organized into helpful categories and explained with step-by-step instructions and topic-specific examples to illustrate how they can be used immediately. A History Teaching Toolbox is written for both new and experienced teachers who want to engage their students in high level thinking and problem-based learning activities.

I ordered a copy last week and I’ve been browsing through it this afternoon. It truly is the type of resource that provides activities and suggestions that any 6-12 social studies teacher could implement tomorrow. It would also be a great book for PLCs and history departments – go through a chapter together, try out a few of the ideas, and come back together to tweak and adapt. I’ve posted a few table of content pics below to give you an idea of the scope Tarr covers in A History Teaching Toolbox.

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So you’re gonna want to spend some time at his websites but then head over to Amazon for the old school print. Both totally worth your time.

Tip of the Week: 10 Primary Source Integration Ideas from the Library of Congress (Part Deux)

Three years ago, Mary J. Johnson, an educational consultant to the Library of Congress, created a two part article on the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog highlighting primary source integration strategies. The first post of the two-part series offered ten suggestions for filling your room with engaging primary sources. I’ve adapted her second post highlighting ways that primary sources promote systematic critical thinking and posted it below. These are starting points for you to adapt for your own grade level and content area.

The point? That the Library of Congress needs to be one of your go-tos, must use, constant companion tool of choice.

(And when you’re done here, be sure to head over and bookmark the excellent LOC blog Teaching with the Library of Congress.) Read more

Chronicling America, historical newspapers, and maps

If the Library of Congress Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers website is not already part of your go-to primary sources toolkit, put your coffee down and bookmark it already. Chronicling America is a huge collection of digitized newspapers from around the United States published between 1836 and 1925. There are a variety of ways to search the database but no matter how you search, you get visual reproductions of complete newspaper pages that contain your search terms.

Say you want your students to compare and contrast contemporary accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg. Head over  to the Chronicling America site, adjust the dates to limit the search to 1863, and type in your keywords of “battle gettysburg.” Over 800 results appear.

I will often filter the results by clicking the “Show only front pages” box and now I’m down to around 200. I also usually select the List view rather than the gallery view to start – I can scan more quickly through the list. (Though the gallery view does Read more

MBQs: Using Media Based Questions to support historical thinking

I was having a conversation with my two twenty-something children a few days ago and referenced an old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial. You know the one.

The one where two people, one eating peanut butter and the other chocolate, bump into each other? The one where they’re both heading headphones, listening to their Sony Walkmans, and don’t see each other until it’s too late.

“Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate.” “Hey! You got chocolate in my peanut butter.”

Yeah. My kids obviously didn’t remember either. It’s an ancient ad but I think of it often when we’re talking about app mashups and tweaking tech tools to do things they’re not really designed to do. Cause chocolate and peanut butter is as delicious together as is iMovie and Tellagami.

I shared the Reece reference with my kids because earlier in the day I had spent some time talking Google tools with a group of tech integration coaches. Part of that time was spent exploring the possibilities of mashing up Google My Maps and Forms. And over the last few days, my brain has been going back to different things that we could be doing with Google Forms.

So. Read more

Tip of the Week: More Election Resources Than You’ll Ever Need But Will Probably Look at Anyway

For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.

And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.

Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more

Guest Post: Jill Weber and historical thinking bootcamp

Jill Weber gets it. She’s a middle school teacher honing her craft in Cheney, Kansas and she is rocking it.

Finding the balance between foundational content and process. Problems to solve. Evidence to analyze. No obvious answers. Academic discomfort. Groups to work in. Hands on. Physical movement. Obvious passion for the subject.

She’s one of those teachers that I would have wanted for my own kids to have when they were in middle school. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with her for almost six years.

She jumped in feet first to our second Teaching American History project back in 2010 and then transitioned into the ESSDACK social studies PLC. She was awarded the Kansas Council for the Social Studies 2016 secondary mini-grant and is the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year. And she shares a ton of her stuff on A View of the Web.

One of her recent posts caught my eye and asked if I could re-post it here. I love her idea of starting off the school year with a historical thinking bootcamp. She wants her middle schoolers to understand what they’re getting into and spends six days training her kids in the basics of thinking and reading like historians.

This is the sort of thing that I think all good social studies teachers are doing but I like that Jill has been very intentional about planning for this type of learning to happen. And while her focus is on middle school and Kansas / US history, this is stuff that all of us need to be doing.

So use what you can and adapt where needed but put these ideas into practice. Read more