Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘historical thinking’

Live blog #mcss17: Inspiring Local Learners in a Global Community

Two words that you really don’t want to hear in the same sentence:

            Minnesota / February

As in, “Hey. I can’t wait to travel to Minnesota in the middle of February.”

But when the two involve the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies annual conference, I’ll risk it. Lots of great people in Minnesota doing some awesome things in the social studies and I am honored to be a part of it. (My session on 3D History is later this afternoon – I’ll post a few details from that preso later this evening.)

I’ll be live blogging throughout the day on some of the cool stuff I’m learning. So be sure to refresh.

Opening Keynote
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Secretary Simon highlighted the importance of what social studies teachers do every day by sharing examples of how well Minnesota participates in elections

 We are voters. We work hard at building civic engagement.

The state is the number one state in voter turnout nine of the last 10 elections because of “laws and culture.” He highlighted the efforts that Minnesota makes to ensure that voter registration is as easy as possible with same day and online voter registration. Simon also discussed how early and absentee voting is encouraged.

The state also works hard to encourage kids to vote. I like how Simon talked about how getting younger kids to participate takes more than just using idealistic arguments such as “it’s good for the country” and “it’s your patriotic duty.” Simon suggests that we need to also encourage younger voters to participate also based on self interest and “to be part of something.” That kids need to be encouraged to vote and participate because it will make their lives, and the lives of people they know, better. So Minnesota uses a massive outreach program into the school system to support this sort of civic engagement.

He shared the saying on a tee shirt:  “Choosing not to vote isn’t a sign of rebellion, it’s a sign of surrender.” They work very hard to help kids understand that participating is the smarter choice.

And with the highest rate of voter turnout anywhere in the US, Read more

America in Class

The National Humanities Center is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. And it’s got some handy resources that they’ve housed at a site called America in Class that has primary and secondary resources, webinars, and lessons for history and literature teachers.

According to the site, it’s designed to promote the analytical skills called for in the Common Core ELA / Literacy standards in History/Social Studies:

  • identifying and evaluating textual evidence,
  • determining central ideas,
  • understanding the meanings of words,
  • comprehending the structure of a text,
  • recognizing an author’s point of view, and
  • interpreting content presented in diverse media, including visual images.

You can find a variety of things at American in Class: Read more

It’s a podcast part duex! Darren, Ashley, and the incredible Smithsonian Learning Lab

Last week, we published Part One of my conversation with Darren Milligan and Ashley Naranjo from the Smithsonian Learning Lab.

Today? Part Two.

Quick review:

Read more

It’s a podcast! Darren, Ashley, and the incredible Smithsonian Learning Lab

I had the opportunity to run into Ashley Naranjo and Darren Milligan last summer at the 2016 ISTE conference during their rollout of the new Smithsonian Learning Lab. And I was blown away. Seriously.

And, yes, Ashley and Darren were incredible. They’ve got the chops. But it was the Learning Lab and all of its cool tools that really got me fired up. I was literally writing a blog post during their presentation.

At the time, I said:

This will change how you and your kids collect, organize, share, and analyze primary evidence. It is seriously that good.

And after getting the chance to talk with them via Skype two days ago, I remain blown away. The Smithsonian Learning Lab truly can and should change how we do our jobs. At its core, the Lab is an online storage facility for 2,000,000 Smithsonian primary sources that gives you the opportunity to access those sources, organize them into collections, and share those collections with students.

And wait for it.

Your kids can do the same thing. So whether it’s you who creates the collection or your students do it, the Lab is a powerful way of curating resources. And it’s done in a beautiful, image driven environment that encourages users to make sense of the past and apply it to contemporary issues in ways not possible even five years ago.

So if you haven’t had a chance to experience the sweetness that is the Learning Lab, Read more

History, Art, and Archives of the House of Representatives (and the Senate)

I’m a member of a semi-active Facebook group that was started several years ago following the final session of the Century of Progress TAH project. The group was an attempt by project participants to stay somewhat connected and supported after three years of working together.

We were able to develop a face-to-face PLC that meets four times a year and the Facebook group continues to act as a sort of digital conversation space. Most of us aren’t super active, simply lurking around and picking up the helpful tidbits posted by the few truly active members of the group.

One of those truly active members is Nathan McAlister, middle school teacher at Royal Valley MS. The 2010 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year, Nathan is one of those seriously gifted individuals, perfectly tuned to be a great middle school social studies teacher. And not only is he a great classroom teacher and GLI Master Teacher, he’s connected to both the state and national Councils for History Education and seems to know everybody in the social studies / history universe.

He’s one of the reasons I lurk on the Facebook. He’s got awesome teaching tips and resources to share. And last week, he did it again.

The History, Art, and Archives of the US House of Representatives.

Who knew? Read more

It’s not always what you see that bites you in the butt. All in with the Dorsal Fin

The reason why the movie Jaws is so incredibly spooky? Because for most of the film, we never really see the main character. Just the scary music and the occasional dorsal fin. We can’t see what’s under the water but we know something’s there.

Something big and hungry.

History is a little like that. It’s easy to see the surface stuff. People, places, dates. But it’s the stuff that our students don’t see that is usually the biggest and most important. Underlying causes. Past events. Hidden connections. All of these contribute to how things happened and continue to happen.

I recently ran across a handy graphic organizer idea that I think can help kids intentionally think about these hidden, under the surface pieces. The Facing History folks have titled this teaching strategy the Iceberg because it can help students organize and make sense of the different factors that lead to particular events. The strategy is also great for training kids to balance informative and literary texts, for building content knowledge, for generating text-based responses, and supporting the use of evidence.

It’s also great for organizing notes as student learn about a period in history, as a review, or as an assessment tool.

And yes. I get it. An Iceberg is only Read more