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Posts tagged ‘history’

10 sites for thinking, learning historically

It’s a double bonus type of day.

First, today is one of the last days of our Century of Progress Teaching American History project. So I get to spend all day with 41 middle school teachers and we talk about nothing except history stuff.

Today’s history stuff?

Chinese immigration during the late 1800s. And we’re tying in history content conversations with Joel Breakstone of the Stanford History Education Group. He’s sharing with us how to create lesson plans designed to train kids to think historically. There’s been some very helpful theoretical sorts of stuff focusing on historical thinking but also very practical suggestions about what a great lesson should look like.

Second, yesterday the Kansas Board of Education voted 9-0 to approve the proposed social studies standards. Some of us have been working on these for the last 20 months and to have them accepted for full implementation is pretty sweet.

Such a cool day! It’s like the perfect storm. New standards that focus on high level historical thinking skills and content/strategies that can help us meet those standards.

So I figured . . . why not share some of the goodies we talked about?

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Teaching What Really Happened and 3 other interesting books you should be reading

Like many families, mine spends part of every evening re-hashing the day – sharing experiences, discussing current events, solving the world’s problems, and arguing whether the X-Men are actual super heroes.

Earlier this week, during a discussion about school, my daughter blurted out:

“I really don’t do anything at school. I’m asked to learn stuff that doesn’t mean anything to me in ways that are incredibly boring.”

She and I have had this discussion before. She plays the game very well – straight A’s, great test scores. She knows the rules. And the traditional view of school would suggest that because she has a nice GPA she actually knows something. But every time I hear about worksheets, answering questions at the end of the chapter, or high school students reading out loud from the textbook to one another, I’m not convinced. Research is telling all of us that these sorts of instructional strategies don’t impact long-term learning.

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How cool is this? WWI reenactors in back yard

Man! I would love to do this in my back yard. Okay . . . I would love to this in my neighbor’s back yard.

Somewhere we need to do this.

Andrew Robertshaw of Charlwood, England decided he wanted to build a World War I era trench in his garden. Robertshaw, age 55, then enlisted the help of 30 volunteers and built the 60 foot long trench – moving 200 tones of earth in the process – in about a month. After it was finished, he and a group of World War One re-enactors then camped in it for 24 hours to relive what WWI soldiers went through.

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Gooru: A search engine for learning

I’ve had the chance for some incredible learning opportunities lately, both formal and informal. Two conferences, the National Council for the Social Studies in Seattle and the Association of Educational Service Centers in Tampa, provided some great ideas and networking in a formal way.

But November was also a great month for informal learning through my PLN, with other ESSDACK folks, and with two marvelous people from New Zealand. Ali Hughes and Derek Wenmoth spent several weeks in the US and I had the opportunity to pick their brains last week.

What I learned from them would fill a month of blogs and together with everything else I’ve run across in the last four weeks, my head’s on emergency download mode. So lots to talk about!

Today? Something simple. What the creator calls

A search engine for learning.

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History? I love History! and other fun video tools

I love history. Most people do. At least they do once they graduate from high school. Historical fiction, biographies, history related movies. All end up on best seller and highest grossing movie lists.

There are lots of reasons why this seems to be true. Part of the problem is how it’s taught in school. And part of that problem is that we often don’t use video and movies correctly. Even my daughter knows this:

Don’t show a super long movie over three or four class periods. Especially if there’s no clear reason for me having to watch it.

I’ve written about using movies here and here but I started thinking this week about what sorts of useful clips live online. And some quick looking around revealed a variety of handy tools.

The UK Scholastic people have a very cool site called Horrible Histories. They’ve posted short clips of their longer videos on YouTube. A great way to introduce historical topics or as reflection/writing prompts.

My favorite? Historical Wife Swap Ancient Greece. Athenian and Spartan wives swap families ala the current reality television show.

Another handy online video clip site is Crash Course: World History. You’ll find quirky videos on a wide variety of historical topics. These are a bit longer than the Horrible History clips at about 12 minutes or so. And they are a bit more upper level. But still a lot of fun and a good way to introduce different historical periods and topics.

(The bonus thing? These sorts of videos seem much better suited for “flipping” history classrooms than some of the clunky Khan Academy type videos out there.)

What history based video sites am I missing?

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Visualizing Emancipation

We’re deep into the third day of our Teaching American History summer session and are busy uncovering all sorts of handy resources and materials. Part of what we’ve been learning is that African Americans of the 1800s played a huge part in their own gradual emancipation.

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights and supports that sort of thinking:

Edward L. Ayers, a historian and president of the University of Richmond, calls the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War “the least-understood social transformation in American history.” A new interactive map he helped build shows that emancipation didn’t occur in one moment, he says, but was “an unfolding,” happening from the very first years of the war to the very last. And, he adds, it happened because of African Americans, not merely for them, or to them.

Titled Visualizing Emancipation, this interactive map is an ongoing project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, that sheds light on when and where men and women became free in the Civil War South. It tells the complex story of emancipation by mapping documentary evidence of black men and women’s activities – using official military correspondence, newspapers, and wartime letters and diaries – alongside the movements of Union regiments and the shifting legal boundaries of slavery.

A very cool Web 2.0 way of helping kids see that there was way more to the Emancipation story than just Lincoln, his Proclamation, and the 13th Amendment.

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