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? Read more
I always enjoy the annual social studies nerd fest that is the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference. I learn a ton and I love the sessions. But it’s the chance to meet all kinds of people that I enjoy the most.
It seems like I’m always bumping into someone I know or someone who knows someone I know. Or . . . well, if you’ve had the chance to attend you understand. The people make the conference.
And it was in St. Louis in 2013 that I got the chance to meet some folks from the Center for Children and Technology, a division of the Education Development Center. The CCT people were there talking about a new online tool called Zoom In! and I happened past their booth in the vendor area.
My first impression?
Two words. Game changer.
Seriously. If you’re a middle or high school US history teacher, this is something that you need to try. I’m not kidding. Read more
The big push nowadays in the social studies world is using evidence and authentic problems to train kids to think historically. We want students to go beyond just simple rote memorization. To be successful citizens, they need the skills to look at a problem from all sides, collect evidence, analyze the evidence, and develop a solution to the problem.
Of course, if you’ve tried this, you already know that the process of training kids to do this is not easy. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen but it really can be narrowed down to a few things:
- creating authentic problems
- finding evidence for kids to analyze
- instructional strategies that teach them how to use that evidence
And I’m discovering that a lot of teachers especially struggle with the last two. Though there are tons of print and online primary / secondary sources around, it can be difficult and time-consuming trying to track them all down. It can also be hard finding different teaching strategies that are effective.
So today a little of both. Read more
This morning, Deb Brown and I presented a workshop on different strategies elementary teachers can use in their classrooms.
We had a great time!
If you’re interested, we put all of the goodies in a Dropbox folder. You can get the Read more
The Our Documents web site has been around since 2002 but I still run into folks who haven’t seen or heard of it. If you have’t been over there, the concept is pretty simple.
The National Archives experts got together and selected what they thought were the 100 most important primary sources in American history. They posted them online, asked teachers and kids to vote on what they thought were the top ten most important docs, and started a great conversation.
Since being rolled out 12 years ago, the site has hung around and NARA has continued to add resources and tools that can help you use the 100 documents in your classroom. (Be sure to download their free 76 page Teacher Sourcebook.)
One of the most useful resource is their list of integrating primary documents into your instruction: Read more
Maybe this is not as big a topic as I think it is. Maybe it’s just me. But it seems as if the idea of modifying primary sources in order to make them more “user friendly” for our students, especially younger kids, is kind of a big deal.
Maybe I’m wrong. As I travel around the country, I get the chance to work with lots of social studies teachers – who by the very nature of their position have a tendency to voice strong opinions about, well . . . just about everything.
Including among other things: K-State football, KU basketball, Democrat, Republican, Texas BBQ, Kansas City BBQ, and iPads vs. Chromebooks.
But no matter where I’m at the question of modifying or altering primary sources for student use in the classroom is a topic that gets everybody’s juices going. The concept is a pretty simple one. Use a primary document as an instructional tool but before handing it over to students, you edit the document – changing length or vocabulary or sentence structure or deleting unnecessary elements or whatever might hold kids back from being able to make sense of the document.
This, of course, is where the debate begins. What is unnecessary? Read more