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Posts tagged ‘instructional strategies’

Going beyond the Exit Card: 10 easy to use reflection strategies

We get it. Having some sort of closure activity as part of the learning process is important. Teachers use this sort of immediate information to measure student understanding, monitor student questions, and collect feedback on instruction. For students, closure activities serve as a content review at the end of a daily lesson and enhance their meta-cognitive skills.

But we’ve all been there. You and your kids get so hooked into an activity or lesson that you lose track of time. You look up and there’s a minute left of class. Students are throwing their stuff in backpacks, the bell rings, and off they go without a chance to think about their thinking. Or worse, we fail to intentionally plan for any sort of reflection or meta-cognition to happen.

And while we understand at the intellectual level that we need to have some sort of closure after and during learning, it can be too easy to blow it off if we’re busy or if you’ve done the Exit Card thing just too many times.

So what are some alternatives to the Exit Card? Give these a try. Feel free to adapt as needed. Read more

Don’t be that guy. You know . . . that guy. The Trivia Crack guy.

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

Tip of the Week: Zoom In! The future of historical thinking

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

Historical newspapers and analog Google Docs mashup

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

#NCSS14: Four Sweet Strategies – Reading & Writing in the Elementary Classroom

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

14 suggestions for integrating primary sources

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


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