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Posts tagged ‘instructional strategies’

Crop It: hands on primary source analysis strategy

I’ve had the chance over the last few weeks to spend a lot of time working with both elementary and secondary teachers on effective uses of primary sources. Together, we shared a wide variety of both digital and paper / pencil strategies that support historical thinking.

One of the easiest but most effective strategies is called Crop It. In some ways, it’s a lot like my Evidence Analysis Window Frame but I really like the flexibility embedded in the Crop It idea. The idea is pretty simple: students use L-shaped paper “cropping” tools to explore a visual or textual primary source.

One of the problems that we often face is finding ways to help students see details – and to make sense of the those details – when viewing a primary source. Photos, paintings, and graphics can contain a ton of specifics that get missed if students don’t take the time to look for them.

Crop It slows this process down so that students scan a source at a deep level and think about what they’re looking at. It gives them a way to find evidence, see multiple viewpoints, and gain a more detailed understanding of a primary source.

This strategy works especially well with elementary and middle school students to help them develop and support historical thinking. And the cool thing is that you can use it with all sorts of visual sources.

Step One:

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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. Read more

“Teaching History Beyond the Textbook” Yohuru Williams and investigative strategies

I had the chance to hear Dr. Yohuru Williams speak last Friday at the National Council for History Education. He started by sharing three things:

  • the Civil Rights movement is more than 1954-1968
  • the Civil Rights movement is more than just the South
  • the Civil Rights movement is more than just securing political opportunities

He continued by using what he calls #BlackLivesMatter moments – events that shape the movement and impact all of us – to frame the conversation. Need an example or two? Jackie Robinson was court martialed in 1944 as a result of refusing to move to the back of a military post bus. Little Rock Nine member Melba Beals started 1958 by resolving to “Do my best to stay alive until May 29.” Jimmy Lee Jackson protecting his family in Selma. Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. Love Canal. Flint, Michigan.

Seriously powerful stuff.

And while I knew of Dr. WIlliams, I wasn’t that familiar with his background and books. So when a quick Google search turned up a book titled Teaching U.S. History Beyond the Textbook, of course I had to order it. Read more

Powerful China Educator Toolkit from Chicago Field Museum

On occasion, I have been accused of being too US history centric at the expense of world history, civics, and econ. And it’s possible.

Maybe.

At times.

Yeah, okay. It’s true. But seriously . . . come on. It’s the Civil War. Lewis and Clark. Teddy Roosevelt. Gordon Parks. The Amazon Army in southeast Kansas. Freedom Riders. Who doesn’t love those stories?

But I am working to get better at finding stuff that is useful across the disciplines. So I was excited to get a press release from the Chicago Field Museum about what looks like some very cool and useful Chinese history and cultural instructional resources. If you teach middle or high school world history, this is definitely worth a look.
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Teaching in the time of Trump

Several days ago, I wrote a quick post highlighting seven ways to survive a divisive election while making your students smarter. That post generated an interesting conversation – many teachers began asking similar kinds of questions. Specifically . . . how can we teach diversity and tolerance when much of the campaign rhetoric directly challenges these very American values while at the same time maintaining a neutral political stance?

A recent article in the National Council for the Social Studies journal Social Education can help us address this concern. Titled Teaching in the Time of Trump by Benjamin Justice and Jason Stanley, the NCSS article provides context, rationale, and specific suggestions for focusing on American democratic values and process.

The article is an incredibly useful teaching tool but it also provides a powerful reminder of our fundamental task. Head over to get the full text but I’ve pasted some snippets below to provide some flavor of what Justice and Stanley have to say.

Teaching in the time of Trump raises a fundamental pedagogical question: is it permissible for a teacher to adopt a non-neutral political stance in the classroom, either through explicitly addressing the problems with Trump’s rhetoric or, conversely, by remaining silent in the face of it? How can teachers balance the much cherished value of political impartiality (protecting the students’ freedom of expression and autonomous political development) against the much cherished American values threatened by Trumpish demagoguery?

Why should we even worry about this? Read more

Don’t be a dog person

I’m a dog person. I can get along with cats if I have to but all my life, it’s been dogs. My first dog, shared with my five brothers and sisters, was a German Shepard / Collie mix named Tuffy. And just so you know, Tuffy was the best dog ever.

Several years ago, my wife and I adopted a rescue dog that we named Rowdie. Rowdie’s a Jack Russell who is currently running a very close second to best dog ever. Definitely way better than a cat.

Cats ignore you, are snooty, and absolutely refuse to roll over and play dead.

But I said something like that once to a person who owned cats and was quickly put in my place: Read more