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. Tarr recently published a book titled A History Teaching Toolbox: Practical Classroom Strategies.
It’s the perfect resource for busy classroom teachers looking for some new strategies with their students. You’re going to find more than 60 tried and tested activities and approaches organized into helpful categories and explained with step-by-step instructions and topic-specific examples to illustrate how they can be used immediately. A History Teaching Toolbox is written for both new and experienced teachers who want to engage their students in high level thinking and problem-based learning activities.
I ordered a copy last week and I’ve been browsing through it this afternoon. It truly is the type of resource that provides activities and suggestions that any 6-12 social studies teacher could implement tomorrow. It would also be a great book for PLCs and history departments – go through a chapter together, try out a few of the ideas, and come back together to tweak and adapt. I’ve posted a few table of content pics below to give you an idea of the scope Tarr covers in A History Teaching Toolbox.
So you’re gonna want to spend some time at his websites but then head over to Amazon for the old school print. Both totally worth your time.
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
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.
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.
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
I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.
Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!
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?
I followed the same pattern. Lecture. (Though I did make an allowance for my middle schoolers by putting my notes on the overhead. And yes. It was the kind that had a roll of plastic that I cranked to bring up more of my carefully crafted outline.) Quiz. Worksheet. Test.
Because I thought that was what good teaching looked like.
But the longer I taught like that, the more confused I got. A few of my kids did great. Straight As. Most did average at best. And the rest? Read more