Way back in August of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Park Service Organic Act, establishing the creation of the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife” found inside the United States and make them available for public enjoyment.
According to National Geographic and the NPS, there are more than 84 million acres across the U.S., at sites as diverse as national monuments, Civil War battlefields, and historic sites. There’s a big range in size among NPS sites, too: The biggest is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, at 13.2 million acres, while the smallest is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre. These sites attract more than 300 million visitors every year.
Shelton Johnson, a park ranger at Yosemite National Park and published author, shared his thoughts on this important milestone.
“No longer were rivers a force to be dammed, virgin forests a source for board-feet, or mountainsides blasted for gemstones or coal. The idea of parks has the power to transcend culture, a currency whose value speaks of something profoundly human.”
To celebrate, Read more
EDSITEment has always been one of my go-to lesson plan, teaching resources, website referral tools. A partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Trust for the Humanities, EDSITEment offers a treasure trove for teachers searching for high-quality material in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies.
Everything at EDSITEment is reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom and covers a wide range of humanities subjects, from American history to literature, world history and culture, language, art, and archaeology, and have been judged by humanities specialists to be of high intellectual quality.
If you’re looking for ways to integrate content with language arts and the humanities, EDSITEment should one of the first places you stop at. Lesson plans are searchable by grade level and specific content, are aligned to specific historical thinking skills, and focus on using evidence to build historical thinking skills. You can also find a variety of interactive student resources sortable by grade and content.
There’s a weekly blog written by EDSITEment guru Joe Phelan with helpful tips and teaching suggestions. You can sign up to get their monthly newsletter with updates and special announcements.
And it just got better. Read more
Our job as social studies teachers is not to give our students the answers. Our job is to create great questions and then train kids to be able to address those questions. To model and facilitate the practice of reading, writing, and thinking like historians.
Rather than passively receiving information from us or our textbooks, students should be actively engaged in the activities of historians — making sense of the stories, events and ideas of the past through document analysis.
And one of the tools that every history / social studies teacher should be using to help with all of this is the incredible National Archives site DocsTeach. I first wrote about DocsTeach when it debuted six years ago in 2010. The idea of the site at the time?
the project is designed to provide useful document-based lesson plans and activities created by both NARA staff members and classroom teachers.
And it was awesome. Tons of primary sources from the National Archives. Activities that focused on and supported historical thinking skills. The ability to create your own activities, save them, and share them digitally with your students. For 2010, it truly was cutting edge.
But it debuted before mobile devices and iPads. Before national standards such as the NCSS C3 Framework and Common Core Lit standards. Before Wineburg’s Reading Like a Historian and SHEG. Before online primary evidence archives were commonplace. So even though it was an incredible idea put into practice, it was a bit clunky and not super user friendly in 2016.
But not anymore. DocsTeach just got a massive upgrade. And now there is no excuse not to use it. Because not only can you still access thousands of primary sources, borrow from an ever-expanding collection of document-based activities, and create your own online activities, there are some very sweet changes and additions to the site.
Integrating economic concepts and big ideas into social studies lesson and unit design seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal. But if you’re like me, you probably don’t have a ton of econ background.
So it’s always nice to have a few handy resources rattling around in your tool kit when designing instruction. And the US Federal Reserve banking system has got you covered. With twelve regional banks around the country, each with their own education department, the Federal Reserve has an amazing storehouse of educational materials and lesson plan ideas.
To help organize their stash and to make it easier for you to find what you need, the Reserve created a dedicated site designed specifically for teachers. And you know it’s good because they names the site Federal Reserve Education. I mean, it’s right there in title.
Start your search by selecting the link to Find Your Federal Reserve District. Then click on any one of the 12 districts, select View Resources, and narrow your results by using the filters along the left side. This allows you to browse through specific regional banks such as St. Louis or Boston. You can also search a specific region’s resources by using the keyword search located at the top of the page. Read more
I can say that I knew Nathan before he became famous. He and I worked together in our first Teaching American History project. A few years later in 2010, he was selected as the National Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year. He was and still is a middle school teacher at Royal Valley Middle School. And just so you know, he’s awesome.
So when I decided to attend this session and found out that Nathan was the presenter, well . . . double bonus.
At its core, the Teaching Literacy through History is an interdisciplinary professional development program that uses primary documents and historical texts to improve K–12 education. GLI wants to come to your school or district to help create lessons and curriculum. Read more
Television’s most-watched history series, American Experience has been hailed as “peerless” by the Wall Street Journal, “the most consistently enriching program on television” by the Chicago Tribune, and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” by the Houston Chronicle.
And for what it’s worth, I like it too.
Seriously. Good. Stuff. Read more