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Posts tagged ‘lesson plans’

A framework for teaching American slavery – from Teaching Tolerance

After a quick six hour visit to the the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture yesterday, it just made sense to stop in at the #NCHE2019 session by Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance. Maureen shared Teaching Tolerance resources that can help you effectively teach issues surrounding the history of slavery in the United States.

“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.”

James Baldwin
Black English: A Dishonest Argument

Maureen started by sharing that most of our students leave high school without an adequate understanding of the role slavery played in the development of the United States – or how its legacies still influence us today.

Slavery’s long reach continues into the present day. The persistent and wide socioeconomic and legal disparities that African Americans face today and the backlash that seems to follow every African-American advancement trace their roots to slavery and its aftermath. If we are to understand the United State and the world today, we must understand slavery’s history and continuing impact.

Unfortunately, research conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2017 shows that our schools are failing to teach the hard history of African enslavement. They surveyed U.S. high school seniors and social studies teachers, analyzed a selection of state content standards, and reviewed 10 popular U.S. history textbooks. The research indicates that: Read more

Women’s History Month resources. (That you should use all year.)

As a founding member of the National Women’s History Project, Mary Ruthsdotter knows the importance of teaching kids about the accomplishments of women.

“As a youngster, I thought I had drawn the short straw being born female. None of the stories I was told of adults actively and effectively engaged in the world had to do with women. How startling it was to learn (after college!) that women have played important roles in every aspect of American life – establishing homes for family life, fighting and spying during every war, establishing social service networks, and dramatically influencing laws and attitudes.”

Students who don’t learn the facts can develop the wrong idea about what women have accomplished. Ruthsdotter continued:

“If women’s contributions and accomplishments are not mentioned, the omission is not even noticed, but a subtle lesson is learned just as certainly: Women haven’t done anything important. Knowing that teachers cannot pass along what they themselves have not been taught, the NWHP aims to make excellent, user-friendly materials readily available for all areas of the K-12 curriculum. Language arts, social studies, creative arts, the sciences – women have been active in all these areas, and the stories of their accomplishments are fascinating.”

Couldn’t agree more.

But I’m conflicted about the whole Women’s History Month thing – a lot like my hesitation around the idea of a separate Black History Month. Too many of us still use February and March to have kids memorize random black history and women’s history facts and call it good. (We also seem to have a habit of doing the same thing with Latino history and Asian American history and Native American history and . . . well, you get the idea.)

I’m conflicted because I know many of you may be looking for great Women’s History month resources. And I have a list. But part of me is afraid that it will only get used between now and the end of the month.

So here’s the deal. You can have the list. But Read more

Art. So much more than something hanging on a wall.

Both my kids have always had a strong sense of art, of being able to create visually appealing pieces. (The Rowdie effort to the left by the oldest is not one of his best efforts, though it does accurately convey the family pet’s personality.) We constantly had crayons, painting supplies, easels, and all sorts of other artsy things in use around the house.

I wasn’t much help. My art skills have been described as “creative” and “abstract.”

Both kids continue to share their love for the medium and to help me think about art and artists. And today, a quick conversation with a high school US history teacher meandered down a path that focused on ways to integrate art into our instruction.

So it got me thinking a bit.

We often forget how powerful the arts can be in connecting our kids with social studies content and big ideas. Art, in all of its forms, is a great way to create emotion, generate connections, and build relationships. Whether viewing landscapes, portraits, or historical events through the eyes of contemporary artists, students can get a sense of time, of place, of interpretation that would be impossible using other forms of primary sources.

One of the quickest ways to incorporate the arts is to focus on the visual – paintings, drawings, and images. But I often notice it missing from the toolkits of many social studies teachers. And I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe we’re just not aware of the resources available or the kinds of questions to ask. If we’ve never thought too much about using artwork as an instructional tools, it can be hard finding a jumping off point.

So what can it look like when we intentionally integrate visual art into our classrooms? Try some of these ideas and resources: Read more

Hamilton, music, and the power of emotion to engage your learners

Almost exactly three years ago, away back in 2015, I wrote a short post about the Hamilton musical. My kids have a standing order that requires them to keep me updated with the latest pop culture from the youths. And my daughter was already in love with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the way he incorporated music and dance to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton.

While I hadn’t seen the show, I was able to read enough, see enough, and hear enough to be convinced about the power of the story. And was convinced that using the story and music would be a great way to help kids better understand the broader story of the Revolution and America’s founding fathers.

Last Friday, while in Chicago for the #ncss18 conference, I finally had the chance to actually see Hamilton in person.

Wow. Just. Wow.

I am now even more convinced about how this secondary source re-telling of the period of the late 1700s can help connect our kids to both past and present. And while Hamilton is a particularly spectacular example of the power of music and emotion to engage the learner, it’s not the only way we can use music in the classroom. So this morning, I’m re-posting another quick set of resources that I put together a year ago that can help you begin to think about what the integration of music might look like.

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I am not Read more

History Nerdfest 2018: Social Studies Inquiry Made Real. Teachers as Designers

It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.

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It’s something we all struggle with.

What does instructional design look like when we combine content knowledge with historical thinking skill. The answer?

The Inquiry Design Model.

It’s a great way to integrate the NCSS Inquiry Arc into actual practice. And like the rest of you, those of us in Kansas have been wrestling with this question since 2013. We created new state standards that focus on finding a balance between content and process. It’s a great idea but what does it actually look like in practice? Teachers want and need specifics about creating learning activities that encourage historical thinking skills in their students.

Created by S.G. Grant, John Lee, and Kathy Swan, the IDM becomes part of the answer by providing a structure for integrating content and process together. Based on the Inquiry Arc of the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework, IDM helps build a connection between the head and the heart of our students while also training them to think historically.

The head has always been part of social studies but if we’re going to get under their skins, we have to connect with their hearts too. Most teachers know their content. But many struggle with helping kids care about the content

Think of a great inquiry activity created using the IDM method as “bigger than a lesson but smaller than a unit.”

What are the different parts of an IDM? Read more