So. Much. Learning.
Getting the chance to be part of the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference can be both overwhelming and inspiring. There are so many people to meet, so many new ideas, so many new tools to explore.
I feel smarter just thinking about it.
Two of the things I noticed while I was immersed in the 2017 History Nerdfest? There is a common language and expectation around the idea of historical thinking – that using evidence and primary sources and sourcing and having kids solve problems is a good thing. Second? There is a commitment to using technology as one of the tools for helping kids make sense of the world around them.
It wasn’t always like that. NCSS and its members have come a long way in embracing the power of tech tools as part of social studies instruction and learning. That’s a good thing. A specific example that focuses on historical thinking and technology are the very cool things that the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program is doing with sims and gaming platforms.
One of the coolest? Read more
Just finished a great two days with Rich Cairn from the Collaborative for Educational Services. Together with a small group of middle and high school teachers, we spent the time working to figure out effective ways to engage English Language Learners with social studies inquiry methods. Rich is in charge of Emerging America, a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project.
Part of what he does is to help teachers across Massachusetts – and now Kansas – use Library of Congress resources to make inquiry learning accessible to all learners. During our time together, we addressed a wide variety of topics – challenges faced by English Language Learners, challenges faced by teachers of EL students, ways to use graphic organizers to support language acquisition, using the LOC website, researching the history of immigration policies and court cases, and generally have an awesome time.
A small part of our conversation focused on the use of essential and compelling questions. Here in Kansas, we’ve been pushing compelling questions for a while. They play an important part in our current standards and are the key to a great inquiry-based lesson.
Question. Evidence. Solution. Communicate the solution. It all starts with a great problem to solve.
And during our conversation Rich shared a sweet definition of what a great historical inquiry-based question should look like in that process. He was happy to share it.
So . . . if you’re looking for a list of characteristics of what a compelling / essential / overarching / inquiry-based question should look like, here ya go: Read more
I spent yesterday in Topeka, working with KSDE social studies guru Don Gifford and a few others such as @MsKoriGreen and @NHTOYMc to develop the next state assessment. Still in alpha version with beta testing in 2018-2019 but lots of fun talking about what it should look like.
It’s gonna be very cool btw – student focused, locally measured, aligned to historical thinking / literacy skills, and problem based. Look for an update on latest test goodness soon.
So we were all over the place in our conversation. Part of our discussion centered on ways to integrate all of the social studies into the work students will be doing. Including geography. So my mind went to maps. Really cool historical maps. And what it might look like when we use really cool historical maps with kids. So I got a bit sidetracked and did a quick interwebs search for really cool historical maps.
Piece of advice. Don’t do this unless you’ve got more than a few minutes to kill. Cause you will end up in a rabbit hole of geography map goodness. Plus I saved you the trouble.
During my poking around, I ran across the Library of Congress Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps collection. It’s got all the cool historical mapness you’ll need today. Read more
I’ve spent part of the last five weeks learning together with teachers from around the country as part of a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project. Led by folks at Waynesburg University, the focus is on using Library resources in effective ways. It’s been fun hearing from others about how they search for resources, share strategies, and integrate primary sources into the classroom.
On Tuesday, we spent time discussing some of the most effective integration ideas. The Waynesburg TPS office has posted ten of their favorites online, calling them Primary Source Starter Activities. Read more
All of us want to get smarter. And most of us aren’t too disappointed if we can pick up some some professional learning certification along the way.
If the learning is tied to the Library of Congress and primary sources? Bonus.
The second LOC online conference was last week and it was awesome. Titled Discover and Explore with Library of Congress Primary Sources, the conference focused on using all of the most excellent tools for integrating primary sources into your instruction. There were also sessions that highlighted the best ways to search and use the Library’s website. The conference sessions were streamed live last week but were archived in case you missed things.
You can find sessions on using photographs, the integration of LOC documents and SHEG’s Beyond the Bubble tool, using primary sources in the elementary grades, historical newspapers, civic engagement stuff, and a ton more. There are 15 sessions to choose from so you’re guaranteed to find something that perfectly fits your needs.
To access archived video of the session presentations and any associated handouts, simply go to the conference website and click on any of the session titles.
The front pages of the Library website just got a very cool overhaul. It’s brighter and easier to use with a focus on social media and trending themes. It looks really good. So be sure to spend some time with the conference session highlighting what’s new at the LOC to get caught up with all of the new sweetness.