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Posts tagged ‘literacy’

Print out a YouTube video. Handy tool or shiny gadget?

Yup. Print out a YouTube video. Holy sweet Googly tech trick, Batman!

When you are watching any video on the YouTube website, the storyboard (the images that appear just above the play bar when slide your cursor along it) for that video is automatically downloaded in the background. The Print YouTube tool stitches all of those storyboard image frames into one large poster that you can then download as a PDF or print out.

To get started, you drag the Print YouTube bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar. Then open any video on YouTube, click the bookmarklet link, and the storyboard images are instantly generated. These storyboards offer a visual summary of videos and you can generate them for short videos as well as full-length movies.

But mmm . . . this seems like a perfect example of the question we should be asking every time we find out about a new tech tool: Read more

Hamilton the musical: Non-traditional literacy and historical thinking

For the last few years, I’ve come to depend on my kids to keep me up to date on the latest pop culture stuff. Jake shares his favorite music and books. Erin makes sure I’m connected with fads such as the Hunger Games phenomenon and art trends.

The most recent update from my kids? The Hamilton musical.

If you don’t have my kids around to help you keep up with all of the latest happenings, here’s a one-sentence heads up. It’s a Broadway musical that follows Alexander Hamilton from the time he leaves the Caribbean to his death in that duel with Aaron Burr.

And, yes, I can hear you thinking all the way over here.

Broadway musical? Really? How is that gonna help me teach American history?

First, we should always Read more

Nerdfest 2015 Day Three: Quick Writes to assess historical thinking

If you aren’t familiar with Bruce Lesh, author of the very sweet book titled Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer?, then . . . well, you need to be. The book highlights his experience as a classroom teacher struggling to find ways to get his kids to think historically. More importantly, how best to measure that type of thinking. His stuff is just incredibly practical and useful right away.

So I’m pumped to hear him share some ideas about quick, easy to use, writing assessments to gauge student thinking. Bruce started the session with an audio clip of a Scantron machine scoring multiple choice answer sheets. The more noise it makes, the “worse” teacher you are. Because that means students were missing lots of multiple choice questions. Like many teachers, he used to use that type of test to measure learning.

But at the same time that he was using MC and other traditional types of assessment, he was changing the way he designed his instruction to focus more on the processes of the discipline, on having kids think historically. Bruce continued by suggesting that quality instruction measured by poor assessment does more harm than good. We need to focus on both powerful learning activities with appropriately aligned assessments.

He’s preaching to the choir.

To set the stage for his Quick Write assessment idea, Bruce shared a bit about what he calls his History Lab idea. A History Lab has the following characteristics: Read more

Nerdfest 2015 Day One: Teaching Literacy with Historical Documents

We’re jumping right into this. Ian Anderson, from Nebraska Wesleyan, is sharing info about his program there in Nebraska. His project is all about improving the reading / writing abilities and historical thinking skills of K-12 students in the state.

The problem? Students are struggling with these skills. So they developed a staff development program to help teachers support these skills. They used the framework from Sam Wineburg and SHEG as the basis of of their rationale and programming.

So their purpose? Training teachers to get kids to do and thinking like historians with the following questions:

  • What do historians do?
  • Why should we study the past?
  • Why do our students not always like to study history or succeed at it?

Ian used the Traxoline example to help us understand that being able to close read and comprehend text is not always the same as disciplinary specific skills. Read more

Social Studies Nerdfest 2015 Day One: Literacy, Technology, & the Inquiry Arc

In my world, there is the winter holiday season. The first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament. Whenever my kids come home to visit. College football bowl season. The Fourth of July. Opening night of any James Bond movie.

You know. Those special times of the year when the day just isn’t long enough to fit in all the fun.

The cool thing? Today starts another of those annual periods that fit the category of best times of the year. Today is Day One of Social Studies Nerdfest 2015. Yup. Today starts four days of geeking out with thousands of other social studies people at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference. This year, we’re hanging out downtown New Orleans.

Seriously. How cool is that? It really needs to be an official national holiday.

The actual NCSS conference kicks off tomorrow. Today I get Read more

5 new and 15 old equals 20 Hunger Games: Mockingjay lesson plans and resources

It’s coming. If you haven’t been paying attention and don’t know what I’m talking about, chat for a few minutes with some of your students. I’m guessing that they can help you out.

Yup. That’s right. The last half of Mockingjay, the third and final Hunger Games movie opens November 20. It’s guaranteed  to set records for ticket sales after it opens.


Cause people love the book. Seriously love the book.

I became very aware of the power that Katniss and other Hunger Games characters have on people when my daughter and wife started reading the series several years ago. And the more I talked with them and as they shared more about the story, I began to realize the possibilities for integrating that story into social studies instruction.

Way back in September 2010, I wrote

I’ve heard from some that this sort of thing is too much like “entertaining” students. That we shouldn’t have to use pop culture to teach social studies. I disagree. I will use pretty much whatever it takes to engage kids in content. And if the relationship between Katniss, Peeta and Gale hooks students into a better understanding of civic and geographic concepts, we ought to be all over it.

I still believe that. The Hunger Games series gives us a wonderful hook for teasing out some amazing social studies themes and topics: Read more


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