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.
But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!
I had the chance last week to spend a very fun afternoon with an energetic group of elementary teachers. I always enjoy chatting with K-6 folks. (I just don’t know how they get up every morning and keep going back. Because, seriously . . . grade school kids freak me out. They smell funny, they always seem to be sticky for some reason, and they throw up at the most awkward moments. So God bless anyone willing to spend all day, every day, with an large group of people all under the age of 12.)
Part of our conversation centered around planning different units in a year long scope and sequence at various grade levels. And some of the discussion revolved around possible essential / compelling questions that might anchor each of those units. I don’t get the chance to have these kinds of discussions with K-6 people much – when I do, it’s always a good time. Once they start rolling, it’s hard to get them to slow down. We started with the basics: Read more
Okay. The title had already pulled me in but any session that’s playing the Hamilton soundtrack as you enter the room is destined to be awesome.
Ashley and Brian Furgione are talking this afternoon about ways to encourage and support different ways of sourcing evidence. Yes, they are married. And both are middle school teachers and teach US History / Civics in Florida.
They started with the question:
How can we help engage kids in using primary sources and asking great sourcing questions?
And shared some examples: Read more
Yeah. I get it. #NCSS16 and #NSSSA16 have the words “social studies” in their titles. But Social Studies Nerdfest just doesn’t sound as cool as History Nerdfest. It just isn’t.
So . . . try to ignore it if it bugs you. Either way, I’ve got two and half days left in the annual National Social Studies Supervisors / National Council for the Social Studies conference – thousands of social studies teachers getting together to chat / learn / argue about all sorts of cool, fun, and new social studies stuffs. This year, we’re all together in Washington DC. How cool is that?
Just a bunch of history nerds getting together to get smarter. And every year I try as best that I can to document the nerdy goodness I run across. The first session of this year’s Nerdfest was actually a session I did at the NSSSA – quick review of Virtual Reality in the Social Studies. It went well . . . right up until the Internet stopped connecting all of our devices in the Google Expeditions app.
Yeah. We faked it for a few minutes and eventually got a few people into the VR world. But still some great conversation about possibilities of VR in the SS.
The first session that I attended was titled Teaching and Assessing DBQs in the K-2 Grades. And you’re probably thinking what I was thinking. Seriously? I talk about having elementary kids use primary sources but the title was very intriguing. I was not disappointed.
Regina Wallace and Tashika Clanton of Clayton County Public Schools near Atlanta shared how their district is scaffolding the DBQ skills of five, six and seven year old kids. Yup. Pretty awesome. I tried to keep up and have pasted some of what they shared below.
Biggest takeaway? Read more
The last day of any conference is always a bit bittersweet. You’ve had a great time. You’ve learned a lot. But, man, Sunday mornings are rough and a large piece of my brain is suggesting – loudly – that I should have stayed in bed.
Yeah, I know. #firstworldproblems.
But this session looks like it’s right in my wheelhouse. If using Google apps and tools to teach social studies doesn’t wake me up, then I’m in the wrong job.
We start by agreeing that Google is a great entry point for using lots of tools that helps students do social studies. Why should we be using Google?
- supports the reading of non-fiction and content texts
- encourages deciphering primary sources
- applying social studies concepts
- it’s more fun
They suggested buying their own website domain for using with kids. In fact, they suggest having two – a public one and private one for the teaching and learning. They can be connected but the private domain allows for specific filtering and controlling access. There was some discussion about why a separate private domain for individual classes adds value past what a district or school wide GAFE account might add.
They’re a Chromebook school so the Chrome Browser is already built into those laptops. But if you’re not using Chromebooks, using the Chrome Browser is still probably your best option if you plan on using tons of Googly things. Read more
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