The shift is on. We’re moving beyond simple rote memorization and direct instruction to a more hands on, interactive and evidence-based learning method. We want kids to solve problems and communicate solutions.
That’s a good thing.
But as we all get better at giving kids problems to solve and asking them to use evidence to solve those problems, it’s easy to focus on certain types of evidence. Diaries. Journals. Speeches. Photos. Maps. You know . . . the basic types of primary source documents many of you having been using forever. Absolutely nothing wrong with those types of evidence. Heck, secondary sources work too.
What can start to happen, though, is that we rely too much on the old reliables and never ask kids to use more complicated kinds of things. And one type of evidence that we need to start using more is the huge amount of public data that is available. Statistics. Population numbers. Demographical data. Movement of people and materials. This kind of stuff is perfect for creating authentic problems and encouraging creative solutions by your students.
The problem, of course, is that the data has been hard to access and even harder to make sense of. But there is a solution. Right there in plain sight. Most of us just missed it. Read more
Several months ago, I had the privilege to keynote the online Digging Deeper into Primary Sources conference hosted by the South Dakota State Library. The conference was a full day of conversations about why and how we should be using primary sources as part of our instruction.
Teachers, South Dakota library staff, and Library of Congress archivists shared a ton of great ideas and suggestions. Dr. Peggy O’Neill-Jones shared her thoughts on different strategies for document analysis, there were multiple lightning rounds of 15 minute presentations, and author Jean Patrick finished the day with a session titled Footnotes and Phone Calls: My Life as Nonfiction Detective. Everyone walked away smarter than when they walked in.
The cool thing is that the South Dakota library folks archived everything so you can pretend that you were a part of the day. Hand over to their site to harvest all the goodies.
But while we all agree that using primary sources is a good thing, I am often accused (and perhaps rightfully so) of not sharing enough world history resources. And so, for your viewing and teacher pleasure on a beautiful Friday afternoon, ten resources for finding world history primary sources: Read more
I love Sylvia Duckworth’s version of the SAMR tech integration model. The whole idea of any ed tech is to support student learning. And the SAMR is a nice way to think about the tech you’re using or planning to use. Is this just substituting for paper and pencil or is this true redefinition? Something that we couldn’t have done without the tech?
One level in the SAMR model is not necessarily better or worse than another. But it can help help us stop and think about appropriate usage. And a spat of reading over the weekend about a recent edtech idea had me flashing back to Sylvia’s version.
First called “explorable explanations” by a guy named Bret Victor, the idea can take reading to high levels of modification and redefinition. Victor, in his 2011 article, starts with a question: Read more
I ran across this infographic yesterday and love the information that it contains. We know that we need to create these sorts of lessons but are sometimes a bit unsure of what that can look like. User bschultz75 posted their version of what a document-based lesson looks on the Piktochart site and I figured I would pass it on to you.
(I can’t find any info on who bschultz75 actually is but whoever you are, thanks for the great graphic!)
The rest of you? Read more
Update: March 24
I want to highlight the live, interactive virtual field trip, hosted by Discovery Education and Ford’s Theatre this coming Thursday, March 26 at 1 pm ET. Be sure to scroll down to get all the details.
President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, shocked the nation.
One week before, the Confederacy’s largest army had surrendered. Americans looked to the postwar future with a wide array of hopes and fears. Then came the assassination. Public reaction to Lincoln’s assassination varied widely. Some grieved. Some fretted over the future. A few celebrated. One hundred fifty years later, what can we learn from the reactions and reflections of citizens from across the nation, and even around the world?
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the assassination, Ford’s Theater has partnered with 15 different historical groups and created Remembering Lincoln. The goal of this digital collection is to localize and personalize the story of the Lincoln assassination for people around the United States and world.
Dave McIntire, middle school teacher at Wichita’s Independent School, acted as one of ten teacher representatives for the project and passed on some of the site’s details.
Remembering Lincoln seems like a great resource – not only for the interesting historical details but for the opportunity for using the site to encourage historical thinking skills. The focus of Remembering Lincoln is on sharing a variety of primary sources that document contemporary reaction to Lincoln’s death. There are four major pieces to the site: Read more
First things first. If you haven’t hung out at Russell Tarr’s Toolbox, you need to head over there when we’re finished here. Russell has been creating and sharing cool tools for social studies teachers forever and it’s all incredibly handy stuff. (You might have run across Russell’s ideas before on his Active History or ClassTools.net sites.)
About a month ago, I was on his site and ran across something that I thought was very cool. I’d been searching for ideas on how to help elementary kids source evidence. You know – author, date created, audience, intent, the sort of questions that are the foundation of historical thinking.
My goto strategy has been one shared by the Library of Congress that helps kids all the way down to kindergarten start the process of historical thinking – by training them to ask questions about primary sources. The LOC example focuses on the idea of Read more