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Posts tagged ‘primary sources’

None of us are Amanda Gorman. But we and our students should try to be.

Recent news articles are highlighting a request to ban access by Florida elementary students to Amanda Gorman’s poem A Hill We Climb. The reason for the request? “it is not educational and have indirectly hate messages.”

The specific passage that “have indirectly hate messages”?

“We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
And the norms and notions of what ‘just is’
Isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow, we do it.
Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”

The ban request also lists the author / publisher as Oprah Winfrey and claims that the function of the poem is to “cause confusion.”


I’ve always been a fan of using a variety of resources to teach social studies, including non-fiction, literature, and poetry. And this poem by Gorman has a particularly powerful potential for encouraging and supporting historical thinking. So . . . to support the use of poetry as part of your instruction and specifically The Hill We Climb, today is Wayback Wednesday with a post from January 2021.

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Thinking routines & Project Zero. Your first round draft choice.

I admit it. I’m a fan. And watch it every year.

Especially this year. Held in downtown Kansas City, home of the world champion Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL Draft is my spring booster shot that holds me through until August’s preseason.

And I know you’re all locked into the last few weeks of the semester but you need to take a few minutes to explore Project Zero, developed by the Harvard Graduate School Education. Because if you’re looking for next fall’s first round draft pick of resources, the thinking routines you’ll find at Project Zero should be at the top of your list.

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Chronicling America Research Guides. Where have you been all my life?

I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people who work at the Library of Congress. And they’ve all been awesome. I’m sure there’s probably one or two who work over there who are Las Vegas Raiders fans or who will tell you that they don’t like Kansas City Joe’s burnt ends. And other than those one or two, they’re all a pretty amazing group.

But after last week, my love for the Library of Congress and the people who work there has gone through the roof. I’ve talked about the Library’s amazing Chronicling America website before. And so you already know how powerful and useful I think Chronicling America is for social studies teachers and their students.

(Never visited and need the short version? Chronicling America has almost 200 years worth of digitized primary source newspapers available for scanning, analyzing, downloading, and printing. It’s searchable by keyword. By language. By state. By ethnicity. And it’s free.)

As we all continue finding ways to integrate inquiry-based learning activities into our classrooms, primary sources are the foundation for much of what we’re asking kids to do. Of course, part of the problem is finding primary sources that align with what we want kids to learn. Chronicling America can help.

But after last week? Things just got a whole lot easier. The reason?

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5 inquiry learning and primary source teaching hacks. Cause you know . . . it’s good for kids

I’m spending the next several days with some amazing teachers. We’re all part of the Kansas Department of Education’s work on tweaking and revising the rubric used for scoring the state mandated social studies assessment.

We’ve chatted before about the state standards and the very cool state assessment. But in a nutshell? The standards focus on discipline specific skills and process rather than just rote memorization of facts. The state assessment, which the department calls a Classroom-Based Assessment, allows local districts and classroom teachers to design their own inquiry based assessment activity specific to their students and content.

These locally designed assessments are scored with a generic rubric created by KSDE and a select group of teachers. After a year of field testing, we’re coming back together to fix some issues with the rubric that teachers have noticed.

As part of that process, we’ve had the opportunity to look at a wide variety of student created products that address the tasks outlined in the CBAs developed by teachers. And we’ve noticed a few things about these tasks.

The goal of the CBA is simple. Measure how well students can make claims and support those claims using evidence and reasoning. And, well . . . this requires the use of evidence, specifically the use of primary sources. What have we noticed? Not all of the CBA tasks are . . . hmm, high quality. So it’s difficult to determine, using the rubric, whether kids can actually make claims using evidence because the task is poorly designed. A lot of the design issues involve the integration of primary sources.

We figured this would happen and that ongoing professional development would be needed along the way. Teachers across the state (and across the country) are still wrapping their heads around what inquiry-based instruction and assessment can look like. So, in addition to tweaking the rubric, we’ve also started thinking about and planning for next year’s professional learning opportunities around the design of not just the CBA but the integration of evidence in instructional activities.

Part of that planning is providing teachers with primary sources and how to integrate them into a inquiry-based activity. So . . . today? Five hacks for using primary sources as part of your everyday activities. Read more