We want them to be able to make an argument using evidence, logic, and reasoning. And we want them to be able to do this in a variety of ways. But it’s difficult to create any sort of argument without some sort of written version first. So having our kids write is always a good idea. The problem? Sometimes our students just need something simple to get them started.
I recently ran across a pretty basic graphic organizer that has apparently been around for a while but because I’ve been so busy with the whole Wichita State beating University of Kansas then losing to Notre Dame basketball thing, I somehow missed it. If you’ve heard of it, feel free to head back to your bracket. If it’s as new to you as it is to me, hang around.
Called PEEL, the organizer is an easy to use tool that provides your students Read more
I spent part of the past week in Topeka and Kansas City – not sure what was my favorite. On Wednesday, I climbed to the top of the Kansas State Capitol Building. It’s one of the few capitol domes that still allow folks to visit the very top. And it’s been since I was 13, on the traditional 8th grade field trip to Topeka, that I last climbed to the top.
For the record? Above the inner dome? With just that spindly looking set of stairs? Yeah. Still very spooky.
But the highlight was probably the chance to visit the Steamboat Arabia museum in downtown KC. Most of you probably won’t be able to make that trip but if you can, it’s a keeper. Quick overview – the Missouri River has Read more
Need a place to connect past with present? Need writing prompts? Need hundreds of articles about current events in an easy to access place? Need articles with leveled reading? Need a searchable databases that filter by keyword, grade level, Common Core reading anchors, and articles with machine scored quizzes?
If your answer to even one of those questions is yes, then I’ve got a list of tools just for you. All of them are web-based tools that use current events and contemporary topics to engage kids and all provide the chance for you to to encourage the development of skills required by the ELA literacy standards for History / Government. While at the same aligning to state standards that ask us to connect the past with contemporary events.
So why should we worry about current events? The simple reason is that connecting past and present is good for student retention and encourages critical thinking skills. Not to mention our state standards are asking kids to connect past choices, rights, responsibilities, ideas, beliefs, and relationships to “contemporary events.”
So today you get a few online tools and some helpful strategies that focus on current events: 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
“What thoughtful, intelligent people do with their brains is to mull over inconsistency. When two ideas are in conflict and you have to struggle to make sense of that conflict, that is when thinking starts.”
One of the many topics that a group of teachers and I messed with earlier this week was the idea of using debates in class. How can we set up activities during which kids support specific positions using evidence – which is good – without having the debate disintegrate into emotional arguing – which is bad?
Civil discourse. Evidence-based discussion. Consensus building. Solving problems together.
Yelling. Emotion-based arguments. Talk show pundits acting like children. Winners and losers. No solutions.
And you gotta know . . . Read more
In my perfect world as a map nerd, I would have grown up living my life as if I were David Rumsey. Make a ton of money and spend that money finding and archiving historical maps. Then figure out ways to share those maps with other people.
Because that sounds like a very sweet way to spend my time.
If you’re not familiar with the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, you need to head over and check out his more than 55,000 maps digitized maps, the more than 150 Google Earth layers, and the nine different mapping tools. Be prepared to spend some serious time here. There is just so much cool stuff.
One of the easiest ways to find handy maps for use in your classroom is to use the