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Posts tagged ‘tip of the week’

Tip of the Week: 8 great elementary social studies teaching ideas and one great conference

It seems like a natural fit. Combine social studies content such as early American colonies with important ELA skills such as close reading and writing to support a claim. Great secondary social studies teachers have been doing this sort of thing forever. Create an engaging question. Encourage the use and analysis of primary, secondary, and literary sources. Provide print and digital tools for the creation of solutions to the question.

But for elementary teachers, this process can seem intimidating. And time-consuming. And confusing. For years, NCLB encouraged a focus on math and ELA. Social studies found itself on the fringes of most elementary building schedules. So most K-6 teachers, many without a strong background in social studies and without the support for finding ways to integrate social studies into their instruction, have been doing very little with the discipline.

That’s changing. Current state and national standards in both ELA and social studies are now asking grade schools to shift their instructional model. Common Core literacy standards for history and government are encouraging the use of social studies content as the vehicle for developing reading, writing, and speaking skills.

That’s the good thing. The bad thing? Read more

Professional learning doesn’t have to be face to face: These tools can help

One of the most enjoyable things I get to do is finding things that make life better and easier for teachers and students. Sometimes those things are online sites and tools. Sometimes those things are ideas that teachers share. And sometimes those things are products that are created here at ESSDACK.

Today I want to share three products that we’ve designed specifically to support social studies teachers in their own professional learning and as they teach historical thinking skills. Our goal is simple – find ways to help teachers learn in non-traditional ways. For years at ESSDACK, we’ve worked to create quality face-to-face professional learning opportunities.

But we also want to offer tools and products that encourage you to learn and work where and when is best for you. So I’ve created a few products that you can use as Read more

Tip of the week: 3 reasons why your kids should be Sketchnoting

Yesterday I spent a few minutes on a quick rant blaming laptops and mobile devices for being the reason for the terrible KC Royals pitching, destroying the rainforest, causing the downfall of the Roman Empire, and ruining your students’ educational experience.

Okay. Mostly just the student educational experience thing.

A brief recap. Research is suggesting that when college students use technology to capture lecture notes, both short and long term learning declines when compared to students who captured lecture notes using the old fashioned paper and pencil method. Tech tools seem to encourage verbatim note-taking that focuses on capturing every word rather than on capturing only information that is important – on copy and pasting rather than evaluating and summarizing. Paper and pencil force the student to make decisions about what’s important and then to transform that information into a personal version of the lecture or video.

It’s this personalizing feature of paper and pencil that improves retention and learning.

And, yes, it’s college kids not K-12. And, no, you don’t lecture all of the time. But I’m gonna suggest that the experiences of middle and high school students would not be that much different from the college kids cited in the research.

So using tech to take notes is bad. Now what? Read more

Tip of the Week: 10 Primary Source Integration Ideas from the Library of Congress (Part Deux)

Three years ago, Mary J. Johnson, an educational consultant to the Library of Congress, created a two part article on the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog highlighting primary source integration strategies. The first post of the two-part series offered ten suggestions for filling your room with engaging primary sources. I’ve adapted her second post highlighting ways that primary sources promote systematic critical thinking and posted it below. These are starting points for you to adapt for your own grade level and content area.

The point? That the Library of Congress needs to be one of your go-tos, must use, constant companion tool of choice.

(And when you’re done here, be sure to head over and bookmark the excellent LOC blog Teaching with the Library of Congress.) Read more

Tip of the Week: Primary Source Integration Ideas from the Library of Congress

Three years ago, Mary J. Johnson, an educational consultant to the Library of Congress, created a two part article on the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog highlighting primary source integration strategies. I’ve adapted and posted Part One below.


As a teacher, you can saturate your classroom with primary sources from the Library of Congress to promote critical thinking and inquiry. Think of every surface, including computer screens, as potential display spaces for primary sources – photographs, cartoons, music, films, maps, historic newspapers, artifacts, and more. Add document analysis sheets and critical thinking prompts from the Library’s page for teachers, and you’ll have a constant source of primary source conversation starters at your fingertips.

But what are some specific strategies for introducing primary sources to students? Let’s start with these ten: Read more

HSTRY now with real time collaboration

In Kansas, one of our state standards focuses on the idea that choices have consequences. Our document encourages teachers to use strategies that help kids to “identify and defend a variety of possible causes of events, and the resulting consequences, encourages appropriate decision-making and helps students understand the complexity of the various disciplines.”

And one of the tools I urge teachers to use as part of the learning process is the simple timeline. They might seem like super basic things but timelines truly are powerful strategies for helping kids understand cause and effect and context. They’re also great for building the ability to evaluate and analyze choices.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with the old fashioned paper and pencil timeline.

But . . . I have been a big fan of the HSTRY timeline tool ever since it came out several years ago.

HSTRY may be one of the best digital learning tools you’ll run across. It is just that cool. Simple description? HSTRY is a web-based service that encourages both teachers and students to create their own interactive timelines that support collaboration and the use of multimedia elements. Read more