Four times a year, I get the chance to be part of the ESSDACK social studies PLC. The PLC is an offshoot of our last Teaching American History grant with the same goal – improve our history / social studies teaching knowledge and skills.
And last Wednesday, we got ton of both from Sheryl of the awesome Echoes and Reflections site. Sheryl’s on a nationwide tour, providing professional learning opportunities across the country, sharing strategies, best practices, and resources for teaching the Jewish Holocaust.
It was a powerful and emotional day, aligning perfectly with our focus this fall on teaching controversial and uncomfortable topics. (You can still access our September Google Doc with teaching resources and ideas.) Sheryl used part of the day to highlight different sections at Echoes and Reflections but much of her focus was on how best to integrate the Holocaust into our instruction.
First things first, the Echoes and Reflections site is a must see. Read more
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of yelling going on. Social media. Cable news. Local coffee shops. People disagreeing, not getting along, refusing to compromise their “values.”
And school classrooms can seem like a safe space where we can protect our students from all of that ugliness. Education Week survey data gathered back in February suggested that many teachers find it difficult to talk about race, politics, and other controversial topics. Almost 30 percent expressly avoid it completely. Part of the problem is that many of us – 44 percent – don’t feel prepared to lead conversations that might get emotional.
So . . . two questions here. Read more
No, I didn’t see it.
So I can’t say with 100% certainty that The Emjoi Movie was as terrible as the critics say it was. But apparently . . . it really was terrible. Not even Patrick Stewart and Sofía Vergara could save it.
But . . . wait for it.
Using emojis as part of your instructional design can help improve student thinking and literacy skills.
I know. I know. You’re thinking that using little graphic images instead of text is no way to teach historical thinking and literacy. And you’d be right. But what if we used little graphic images, great guiding questions, proven historical thinking strategies together with reading and writing activities?
Now I think we’ve got something.
You can get an idea of the potential by taking a look at how Omaha middle school teacher Lance Mosier used emojis to help kids understand what life was like for soldiers fighting in the Civil War. Read more
We all know the story. A group of guys from different parts of the country with different ideas of how to govern got together and came up with a pretty amazing document. It’s a great story with a pretty amazing cast. (I’m looking at you #Hamilton.) And we all have our favorite actors in that story. My fave?
He’s kind of like the sleeper pick in your fantasy football league – everyone knows he’s out there but they ignore him because all the focus is on Jefferson or Madison or one of the other first rounders. But you draft him anyway cause you know he’s got the skills.
Ben was smart, irreverent, great with people, well-read, the ladies loved him, he had that whole kite / electricity / scientist thing working, and was by far the best part of 1776 and John Adams. What’s not to love?
And so it’s fun to go back and read some of what Ben had to say about the document he was preparing to sign in 1787: Read more
It’s a little bit the perfect storm. Tomorrow is Women’s Equality Day, Constitution Day is in a few weeks, and Kansas is encouraging schools across the state to develop civic engagement programs.
So it seems like a good time to share a few lessons and resources that focus on voting rights. Use the resources below to help your students develop context, connect past events with contemporary issues, and practice historical thinking skills. Read more
The Kansas state social studies standards are designed to “prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, engaged citizens as they enrich their communities, state, nation, world, and themselves.” Different benchmarks under each of the standards require that students make connections between the past and contemporary issues.
The recent Kansans Can Vision developed by the Department of Ed is pushing schools throughout the state to focus on authentic civic engagement and integrate it across grades and content areas.
I’m sure that you have similar sorts of standards and expectations where you teach.
It’s pretty simple really. When kids are informed and thoughtful, when they understand the necessity for being civically engaged, and when they actually put into practice the ideas outlined in the founding documents, our communities and our country are a better place.
And now . . . we have the recent events in Charlottesville.
Your task as a social studies teacher has never been easy. Connecting past to present can make it harder. Conversations about race and violence harder still. It can be easy to just wait for things to blow over. But if we truly believe that what we do makes a difference, those conversations need to happen.
What can that sort of conversation look like?
The words of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are a good place to start: Read more