Several days ago, I wrote a quick post highlighting an article from The Atlantic titled The Problem with History Classes. In it, author Michael Conway suggests that traditional social studies instruction that focuses on the “right” answers doesn’t allow for enough academic discomfort. Social studies teachers need to go beyond basic foundational knowledge and create a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty in how things are going to work out.
One suggestion from Conway? If our students really are going to learn and master historical thinking skills, it is “absolutely essential that they read a diverse set of historians” and learn how a variety of historians who are scrutinizing the same topic can reach different conclusions.
But what can that look like? You may want to try an activity using hexagons – it’s an activity that can help your students grapple with historical viewpoints and start to understand connections between them.
The concept has been around for a while with lots of teachers using hexagons as part of a larger idea called SOLO. The basic idea is that Read more
Back last May, I highlighted three iPad apps that I called the perfect trifecta – apps that focused on the creation of digital products using visuals, text, and audio. One of my favorites on that list is an app called Voice. Voice is a very easy to use tool that captures your voice and overlays that audio on top of images, background music, and transitions.
The end result is a web-based video that can be quickly shared with others. I really love it for end of unit student projects. Simple to use. Lots of copyright free images. Background music built in. A wide variety of transitions and themes. Very slick.
Adobe just released Slate. Read more
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