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Posts tagged ‘tip’

Tip of the Week: 5 graphic organizers you’re probably not using but should be

Most of you are already familiar with the idea of document analysis worksheets. These sorts of tools are perfect for scaffolding historical thinking skills for your kids. Some of the best, created by the Library of Congress and the National Archives, have been around for years. I also really like the stuff created by the Stanford History Education group, especially their Historical Thinking Chart.

We should be using all of those evidence analysis tools with our kids. They can be especially helpful for training elementary and middle school students to gather and organize evidence while solving authentic problems. And for high school kids without a strong background in historical thinking skills, the tools provided by the LOC, NARA, and SHEG are incredibly useful to guide thinking.

But what about other types of graphic organizers? Are there some organizers you should be using but aren’t? Spoiler alert. Yes.
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Tip of the Week: 3 tech tool types that support distraction free literacy

It used to be called “writing across the curriculum.” Years ago, in Derby Middle School,  I remember WAC being the latest educational buzzword. And it was a good idea. Literacy – reading, writing, communicating – is something that should be happening in all the content areas. But for a lot of reasons, WAC theory and actual practice never seem to align.

Of course, good teachers have been integrating literacy skills into their instruction both before and after WAC. That practice is now encouraged and supported with the latest trend – literacy standards embedded as part of historical thinking and social studies best practice.

It’s still a good idea.

Our students should be reading, writing, and communicating in the specific social studies disciplines. And I know you’re having kids do it. But finding the right tools to support literacy can be difficult. Using paper and pencil is always available . . . though without options for easy collaboration, editing, and sharing. Google Drive provides options for that sort of stuff but it’s still not available in some districts.

And even if it is available, using Drive and other online writing tools are not always the ideal writing environment. It’s easy to get distracted – Look! A squirrel / Facebook / Flipboard / Social Media / Texts – and lose focus. We know that these distractions make it more difficult to come back to the writing process. And even if we are able to resist the blackhole of YouTube Grumpy Cat videos, we can get distracted by the bells and whistles of word processors, focusing so much on format and editing and process that we have difficulty getting words out.

So today? Some tools to help you and students stay focused on the task of writing. Read more

Tip of the Week: Back to school ideas for social studies teachers

We have two very simple unbendable, unbreakable rules in our house. No Christmas music allowed before Thanksgiving. No talking about school before August.

It’s August. So . . . we’re talking about school.

Spoiler alert.

If you’re not already at school, you’re heading there soon.

You probably already knew that. And you probably already have some idea of what you and your students will be doing during the first few days of school. But it’s always nice to have a few extra tips and tricks in your bookbag to start off the school year.

So today? The sixth annual Back to School Ideas in a Social Studies Classroom post. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Add your own ideas in the comments.

What not to do

Before we get to the good stuff it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t work. Read more

Tip of the Week: Using board games for teaching and learning

Video games and simulations have always been part of my instructional DNA. I started out with a basic but powerfully engaging archeology simulation during my first month in the classroom, used text-based games to teach medieval Japan, added PC based simulations to highlight economic impacts, integrated cutscenes into instruction, encouraged the use of game specific wikis for building content knowledge and have watched first person shooter console games used to embed students into World War II.

I’ve also had the chance to work with a variety of software developers to pilot several different computer and online based simulations. So . . . yes. A firm believer in the use of video games and gaming theory as part of teaching and learning.

But not until recently have I given much thought to using board games in the same way as video games and sims. Most social studies teachers have incorporated some sort of paper-based or board game-based simulation as part of they do. But there is a whole different level of board game out there. This is more than just Monopoly or the simple roll the dice to see what happens to your Gold Rush bound wagon train. Read more

Tip of the Week: It’s official. Zoom In just went live.

It’s official. Zoom In just went live. And you and your kids so need this.

I know that I’ve mentioned Zoom In before. But a year ago, the tool was still in beta. The signup process was a bit clunky and the lessons were still in development. So I was incredibly excited to find out that last month, Zoom In is officially official. The site has been remodeled, signup is a snap, and all 18 lessons are ready to go.

If you missed my earlier excitement about Zoom In, here’s a brief recap. Zoom In is a free, web-based platform that helps students build literacy and historical thinking skills through “deep dives” into primary and secondary sources.

Zoom In’s online learning environment features 18 content-rich U.S. history units that supplement your regular instruction and help you use technology to support students’ mastery of both content and skills required by the most recent state and national social studies standards: Read more

Tip of the Week: 25 moments that changed history

I ran across an article on my Flipboard from Time the other day. Titled “25 Moments that Changed America,” the article highlights “instances big and small that cleared the way for something greater to come after. Many of those moments are easy to name: the assassinations, the invasions, the elections. Many are more subtle, their impact visible only in hindsight.”

You see lists like this every once in a while. With some sites, it seems as if that’s all you see. But I click on them anyway. I think we all do. I’m pretty sure there’s some part of the brain that is attracted to lists. So don’t judge my title.

As history folks, we’re especially drawn to that sort of list because, well . . . we’re nerds. We like history trivia. We like learning. We like connecting pieces of the past to the present. So of course we read the list. You’re probably over there right now.

But I also hope that you’re drawn to the list because you know that it might be the foundation for a great lesson or activity.  Read more

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