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Posts tagged ‘tip’

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #4: Blackout Poetry

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


Okay. I know that movies about teachers rarely tell the whole story. You know the ones I’m talking about – movies like:

black-out-poetry logo

  • Stand and Deliver
  • Freedom Writers
  • Dangerous Minds
  • Mr. Holland’s Opus
  • Lean On Me

They rarely show the hours of grading, the phone calls from parents, IEP meetings, kids throwing up on your shoes, music program practice, endless committees, extra duties, coaching – though there does always seem to be some sort of happy ending.

But ya know . . . I still enjoy ’em. My favorite? Read more

Fake news is why you exist. And 12 tools that can help

Okay. Basic question.

“If I asked you to describe what you do every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Let me rephrase that a bit.

“If I asked you to describe what you should be doing every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Here’s my point. I think that we can get so caught up in the everyday that we sometimes forget why we exist. Grading papers. Taking roll. Going to meetings. Calling parents. Trying to keep middle school kids from setting things on fire. That’s a typical day in your life. I get that.

But I’m going to suggest today that we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

What’s the prize? Why do we exist?

The National Council for the Social Studies College, Career, and Civic Life Standards does a pretty good job of summing it up: Read more

Tip of the Week: 8 decades of super cool declassified CIA maps

We all love maps. We all love cool historical artifacts. And we all love spy gadgets. What better place to get all three than the Central Intelligence Agency?

I’ve always known about the CIA World Factbook. You all probably already use that tool for geography, world history, and government. But I just found out about the CIA Flickr account. Who knew? They’ve uploaded multiple albums and collections with recently declassified maps, artifacts, and cool spy museum goodies.

The best part of the Flickr account for me is the eight decades Read more

Crop It: hands on primary source analysis strategy

I’ve had the chance over the last few weeks to spend a lot of time working with both elementary and secondary teachers on effective uses of primary sources. Together, we shared a wide variety of both digital and paper / pencil strategies that support historical thinking.

One of the easiest but most effective strategies is called Crop It. In some ways, it’s a lot like my Evidence Analysis Window Frame but I really like the flexibility embedded in the Crop It idea. The idea is pretty simple: students use L-shaped paper “cropping” tools to explore a visual or textual primary source.

One of the problems that we often face is finding ways to help students see details – and to make sense of the those details – when viewing a primary source. Photos, paintings, and graphics can contain a ton of specifics that get missed if students don’t take the time to look for them.

Crop It slows this process down so that students scan a source at a deep level and think about what they’re looking at. It gives them a way to find evidence, see multiple viewpoints, and gain a more detailed understanding of a primary source.

This strategy works especially well with elementary and middle school students to help them develop and support historical thinking. And the cool thing is that you can use it with all sorts of visual sources.

Step One:

Read more

Tip of the Week: TRAP3 equals sweet strategy that encourages argumentative writing

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with Meghan McDermott while we were both attending a Library of Congress gathering. She’s doing some amazing things with her middle schools kids, including having them write a ton.

She’s using a variety of successful strategies (You’re gonna want to check out her 7th graders Seven Themes of History Memes.) but I especially fell in love with her TRAP3 tool. Teachers I work with are always looking for handy tools that can help kids think historically and to write using evidence. And Meghan’s TRAP3 organizer seems like a great way to help students structure historical arguments. I asked if I could share her great ideas with you – not only did she agree but she sent examples, presentation slides, and student work.

The beauty of the TRAP3 is that it provides a powerful structure that makes it easier for kids to develop not just an opening paragraph but a clear outline for their essay.

What is the TRAP3? Read more

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