For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.
And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.
Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more
We all love the History Channel. And we all love the Cooking Channel. So why not the History Cooking Channel?
Yup. The History Cooking Channel. A YouTube channel dedicated to exploring all things related to the 1700s – with a cool focus on cooking, food, baking, and eating.
It’s a perfect supplementary resource for you US and World history types. You get hundreds of quick videos highlighting how people cooked and ate during the 1700s. Kids can experience Read more
I had the privilege to meet Shana Crosson from the Minnesota Historical Society face to face earlier this week at the #ISTE2016 conference. And I walked away smarter than I was before. But not just smarter. After several conversations and listening to Shana work her magic at her poster sessions, I left Denver incredibly impressed with what she and others at the MNHS are doing to support historical thinking and technology integration in K-12 classrooms.
Shana’s session, created with help from MNHS Education Outreach Specialist Jessica Ellison, focused on ways to help teachers and kids use primary sources images as part of the learning process. These are skills that we all should be using as social studies teachers.
We live in an increasingly visual world. Students are bombarded with strong visual images all day, in school and out of school. Learning how to read historic images empowers students to learn essential critical thinking skills that can be used on any image, document or other primary source, whether it’s historic or contemporary.
She provided a ton of reasons for using images, sites for finding useful images, and strategies for integrating them into instruction.
Advantages of Images: Read more
Our job as social studies teachers is not to give our students the answers. Our job is to create great questions and then train kids to be able to address those questions. To model and facilitate the practice of reading, writing, and thinking like historians.
Rather than passively receiving information from us or our textbooks, students should be actively engaged in the activities of historians — making sense of the stories, events and ideas of the past through document analysis.
And one of the tools that every history / social studies teacher should be using to help with all of this is the incredible National Archives site DocsTeach. I first wrote about DocsTeach when it debuted six years ago in 2010. The idea of the site at the time?
the project is designed to provide useful document-based lesson plans and activities created by both NARA staff members and classroom teachers.
And it was awesome. Tons of primary sources from the National Archives. Activities that focused on and supported historical thinking skills. The ability to create your own activities, save them, and share them digitally with your students. For 2010, it truly was cutting edge.
But it debuted before mobile devices and iPads. Before national standards such as the NCSS C3 Framework and Common Core Lit standards. Before Wineburg’s Reading Like a Historian and SHEG. Before online primary evidence archives were commonplace. So even though it was an incredible idea put into practice, it was a bit clunky and not super user friendly in 2016.
But not anymore. DocsTeach just got a massive upgrade. And now there is no excuse not to use it. Because not only can you still access thousands of primary sources, borrow from an ever-expanding collection of document-based activities, and create your own online activities, there are some very sweet changes and additions to the site.
I’m not going to lie to you. It’s never easy but this year may be a bit rougher than normal.
Regular readers already know this – every summer since I finished my first year as a middle school US history teacher, I’ve had a summer reading list. A couple of very smart mentors suggested that I needed to take responsibility for my own professional growth and that reading for both work and pleasure during the slower summer months was a non-negotiable.
Best. Advice. Ever. And it’s was more than just a reading list – it’s more the idea that I needed to focus on continual improvement and the list was a practical way to make that happen. So . . . pick some books with content. Some with process. Some for fun. And start the fall semester smarter than when I left in the spring.
But this year could be tough. Both son and daughter are in the area and suggested that we do a summer family book group. Each of us pick a book, read it, discuss it, broaden the horizons. Great idea, right? Sure, who’s going to say no to that?
The problem is that I have never, not once, not ever, finished my own summer list. And the family book club idea just added four extra books that I can’t ignore to the list.
But I’m still creating the List. Cause . . . you know. It could happen. I could finish. I’m not kidding around this year.
The theme this summer? Politics and presidential elections. Read more