Category Archives: books

Russel Tarr & A History Teaching Toolbox

(Cross-posted from History Tech.)

Part of what I get to do is spend time browsing the Interwebs finding tools and resources that would be useful for history and social studies teachers. Sometimes I find new stuff like the very cool Smithsonian Learning Labs and sometimes I just keep going back to the classics.

Russel Tarr is one of the classics. His Active History site (along with his ClassTools and Tarr’s Toolbox) always has some new strategy or tool that I haven’t seen and it’s always something useful. I’m really not sure how he finds time to actually teach but he’s been doing this for almost twenty years.

He has a degree in Modern World History from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University and is currently Head of History at the International School of Toulouse, France. On his free time, he delivers training courses to history teachers in the UK and Europe, writes regularly for the national and international press on historical and educational issues, and is a prominent figure in the educational community on Twitter – where he is one the most followed history teachers in the world.

All of this to say that he knows what he’s talking about. And it just got better. Continue reading Russel Tarr & A History Teaching Toolbox

Play Like a Pirate – Fun needs to be a part of what you do

I spent part of the morning chatting with golfing buddy and educational expert Steve Wyckoff. He’s got a way of sucking people into unplanned conversations that end up making everyone smarter. It’s always a good time when it starts with Steve’s signature line:

“So what’s become clear to you?”

This morning wasn’t any different.

We spent perhaps an hour meandering around a matrix that focuses on levels of engagement matrixstudent engagement. The different quadrants of the matrix ask students to think about how challenging a class is and whether they love or hate it. We’re thinking about using this to get usable data from middle and high school students. As in, “pick a quadrant that best describes each of your classes.”

We talked about how we could use this collected data to help design high quality professional learning. We chatted about what does the word challenging mean. How grit and rigor might figure into the matrix. And how an Uber business model might impact how kids complete the matrix.

The scary thing?

I think a lot of kids sit in classes that could easily fit in the Grind quadrant.

Part of the solution? Continue reading Play Like a Pirate – Fun needs to be a part of what you do

Inspiration from American Colossus Part Two: The Ascendancy Cycle

brands bookIn my previous post I wrote of the inspiration I gained from H.W. Brands’ book American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865-1900; specifically how Brands discussion of the dueling natures of capitalism and democracy could lead to a solid classroom discussion in an 11th grade US History course.

This post is regarding another aspect of Brands’ thesis, something that Brands calls the ascendancy cycle in American history.  What follows is far from a polished lesson, but instead the beginnings of an idea that hopefully will result in something beneficial for my students.

In the book, Brands claims that the competition between the forces of pure capitalism and pure democracy can be used to characterize the last 200 years of American history.  This competition has resulted in the proponents of each of these founding principles consolidating power, furthering their beliefs, losing that power to the opposing group as they create policy furthering their agenda, so on and so forth.  I believe that looking at US history through this lens provides students a concrete example of the ebbs and flows of American politics and how these elections can fundamentally alter the course of the nation. Continue reading Inspiration from American Colossus Part Two: The Ascendancy Cycle

Reading as professional development and capitalism vs. democracy

Welcome to Scott Peavey, high school US and World history teacher at Gardner Edgerton. Scott will be writing regular posts as the newest KCSS board member.

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As social studies teachers we constantly are finding little tidbits of information in our everyday “civilian” lives that create that special spark.  I consider that spark to be the feeling of creativity and insight that educators get whenever they identify an opportunity to cultivate a teachable moment in their classroom.  The source materials for these sparks are diverse; anything from reading the news to watching my one-year old son race across the living room floor.  Over the last week I felt that spark as I was undergoing the most cost-efficient social studies professional development there is . . . reading.

triumphI recently began H.W. Brand’s book American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865-1900.  Last school year was my first formally teaching 11th grade US History and I quickly found that the Gilded Age and the rise of the industrialists was a weak point in my content arsenal.  My goal in reading this book Continue reading Reading as professional development and capitalism vs. democracy

Summer reading list 2015

beach reading

It’s a Wiebe tradition.

The annual summer reading list.

For as long as I’ve been in education, I’ve had a summer reading list. Several of my early mentors suggested that the summer is a perfect time for personal professional learning.Develop a list of professional and fun books. Commit to reading them. Talk about the content with others. I eventually came around to the idea and learned to love it.

My wife, also an educator, started doing it. Later, we passed on the idea to our kids. The cool thing is that we’re all still committed to it. The best summer was the year my wife and I took a tech naked trip to the beach. Without the internet, there’s was nothing to do but sit in the sand and read. Awesome.

Of course, in all of the years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve never actually finished the original list. Schedules change. Books aren’t as good as I had hoped. It’s easy to get sidetracked. Work. Travel. Family stuff. But the idea is still a good one. It makes us better educators. And isn’t that part of the job?

So even though I’m pretty sure I won’t finish it, I still make the list. Cause one of these years, it’s gonna happen. All the books, all the way through. Really. I’m serious. This year for sure.

The 2015 Summer Reading List

Continue reading Summer reading list 2015