I recently ran into a guy named Michael following a session at a social studies conference. Michael teaches history in a large, urban high school with a ton of low SES and ELL kids. His situation seemed so desperate to me that I had to ask him what strategies he used to convey content and meaning, how he got kids to makes sense of historical information.
He began sharing some of ideas and I realized that his situation wasn’t desperate. The kids in his classes – the low SES kids, the ELL kids – are learning and they’re learning at high levels. And it’s because of Michael.
I’ve read the ton of research out there documenting the importance of quality teachers. But it was fun to actually sit down and talk with someone who knows the content, who understands what works, and spends time honing his craft. To talk with someone whose actions suggest that the research is right.
Glenn Wiebe was digging around the vault over at History Tech looking for some resources centered around the Kansans Can school redesign and ran across this rant written just after the 2013 state standards went live. With those standards currently in the revision process and the state of Kansas deep into conversations about changing how we do school, it seems appropriate to re-post it here. Basically, it boils down to:
How much are we willing to change so that our kids are prepared for their future?
It’s been a fun couple of months since the holiday break. I’ve had the chance to spend time with a variety of folks doing all sorts of cool stuff. A group of us have been struggling to write questions for the social studies state assessment pilot due out this spring.
I’ve spent time with teachers discussing social studies best practices that are aligned to the state’s recently adopted state standards. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of teachers as we shared ideas and discussed ways to integrate technology into instruction.
It’s all part of what is perhaps the best job in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves spending time with dedicated, amazing people who are literally changing the world?
But . . . sometimes I walk away feeling a little uncomfortable after spending time with teachers. Once in a great while, I leave a group angry. And while I honestly think I do a good job of hiding my feelings, I’m starting to think those feelings need to be a bit more obvious.
During a recent trip through different parts of Texas, I got the chance to lead several teacher conversations around these three questions. We worked together to share strategies and resources designed around creating knowledgeable, thinking, and active citizens.
With a specific goal of training our kids to be effective consumers of online information. So our conversation wasn’t just about fake news – it was also about online civic literacy.
The humanities interrogate us. They challenge our sense of who we are, even of who our brothers and sisters might be.
“It could have been me” is the threshold for the vistas that literature and art make available to us . . . education is not about memorizing poems or knowing when X wrote Y, and what Z had to say about it. It is, instead, about the human record that is available to us in libraries and museums and theaters and online. But that record lives and breathes; it is not calculable or teachable via numbers or bullet points. Instead, it requires something that we never fail to do before buying clothes: Trying the garment on.
Art and literature are tried on. Reading a book, seeing a painting or a play or a film: Such encounters are fueled by affect as well as intelligence. Much “fleshing out” happens here: We invest the art with our own feelings, but the art comes to live inside us, adding to our own repertoire. Art obliges us to “first-personalize” the world. Our commerce with art makes us fellow travelers: to other cultures, other values, other selves.
Today’s post is a cross post from Glenn Wiebe and his History Tech site. Glenn loves to read and today, he shares about his habit of creating a summer reading list.
Long time History Tech readers already know this. Every summer, I make a list of books I plan to read between now and September. Long time History Tech readers also know this. Not once, not ever, a couple of times I came close but never ever, have I actually finished the list.
There’s always been something. I get distracted with a new book that comes out or some event happens that pulls me in a different direction. But some day . . . some day, it’s gonna happen. I’m trying to be realistic this year. Part of me says; yes, this summer it’s gonna happen – you’re going on a long anniversary trip to a tropical beach without the tech. Tons of time for book reading while sipping cool beverages under an umbrella.
The other part of me says; not a chance – as soon as you get home, the World Cup starts and the rest of June and part of July are shot to h, e, double hockey sticks. So we’ll see. (But it does help with the reading goal that the US team apparently forgot how to play the game and didn’t qualify, giving me less reason to watch. Go Iceland.)
The whole idea here got started moons ago when I first started teaching and some very smart people encouraged me to not take the summers off. They’re the perfect time for learning, they said. Read a book, they said. Maybe two or more, they said.
So I did. And they were right. We need to keep learning, keep asking questions, keep moving forward. And what better time for that than between now and September? Some summers I start with a specific theme. This year? Not so much. Just a few books that look interesting or fun to read.