Category Archives: history

Summer Road Trip – Have Fun And Get Some Professional Development

adam-topliff

This week’s blogger is Adam Topliff: He teaches 8th Grade Social Studies and Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  Adam loves all things Hamilton!

 

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Congratulations! You’ve made it to summer! Now take a deep breath and relax for moment.  You should allow yourself some quality time with your family, catch up on some reading (ask Glenn Wiebe if you are looking for some good reads), and maybe do some things to make yourself better at your craft.  

In recent years, summer professional development has become a popular trend and is taking on many forms.  There are great webinars and online opportunities.  Check out Twitter. You will find a great variety of chats and great people posting awesome ideas to steal.  You can partake in the face to face opportunities (insert my shameless plug for KSDE Summer Institutes) along with many other organizations that have great professional development options.  These might not be for you, either because of time or resources, but that does not mean you can’t get some quality professional development.

I love to use my summer family road trips to squeeze in some quality self-paced professional development.  Every summer, the Topliff Crew heads to a variety of places around this great state and nation to explore and expose our kids to as much as we can. This summer, we have planned four days in New York City and we are pretty pumped! Each year as we plan our trip, I look into what the area has to offer historically.  With New York City, the trip practically planned itself.  We included many things related to Hamilton, including a visit to the famed Fraunces Tavern. Continue reading Summer Road Trip – Have Fun And Get Some Professional Development

Detecting Bias: Quick and Easy Lesson Applications for Practicing this Essential Skill (Part 1)

In the ongoing battle between serious, fact-based interpretation of current events and the onslaught of “fake news” stories being spread throughout social media (and beyond),debate headlines 21st century social studies teachers face a daunting task.  How can we possibly help students develop the necessary skills in order navigate the confusing blizzard of information they encounter on a daily basis?  Even still, who has enough hours in the day to both cover all the required content and engage in current events activities that encompass more than reading an article and answering a few questions?

As a veteran teacher believe me, I feel your pain.  My colleague Joe Zlatnik and I have spent time the past few years talking with teachers throughout the country about how they address bias in their classrooms.  The consensus we have heard is that most teachers don’t address it since they don’t have time to teach “current events.”  With this in mind we developed a set of simple activities that can help kids practice the skill of detecting bias within the framework of US and World history courses.  I will explain one of these activities in this first part of a three part series.

Continue reading Detecting Bias: Quick and Easy Lesson Applications for Practicing this Essential Skill (Part 1)

Who Has Influenced Mankind? Let Your Students Be The Judge Of That – The Historical Hall Of Fame

adam-topliffThis week’s post comes to you from Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  I love all things Hamilton!

 

 

Spring Break History Nerdfest for the Topliff Family took us to lovely Kansas City and man, it was amazing.  We took in the Negro League Baseball and National World War I Museums, looked out over the city atop the Liberty Memorial, and got our fill of great KC BBQ. (Thanks Arthur Bryant’s!)  As we took in all of the great stories at the museums, my family and I discussed all the powerful stories of people who have impacted the story of us.  So many people of our past never have their story told, primarily because they may not be seen as the big names of history.  

Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy are names that will show up in every text book, but they are not the only influential people that have shaped our history.  The story of us is filled with millions of ordinary people that might not have stories that flash off the page, but they are just as critical.  This important part of telling history became the backbone for a project I created called The Historical Hall of Fame.

A decade ago, in my first year at Wamego Middle School, I was looking for a long term project that would engage my students in one of the most difficult times of the year, after state testing and weeks before the end of the school.  Being a fairly new teacher, I struggled to find something that my students could manage. Continue reading Who Has Influenced Mankind? Let Your Students Be The Judge Of That – The Historical Hall Of Fame

“The Anti-Washington”: Using Art as a Historical Tool in World History Class

I believe that a key aspect of “doing” social studies is to give kids the opportunity to not only connect prior knowledge to the content being studied, but also allow them the chance to reevaluate their opinion of historical figures using new knowledge that is presented.  Teaching high school world history normally involves introducing students to a wide range of individuals, concepts and events.  Trying to help students achieve some level of mastery of these concepts can seem daunting, especially if you are not able to tap into that reservoir of knowledge that the kids bring with them into the room.  In teaching the French Revolution and its aftermath I attempt to achieve this by bringing in the single historical figure in which kids are the most familiar: George Washington.  In the process I also give the students a chance to flex their non-text discipline specific literacy muscles by analyzing two pieces of art work that say an awful lot about the subjects of depicted in each.

Continue reading “The Anti-Washington”: Using Art as a Historical Tool in World History Class

Flags, Flags, Flags… and a CONTEST!!!!

As a guest post this week, Mike Cronin of Gettysburg Flag Works, shares some things you can do in the classroom and has agreed to SPONSOR A FLAG CONTEST where one lucky reader will WIN A FREE FLAG!!!!  The details can be found in the blog post so make sure you read the entire post!!!!–BB

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As we educate students about American history, we tend to focus more on the events than on the civic observances that are part of history, too. However, understanding that Memorial Day is about more than parades and barbecues, and that there is a correct and incorrect way to display an American flag is also an important part of our culture. Continue reading Flags, Flags, Flags… and a CONTEST!!!!