Category Archives: literacy

Using dialogue poems to compare, contrast, highlight perspective

montana-hsMartha Kohl works at the Montana Historical Society as an Education Specialist and publishes an awesome site with great teaching ideas called Teaching Montana History. Like most blogs that focus on state or local history, you can always find strategies and ideas that can cross over to other content and areas.

A recent Martha article titled “Writing Dialogue Poems to Compare Points of View” is like that. The idea of using poetry to connect emotion with content can be powerful and something social studies teachers should try more often. In her article, Martha shares an idea that she read over at Tarr’s Toolbox. And it is such a great idea, we asked to cross-post it here. Thanks, both Martha and Russel – you guys rock! Continue reading Using dialogue poems to compare, contrast, highlight perspective

Argumentative writing prompts, scaffolded tasks, and using evidence

citation-neededWe want our students to grapple more with content, to think historically, and solve problems. One of the ways we can support this behavior is by asking our kids to think and write to support a claim using evidence.

Here in the great state of Kansas University basketball, our standards and assessment use the term “argumentative writing” to describe the process of supporting claims with evidence. That phrase can sound a little too much like some of last  year’s presidential debates or this month’s childish Twitter wars but . . . asking kids to create an argument and to support that argument really is a good thing. We want them to be able to look at a problem, gather and organize evidence, and use that evidence to create a well-supported argument.

As many of us move from a content focused instructional model to one that instead asks students to use that content in authentic ways, it can sometimes be difficult knowing how to actually have them write argumentatively. But there are resources available to help with your lesson design.

We’ve gone back to an earlier post from our partner blog History Tech to cherry pick some of our favorites. Pick and choose the ones that work best for you. Continue reading Argumentative writing prompts, scaffolded tasks, and using evidence

The Room Where it Happens

This week’s blogger is Joe Zlatnik, 8th grade American History teacher in the Basehor-Linwood school district near Kansas City.

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hamilton-logoThe Broadway musical, Hamilton, is everywhere! In the past year, the musical has become a cultural phenomena that has taken the US by storm. As a lover of history, I was quick to jump on the Hamilton bandwagon. History tied in with incredible music and lyrics is a powerful medium for telling a story that many Americans are not familiar with.

I always understood Alexander Hamilton as the antithesis to Thomas Jefferson. He was the “bad guy” in the story who favored strong, British-style governmental institutions and industrialization while Jefferson favored smaller government and a more agrarian society. After listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and doing some research, I discovered that this popular version of history is not entirely accurate.

But while it is true that not all details in the musical are historically accurate, the overall story is one worth listening to and one worth introducing to your students. Continue reading The Room Where it Happens

15 econ lessons, political cartoons, and PD designed to make you and your kids smarter

This week’s guest post is written by Angela Howdeshell, Vice President for Programs and Administration for the Kansas Council for Economic Education.

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The current political tension has created many “teachable moments” for helping students understand many of the economic issues facing our nation. These issues are not always taught in classrooms but this is a great time to help students clarify their own thinking and ultimately, become more informed citizens and future voters. The issues are very complex and require our students to begin to dig into these topics in order to understand not only the challenges faced and the impact of choices made in the past, but also to understand the challenges our nation faces today and the impact of the choices we make now.

2015-econedlinklogoIntegrating economic and personal finance concepts in K-12 classrooms is necessary to Continue reading 15 econ lessons, political cartoons, and PD designed to make you and your kids smarter

“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