“I have been teaching history at Hope Street Academy, a public charter school, in Topeka since 2008. My wife and I have three daughters, Claire, Nora, and Meredith. I intend to spend my entire life convincing them how exciting and important history is! My bio picture is of Claire and I meeting President Lincoln!”
During the summer of 2016, I was lucky enough to attend the Gilder Lehrman teacher seminar American Foreign Policy since 1898, led by Dr. Jeremi Suri from the University of Texas. The seminar was going very well – until in an offhand comment, Dr. Suri implied that the way I teach history is bad for our democracy.
At that time, I was teaching my class using Structured Academic Controversies, following the model of Stanford History Education Group. His basic argument was I focus too much on having students judge the decisions made in the past rather than try to understand why those decisions were made. He told us that we need to see the decisions made in the past as the actions of logical decision makers and though we may not always like the logic those decision makers used, they still made those decisions for specific reasons. Continue reading Why does what happened in 1890 still matter? Helping students make the connection→
Today’s post is written by Cheney, Kansas middle and high social studies teacher Jill Weber. Jill is the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year.
Sometimes it all goes right. Thursday morning I didn’t think the day was going to turn out. It was just one of those rough mornings. Bad news and frustrations everywhere I looked. Before class started, I thought
Man, I’m gonna really have to fake-it-to-make-it today.
But then class started, and we got rolling with our topic and activity. By the end of my first block I knew I wasn’t gonna have to “fake it.” Today was AWESOME!
And it was made possible by the Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) activity I found using Stanford History Education Group. If you aren’t using SHEG in your classes . . . get on it! Seriously one of the best resources out there for incorporating and teaching with primary sources.
The SAC provides a controversial questions, documents for research, and the procedure for students to participate in small group debates. Students learn how to argue with evidence! And middle school students LOVE to argue!
January 27th marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War.
And while you may not be teaching a class that specifically focuses on the events of 1941-1945 as well as earlier discrimination and persecution under the Nazi government, it does provide a chance to connect those events to similar genocides both past and present. And to other acts of discrimination and persecution happening around the world and in the United States.
By remembering the Holocaust, we can honor survivors and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today.
There are many resources available. You might start with these:
This post is a little late but I’ve been hibernating; I hope you’re all keeping warm. If you’re using the cold weather day (wouldn’t it have been easier to post what schools stayed open?) to plan ahead or, if you’re reading this later, need something fast, I think I have something for you.
Kansas Day can be so much more than Sunflowers and Meadowlarks. Whether you want to a good lesson to incorporate Kansas into your regular curriculum to observe Kansas Day, or are making an effort to bring more local focus to your instruction.
I’d like to start with something I helped put together using a website called Thinglink. It’s free to get basic access and the tools let you create interactive photos, charts, etc. I took the Tallgrass Prairie Illustration below and added links to online articles and videos so students can learn more about our surroundings. Follow the link below the picture to see the interactive version.
If you like that tool, you might like some of the lessons from the Flint Hills Map Project and their Kansas Day Activities. Lots of good geography, science and even music and art ideas on their site to help your kids learn more about their home. The teachers on their advisory board (you guessed it, I’m one of them) met right after the winter break and as part of our meeting we put together a Kansas Day Pinterest Board if that’s more your speed.
If you’re not on the Kansas Historical Society’s mailing list you’re missing out on more tools to incorporate local history in your classroom. They have a whole page of ideas for Kansas Day in the classroom. I personally enjoy the online Carrie Nation exhibit with its teaching resources. There are a lot of resources at multiple levels that you can access. I’m also fond of the Read Kansas!cards for their versatility and availability for primary through middle school levels.
Remember, you don’t have to wait until Kansas Day to work more of the great history and resources of our state into your instruction. We are so much more than sunflowers and meadowlarks and we should share Kansas more with our students.
The National WWII Museum has an amazing opportunity for teachers this summer. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this! But hurry – the deadline for applications is February 1, 2018.
Explore World War II in New Orleans and Hawaii!
Applications for The National WWII Museum’s Summer Teacher Institute are now OPEN! This professional development experience for middle and high school social studies teachers includes a weeklong seminar at the Museum in New Orleans (July 22-28, 2018), plus a trip to explore WWII-related historic sites in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (July 21-27, 2019). This year’s institute focuses on the US Home Front, and will include seminar discussions with top WWII scholars, guided tours of the Museum’s innovative exhibits, artifact analysis, and interaction with WWII veterans. Participants receive up to six hours of graduate credit for participation. Travel, graduate tuition, and seminar materials are provided free of charge by the Museum. For full details and the application, visit nationalww2museum.org/institute.