The 2018 government shutdown is bad for just about everybody. And it seems like it happened over something that most Americans want to see happen – protection for Dreamers. A Fox News poll says 86% of us support DACA. A CBS poll reports 87% supporting the idea.
But the shutdown does create an opportunity to jump into all sorts of conversations involving civics and procedure and policy and elections and checks and balances and three branches and media bias . . . well, you get the idea. If you haven’t already, this week might be a good time to jump ship on your scheduled curriculum and spend some time making connections to the government side of the social studies.
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), 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.
The following is a guest post from Basehor-Linwood Middle School teacher Joe Zlatnik. Joe teaches 8th grade social studies at BLMS.
The concept of citizenship can be found throughout various social studies curricula. KSDE social studies standards are designed to “prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, engaged citizens…” and the National Council for the Social Studies C3 curriculum seeks to offer opportunities “for students to develop as thoughtful, engaged citizens.”
However, the steps to becoming a citizen are not clearly outlined. It is as if you become a citizen as a byproduct of going through these prescribed curriculums. I argue that one will not simply become an engaged citizen by completing a curriculum, but that students also need to have a way to decipher the ever-changing world we live in.
Being an engaged citizen today is, perhaps, more difficult now than it has ever been. The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite has given way to Fox News and MSNBC. We now live in a world with a 24-hour news cycle, multiple cable news channels, and a bias that is inherent in almost all the information that we receive.
As reporting has been replaced by editorializing, we find ourselves struggling to formulate our own opinions due to being overwhelmed by talking heads from across the political spectrum telling us what we should think. Developing a sense of citizenship amongst students, while daunting, is now more important than ever.
A few years ago, I was introduced to “Discrepant Event Inquiry” from Glenn Wiebe. (Here is another post about it from his History Tech blog). The idea is that you take an image and only reveal a little bit at a time. As I reveal a little bit of the picture, the students must guess Who is in the picture, What is happening, When was the photograph taken, and Where is this taking place. This encourages students to think outside the box and it also does WONDERS with questioning and how to ask the right questions. Naturally, I turned this into a competition. Continue reading How I use “Discrepant Event Inquiry” in my classroom→