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.
One of the easiest but most effective strategies for having younger kids work with primary sources is called Crop It. In some ways, it’s a lot like my Evidence Analysis Window Frame but I really like the flexibility embedded in the Crop It idea. The idea is pretty simple: students use L-shaped paper “cropping” tools to explore a visual primary source.
One of the problems that we often face is finding ways to help students see details – and to make sense of those details – when viewing a primary source. Photos, paintings, and graphics can contain a ton of specifics that get missed if students don’t take the time to look for them.
Crop It slows the process down so that students scan a source at a deep level and think about what they’re looking at. It gives them a way to find evidence, see multiple viewpoints, and gain a more detailed understanding of a primary source.
Jill Weber, 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year and teacher at Cheney Middle School, joined the Doing Social Studies writing team last year. The following is a cross-post from her site A View of the Web.
About 3 years ago I was first introduced to a new web program called Zoom In. They were financed by the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation and were trying to create an online platform to help students use historical thinking skills, and help teachers learn how to best instruct these skills. Because, let’s face it. Most of us were NOT taught this way, and most of us were not instructed on HOW to teach this way.
For me it was love at first sight.
And then I got the bad news. The program wasn’t completely iPad friendly, and we are 1:1 iPads.
Today’s guest is Megan Neiman, a high school social studies teacher at McPherson High School in McPherson, Kansas and the current secretary for the Kansas Council for the Social Studies.
You know those big orange SOCIAL STUDIES SCHOOL SERVICE catalogs that social studies teachers around the country receive a few times a year? The ones that we always thumb through and think “oh, that looks nice,” and “that looks like an interesting video!”
You know the ones I’m talking about. Well, I actually tried something from it! The curriculum is called Interact and I’ve had some wonderful experiences over the past few years implementing it in my classrooms.
What is Interact?
Interact is a curriculum designed to let students learn through experiences. It’s written by teachers for teachers and closely follows the old proverb, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” In a series of different units, students compete in challenges, follow simulations, and participate in assessments that help them develop skills across the curriculum and enhance the use of cooperative learning.
Each unit comes in a different book and contains anywhere from three to 20 class periods of activities. Interact supplements learning so students actually remember content because they are involved in their learning. Each book contains a teacher’s guide, purpose and overview, daily lesson plans, student materials, time management guidelines, and support materials. Interact activities require students to analyze tasks and evaluate how to apply their knowledge to create the assigned product. Most units also have activities that can be enhanced by participation from parents, administrators, or community members. This is great for promoting civic engagement and a connection to the community.
I was having a conversation with my two twenty-something children a few weeks ago and referenced an old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial. You know the one.
The one where two people, one eating peanut butter and the other chocolate, bump into each other? The one where they’re both heading headphones, listening to their Sony Walkmans, and don’t see each other until it’s too late.
“Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate.” “Hey! You got chocolate in my peanut butter.”
Yeah. My kids obviously didn’t remember either. It’s an ancient ad but I think of it often when we’re talking about app mashups and tweaking tech tools to do things they’re not really designed to do. Cause chocolate and peanut butter is as delicious together as is iMovie and Tellagami.
I shared the Reece’s reference with my kids because earlier in the day I had spent some time talking Google tools with a group of tech integration coaches. Part of that time was spent exploring the possibilities of mashing up Google My Maps and Forms. And over the last few days, my brain has been going back to different things that we could be doing with Google Forms.
I love document based questions. I love the Stanford History Education Group’s Beyond the Bubble mini-assessment tool. And we know that I love the Google.