This week’s post comes from Thomas Fulbright, current KCSS president and history teacher at Hope Street Academy, a public charter school in Topeka since 2008. Thomas intends “to spend my entire life convincing them how exciting and important history is.” His bio picture is daughter Claire and Thomas meeting President Lincoln.
In my last blog post, I shared with you a description of my pedagogical approach and provided an example. A quick refresher – at the start of the semester, students identify the purpose of learning history, (summary: they agree with George Santayana) then throughout the semester they do comparisons between policy debates of the past and policy debates happening today.
While some of these lessons are pretty easy to modify from semester to semester (there will always be debates over immigration, the connections may just be different), sometimes a major event requires the creation of a new lesson. My class spans the eras from Reconstruction through the Great Depression. It just so happens a current event which is drawing my students’ attention has a pretty good connection to the past.
Previously, the Spanish Influenza was part of the larger conversation about the League of Nations’ clause about an international agreement to study and prevent diseases. But the development of the Coronavirus required the creation of a whole new “case study.” What I found during my research to create the lesson drove home the whole purpose of why we teach history and why I teach history the way I do.
The lesson I frantically pieced together over my spring break was intended to be used right after we returned to class. Students were going to study the debate over “closing orders” that were created in response to the spread of the “Spanish Influenza.” They were going to connect those arguments to today’s debate over social distancing and closing orders. Continue reading Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.→
Pre-Service teachers are getting into the game and classroom teachers can benefit. The HGSS undergraduates at KU have a thriving student chapter of the National Council for the Social Studies – the Kansas University Council for the Social Studies (KUCSS) – and they’ve been using their powers for good.
KUCSS has partnered with the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, Kansas to create instructional materials for middle and high school social studies teachers. The Dole Institute of Politics has launched an online exhibit commemorating Dole and his service in WWII which resulted in a debilitating injury that would later largely shape his work as a Senator resulting in the Americans with Disabilities Act (1995).
If you’d like to read more about the collection and their collaboration with KUCSS you can check out the full article here.
And if you haven’t taken the opportunity to visit the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence it’s well worth a trip. Heck, make an I-70 road trip of it: start at the Eisenhower Presidential Center in Abilene, hit the Dole Institute, and then on to Liberty, Missouri for the Truman Presidential Library and Museum – just imagine all the government fun!
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→
Blogs this time of the year are full of wonderful ideas for the first day of school. I would like to share with you a lesson that I do on the 3rd or 4th day of school after all procedural things are taken care of.
I start off by brainstorming with the kids – asking the question “What don’t you like about history?” We write their answers on a flip chart.
I am a museum geek. I grew up going to museums in Chicago, part of our annual trip to see my grandparents. That, plus my love of American history, led me to the museum field and teaching with artifacts. Nothing can bring history to life like the things left behind.
Don’t believe me?
Check out the German U-boat, the U505, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Or examine the pike at the Kansas Museum of History, one of the actual pikes John Brown purchased and shipped to Harper’s Ferry to start a slave insurrection. Looking at the pike you can’t help but ask yourself
Who used it? What happened to that person? Why did he buy pikes and not rifles? Why did the revolt fail?