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:
As a poly sci junkie, I’m torn.
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.
Need a few quick resources? Continue reading Teaching Toolkit: 9 resources for discussing the government shutdown
A couple of months ago, I felt smart. I had just finished a full day with some of the best social studies teachers around. We had talked about hyperdocs, completed a BreakoutEdu, identified photos as either real or fake, learned about a variety of graphic organizers, and participated in an awesome video conference focused on the Smithsonian Learning Lab with Darren Milligan and Kate Harris.
I felt smart. I had learned some stuff. I had taught some stuff. My brain was feeling good.
I should have stopped while I was ahead.
But after learning more about the Learning Lab, I decided to dig in a bit and see what all might be available online from the Smithsonian. And that’s where I got into trouble. About an hour later, I dug my way out of the incredible amount of goodness that Smithsonian folks have made available for educators. I felt smarter but not smarter all at the same time.
Smarter because I learned about some sites and resources that were new to me. Not smarter because . . . seriously, how I have I not known about these things before?
Just so you know, there is a ton of materials, lesson plans, and resources that the Smithsonian has put online. Seriously . . . a ton. Darren told us that the Smithsonian isn’t really sure how much stuff they have – he rounded it up to around 160 million objects. And that’s just the stuff in their collections, not the lesson plans and online exhibitions.
So just to share some of what I learned, here a few places that you need to pencil into your schedule to visit: Continue reading Yup, I’m smarter. Thanks Smithsonian!
Despite the best efforts of teachers nation-wide to freeze their calendars and squeeze in as much family and pool time as they can, the school year is fast approaching. As we begin to transition back into educator mode the plan for the first day of school begins to crystallize in our minds. For the past several years I have utilized this activity to get my students communicating with each other, receiving invaluable guidance for myself, modelling a skill we utilize repeatedly, and setting the tone for our entire course..
After a standard intro and icebreaker I write the following prompt on the board:
“Describe an effective teacher.”
Since I have taught freshmen four of my six years in the classroom, I am keenly aware of the importance of explaining EVERYTHING. As much fun as it is to hear a student say “no homework” as if they are the first to come up with the joke, I immediately ask students what the mission of a teacher is.
As they come to their consensus I break up the class into groups of three. I task each group to collaborate and develop four criteria to judge whether a teacher is effective or not, keeping in mind the mission of a teacher. After 3-5 minutes of conversation, each group shares out their list of four. As they share I write down every response on the board. Normally we end up with a list of between 10-15 characteristics, since I do not write down repeat suggestions. Continue reading The Syllabus Can Wait! A Day One Strategy for Fostering Student Ownership
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.
Continue reading Detecting Bias: Quick and Easy Lesson Applications for Practicing this Essential Skill (Part 1)