The following is a guest post written by Bonnie Thomas. Bonnie is the Manager, Education Programs and Resources at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO.
“School subjects are like individual rectangles, the teacher explained. And this long, curved line represents the arts and humanities, linking concepts and modes of thinking across disciplines.”
This teacher, speaking in front of a vibrant geometric painting by the artist Robert Mangold, was one of 15 participants in a partnership project dedicated to exploring how art museums can support humanities education in public schools. Her comments emerged during a reflection activity in which teachers chose an artwork to represent their experience in the partnership project. Many other participants made similar comments, pointing out newly recognized connections between classroom subjects and visual art.
These teachers had first gathered several months previously at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, an encyclopedic art museum in Kansas City, Missouri. The Nelson-Atkins, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, was seeking teachers’ input on how its strong collection of American art could be leveraged to strengthen student learning in American history and related social studies topics.
For some of you, this post may not be that relevant. You don’t live close to Kansas. Or maybe you’re not a social studies teacher. But if you live in Kansas, or close to Kansas, or don’t mind making a trip to Kansas and you’re a social studies teacher, have I got a deal for you.
For the last two years, the Kansas Department of Education, the Kansas Council for History Education, and the Kansas Council for the Social Studies has co-hosted a one day conference focused on best practices and instructional resources. It’s always a great time. You make new friends. You meet old friends. You eat great food. You walk away with door prizes. And you always learn a ton.
The Kansas Geographic Alliance, the Kansas Council for Economic Education, and the Kansas Historical Society all show up as well. Basically, if you have a question about social studies, this conference is the place to be. And it really is for anyone who wants to be a part of an awesome learning opportunity.
But for the last ten years or so, at least in the state of Kansas, we’ve asked kids to focus instead on memorizing content. So now when we’re asking our middle school and high school students to not just write more but to use evidence while proving assertions, we get a lot of blank stares.
Steal a practice used by a lot of elementary teachers and start training your secondary kids to use evidence-based terms while writing.
Evidence-based terms are simple phrases that support the use of, well . . . evidence. So if we ask kids to look a couple of primary source documents and develop a thesis from their analysis, they have some scaffolding to help them do that.
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→
Today, we are fortunate to have a guest blog post. Dr. Tim Fry from Washburn University has contributed an interesting post dealing with Multiple Perspectives. Dr. Fry is currently an Associate Professor at Washburn University in their Department of Education and is also a board member of KCSS. Enjoy!
“Seized!” or “Reunited!”—Multiple Perspectives: An essential concept in Social Studies by Timothy S. Fry, PhD
One Sunday morning, after filling my mandatory morning cup of coffee, I sat down at the dining room table at my parents’ house to read the Sunday paper. I was visiting my parents in my hometown of Hutchinson, Kansas. It had been a while since I had been home and was looking forward to reading my old hometown paper, the Hutchinson News. However on Sundays, my folks also subscribed to the larger Wichita Eagle. Both papers had been opened and I just happened to sit closest to the Wichita paper, so I grabbed it first. The headline was huge, one word filled an entire line across the paper—“Seized!” Continue reading Multiple Perspectives: An essential concept in Social Studies→