After years of sitting on the margins of instructional practice, social studies is getting a makeover. The Common Core is calling for the teaching of literacy through the integration of fiction and non-fiction into our instruction. In August 2013, the National Council for the Social Studies published the complementary College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards.
Both the Common Core and College, Career, and Civic Life standards support a different approach to teaching and learning social studies than what we saw as part of No Child Left Behind. Instead of focusing on memorizing specific content measured by multiple choice tests, students are now being asked to do social studies – to think historically, to solve problems, to read, write, and communicate. As teachers, we are being asked to find a balance between foundational knowledge and the authentic use of that knowledge.
But it can be difficult. What does that balance look like in actual practice? Continue reading Test drive the C4 Framework – Win a prize!
The new buzz word in social studies instruction?
Okay. Yes. It’s two words but it’s still pretty buzzy. The idea of historical thinking has been hanging around as part of social studies instruction for a long time. But it’s sort of been like that weird second cousin who shows up at family reunions that no one really talks to. We haven’t been paying much attention to it.
But with new state standards and Common Core literacy stuff, not to mention the new College,Career, and Civic Life standards, historical thinking is back where it really belongs. As the central part of everything we do. And because it’s been at the weird second cousin status for so long, many teachers don’t have a ton of historical thinking resources.
So today . . . three sweet web sites that provide primary source raw data and lesson plans / resources that support historical thinking skills. Continue reading Some sweet sites for historical thinking
Having just finished my first year of teaching I find myself looking back at all of this lessons I learned this year, and there were a lot, and how I can change my curriculum next year to incorporate what I have learned. One of the most surprising things that I learned about 7th graders (at least mine) was that they have no clue how to write.
It all started with what I assumed would be an easy and straightforward assignment, write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations. The first response I got, “Mrs. Medley this isn’t English class.” Of course I had to be smart and retort with “WHAT?! They told me I was teaching English!” After my lame joke received a few giggles I told the students that they would have to write in all of their classes eventually, so we might as well start now. I got my first hint that they had no clue what they were doing when someone asked what compare and contrast meant, and I had to stop and think to myself “Do they really not know how to do this?” Continue reading This Isn’t English Class (or computers for that matter)
If you’re a US or World history teacher and are looking for great primary sources, you only have to go as far as the Library of Congress Teacher page. The LOC has so much great stuff, it’s sometimes hard to get out of there.
But I especially love the work the LOC staff has done to create what they call Primary Source Sets. Primary Source Sets are collections of goodies that focus on a particular theme or topic. I’ve added information below for 25 of my favorite sets but be sure to check out the entire list. You also can search the sets by specific state standards.
For each set, you get a downloadable Teacher’s Guide with historical context, instructional suggestions and links to more online resources. This is exactly the sort of stuff that the newly approved Kansas state standards are asking us to use with our kids. You also get a ton of primary sources and analysis worksheets. It’s a very cool place to find stuff that can engage our students in content and historical thinking.
My favs in alphabetical order: Continue reading Library of Congress Primary Source Sets
I love maps.
Seriously love maps. My latest purchase is a 1941 Collier’s World Atlas and Gazetteer. Three hundred and thirty-five pages of maps, statistics, articles, and geographic data. Sweet.
And really, aren’t maps some of the coolest things that history teachers get to mess with? The answer is yup. But I think we sometimes forget how powerful and useful a map can be. Geography and place often is pushed to the side in our history and social studies instruction. Perhaps is because we just don’t have a strong geography background or we don’t think we have the time / resources to focus on it. But we really don’t have an excuse anymore.
The newly approved Kansas state social studies standards are focused on five Big Ideas. The fifth one? Continue reading I’d marry a map if it was legal