Tag Archives: strategies

Inspiration from American Colossus Part Two: The Ascendancy Cycle

brands bookIn my previous post I wrote of the inspiration I gained from H.W. Brands’ book American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865-1900; specifically how Brands discussion of the dueling natures of capitalism and democracy could lead to a solid classroom discussion in an 11th grade US History course.

This post is regarding another aspect of Brands’ thesis, something that Brands calls the ascendancy cycle in American history.  What follows is far from a polished lesson, but instead the beginnings of an idea that hopefully will result in something beneficial for my students.

In the book, Brands claims that the competition between the forces of pure capitalism and pure democracy can be used to characterize the last 200 years of American history.  This competition has resulted in the proponents of each of these founding principles consolidating power, furthering their beliefs, losing that power to the opposing group as they create policy furthering their agenda, so on and so forth.  I believe that looking at US history through this lens provides students a concrete example of the ebbs and flows of American politics and how these elections can fundamentally alter the course of the nation. Continue reading Inspiration from American Colossus Part Two: The Ascendancy Cycle

The end is near! Letters to next year’s students

Can you tell it is May?  Are your students acting as crazy as mine?  Don’t worry, the end is near. We just need to get them to hang on for a couple more weeks!

Throughout the year I have students keep all of their work in binders within my classroom and at the end of each unit we empty most of the material out.  What remains in the binder for the entire school year are the maps from each unit and a vocab log that my students have kept through the year as a resource when common vocabulary words are addressed in multiple units.  As I was working to wrap-up my content and start emptying student supplies out of my classroom, I wanted to come up with a way to check  student vocab logs without having to go through and grade each individual binder (80 students x 50+ words, no thanks!).

So, I had my students write a letter to the 6th graders that I will have next year as 7th graders, using the words from their vocab log to explain what the 6th graders would be learning in my class. Continue reading The end is near! Letters to next year’s students

How I use “Discrepant Event Inquiry” in my classroom

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

Chicken Foot

A great activity I like to use with my students is called “Chicken Foot”.

  1. They love the name.
  2. It’s a good way to teach students to pick out the main points of a text, primary source document, picture, etc.

I learned this strategy at a Pre-AP Summer Institute I went to in 2010 in Norman, Oklahoma. After viewing the document, students write the main idea on the “leg”, then they pick three points or elements of the text that the students feel are super important and that everyone needs to know about the document. They write the three main points on the “toes” (if that’s what they are!). Continue reading Chicken Foot

So I asked my eleven year old, “What is History?”

As I begin the transition from summer to fall semesters (I know it is way too soon!), I decided to think about how I can start my methods course.  I have my own set of ‘willing’ lab rats at home and I cornered my sixth grader and asked the question in the title of this post.  The reply was what I expected…  Continue reading So I asked my eleven year old, “What is History?”