All posts by Tricia

Summer 2022 Digital Toolbox Projects

I’m so incredibly proud of the work you did this summer and of the projects you created. They are listed here so that you can refer to them later as you head into student teaching and eventually your own classroom.

Postcard History

A few months ago I subscribed to a site called Postcard History. It has some terrific images for students to explore the differences between the past and present. It also has some fascinating historical tidbits. For example, today’s article is about the kidnapping of a child in 1909. The writer of this piece has dug into the history and presented a great deal of information about the event. While this is a secondary source, they mention this story was all over the newspapers. It would be relatively easy to find useful primary sources to explore. I can imagine a story like this could be a springboard to discuss schooling, transportation, geography, and more. Here’s the postcard.

The caption reads:
Willie Whitla, Sharon, Pa., kidnapped March 18, 1909.  Returned to his parents March 22, after payment of $10,000 ransom.  Kidnappers arrested the day after in Cleveland, Ohio, and money recovered.”

Read more about this event in the article entitled Billy Whitla, Kidnapped Child.

Developmentally Appropriate Social Studies

When we met last week, Reid posed an important question about when it is appropriate to teach certain topics to students. After much searching, I found few clear answers to this question. There is, however, some very clear guidance on how and when to teach about the Holocaust. I have addressed this in a separate blog post.

NCSS has written a position statement on Early Childhood in the Social Studies Context. This statement does outline some of the ideas and concepts that are appropriate for young learners. By omission, we can assume there are some topics we should not be introducing to these students.

In regards to teaching children about war, you may find the following resources helpful.

Here are some resources specific to teaching about the war in Ukraine.

The Declaration of Independence

The National Archives has an interesting and informative blog entitled Pieces of History. In it, primary sources are regularly highlighted. Last year they wrote about the Dunlap Broadside printed on July 4, along with the real-time proceedings of that day inscribed in volume 3 of the Rough Journal of Congressional proceedings.

This year they wrote about the Binns engraving of the Declaration of Independence that was created in the surge of nationalism following the War of 1812.

You can learn more about the Declaration of Independence at America’s Founding Documents.

The National Archives also has a wealth of resources for Independence Day.

Teaching the Holocaust

How and when should we teach students about the Holocaust? Here are some answers to these questions with links to helpful resources.

Fundamentals of Teaching the Holocaust includes many helpful resources produced by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. This excerpt is from the page Age Appropriateness.

“Students in grades six and above demonstrate the ability to empathize with individual eyewitness accounts and to attempt to understand the complexities of Holocaust history, including the scope and scale of the events. While elementary age students are able to empathize with individual accounts, they often have difficulty placing them in a larger historical context.”

Teaching Young Children About the Holocaust (PDF book chapter) addresses the question of when and includes some teaching suggestions.

“… we don’t advocate that you teach about the Holocaust directly until 5th or
6th grade at the earliest. And, even then, we hope you’ll make accommodations by
teaching kids in those grades about the Holocaust’s more redemptive aspects
only—rescue, resistance, and stories that soften the harder blows of this history. We
think that the earliest young people ought to be taught about the Holocaust in depth is when they are older, when as a group, they are mature enough to be appropriately
staggered by its enormity and developed enough to discuss its implications.”

The KidsKonnect article Teaching Kids About the Holocaust: Why You Should and How explains clearly and in some depth why “knowing about the Holocaust can make children more resilient, empathic, and give them the capacity to contribute, over time, to a healthier and safer society. This is because the Holocaust teaches us some valuable lessons.” Those lessons include:

  1. It illustrates the need for tolerance, inclusion, empathy, and respect.
  2. It perfectly captures the dangers of hate speech.
  3. It provides reassurance and makes children resilient.
  4. Remembering and learning from the Holocaust is a form of respect toward the victims.

In Why Teach the History of the Holocaust–And How?, the Montreal Holocaust Museum does a fine job explaining the reasons it is important to teach the history of the Holocaust .

This undergraduate honors thesis entitled How Can We Teach About the Holocaust to Seven to Ten Year Olds? examines the impact of psychological perspectives in relation to this question (among LOTS of other ideas). If you have time, this is a paper worth reading.

The publication Recommendations for Teaching and Learning About the Holocaust, prepared by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), addresses many issues about Holocaust teaching, including what we should teach about it.

“Teaching and learning about the Holocaust will vary depending on national and local contexts. These contexts will inform decisions regarding which questions are explored more deeply and which are addressed more concisely. The time allocated for teaching about the Holocaust must, however, be sufficient for learners to be able to answer the following questions in significant rather than superficial ways:

    • What were the historical conditions and key stages in the process of this
      genocide?
    • Why and how did people participate or become complicit in these crimes?
    • How did Jews respond to persecution and mass murder?
    • Why and how did some people resist these crimes?”

Facing History & Ourselves has a wealth of resources for teaching the Holocaust.

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans has a number of helpful Holocaust education resources.

Primary Source Assignment

It seems that we’ve been hampered by bugs and COVID in the last week. I’m sorry that we missed so many of you during our visit to the library Wednesday. We stayed much longer than expected but learned about so many amazing resources.

I have decided to make some changes to your primary source assignment to make it more manageable for all.

  • First, I’m going to integrate your primary source assignment into your digital toolbox. Instead of limiting your options to the WWII letters, you may choose any primary source(s) in the university collection that will enhance the study of content in your chosen grade level. This means you will need to add a page to your digital toolbox for this piece.
  • Second, you will not need to write a lesson plan for this component unless you choose to make this one of your two lesson options. I will let you make that decision.
  • Third, you will need to include digital images and descriptions for 2-3 items (at a minimum). Similar to other pieces in the toolbox, your narrative description should explain the connection to a particular SOL or set of SOLs and explain how you envision using the pieces.

I will include all of this updated information on the digital toolbox assignment page. I will also include links to the available UR resources.

Here is a link to the PPT we viewed during the session.

Here are links to some of the resources we learned about.

Welcome to the Summer 2022 Semester

I am excited to welcome you back for the summer semester. I’m especially happy to be working with all of you again.

This blog will serve as a place to extend class discussions, share current news of interest, and further reflect on what it means to teach social studies using pedagogical approaches that encourage critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity.

Use the menu to navigate to course resources.

  • Hover over Assignments in the menu to find guidelines for the work of the semester.
  • Hover over Readings and Videos in the menu to find the assignments for each class session.
  • Click on Google Slides to find the notes from each class session.

Answers to Your Questions – Week 2

Here are answers to some of the questions you asked this week. If your questions were related, I addressed them together in my response.

With the rise in popularity of graphic novels, have any textbooks changed over to that format instead of the traditional text alone with the inserted text features?

  • I wish I could say that textbooks have improved. Those I have seen in schools are old (at least 10 years) and still follow the traditional format. I’m a big fan of skipping the textbook and using trade books instead. This allows for use of multiple genres of nonfiction, including poetry and graphic novels. That said, there is a terrific history series by Nathan Hale that I love. The books are part of the Hazardous Tales series.

There is little time for Social Studies instruction. Even as we integrate many of these reading/writing strategies during Language Arts time, how do we cover such large amounts of content in such a small amount of time? Also, what are some additional specific strategies for English language learners?

  • Time is the problem every teacher faces. There is never enough time to do everything. It’s one of the reasons why textbooks and worksheets are the norm. Teachers feel like they’re covering content, but students often aren’t engaged and aren’t really learning.
  • I’ll get back to you on the ELL strategies. I hope to share/model some in class.

Would is be alright to deviate slightly from the curriculum or state assigned Language Arts books in order to supplement Social Studies texts due to time constraints?
Are there any restrictions on how often teachers use social studies texts during language arts instruction or is there more freedom in choosing texts for language arts? 

  • There really aren’t any state assigned books for language arts. Most of the decisions are left up to the school divisions. Usually, the specialists in central office offer recommendations on what should be used. Since teaching nonfiction is in the language arts standards, any time you can use a book that aligns with science or social studies units, you should run with the opportunity.

Is it possible to cluster primary source documents to create a coherent unit (painting, letters, maps)? Where can we find examples of primary source driven units that are adaptable and effective?

  • We are going to look at several examples of this in class. It is my preferred way to teach. It does take some time to assemble resources, but the units are so much richer when you do this. These documents can be supplemented with good children’s books.

If any students are like me, I hated when the teacher just had us sit and read page after page in the textbook. Do you have some personal ways to make it fun and engaging other than a worksheet? 

  • I’ll say again how much I dislike textbooks. I honestly don’t think they have a place in teaching social studies. Students will get so much more from learning to work with primary source documents. There are many good resources to guide them through this process. Yes, they are worksheets, but they teach students to analyze and ask questions. The National Archives has a terrific collection of document analysis worksheets. Here’s an example of one designed for elementary students.

How much variety is appropriate to incorporate into the class in terms of using models. Should I try every model like the “H” model, Venn diagram, and others switching every time, or should I stick to getting the students used to using the same model or two. 

  • I like to teach students to use all the models. Practice each one over time and introduce them slowly. Later in the school year, I let students choose which form to use. They appreciate having the ability to choose what works for them and you get to see how they are thinking.

As teachers, should we use the textbooks/informational guides in class as much as we use other sources and activities or balance more activities and discussion rather than heavy informational use?

  • The movement in social studies right now is to teach through inquiry. Students are given documents and primary sources to focus on and use them to answer questions about a person or event. This is a pretty engaging way to teach. At some point in this process, students have to explore secondary source material and texts that summarize these ideas, so informational text will always be used in social studies. As the teacher, it will be up to you to determine what form that takes. There are so many good books, magazines, and podcasts, that I hope textbooks aren’t the first choice for this.

Leave a comment if you have other questions or want me to expand on any of these answers.

Teaching About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This episode of the Teaching Hard History Podcast may be of interest to you.

Teaching the Movement’s Most Iconic Figure – w/ Charles McKinney

“Throughout this season, we’ve been confronting the popular but misleading “Master Narrative,” which revolves around a caricatured version of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To fully understand the movement, our students need to learn an accurate version of Dr. King’s life and activism. In this episode, I talk with historian Charles McKinney about the real Dr. King. “

Thinking About Historical Markers

I read this article recently and have been thinking about it in the context of the reckoning around Monument Ave and Confederate monuments in general.

Racial reckoning turns focus to roadside historical markers

Across the country, historical markers have in some places become another front in the national reckoning over slavery, segregation and racial violence that has also brought downCivil War statues and changed or reconsidered the names of institutions, roads and geographical features.

Do you stop to read historical markers? Do you know who created them and why? Is there a historical marker that you’ve seen that stands out for you?