The 128th American Historical Association Annual Conference: A Great Way to Start 2014 (and engage all three areas of the brain)

Our reptilian part of our brain is about 300 million years old.  It makes sure we feed and reproduce, and decides between fighting and Triune-Brainrunning.  The second oldest brain section is our limbic area which influences our emotional stage. Isolation isn’t the key here. Staying in touch, socializing, being part of a collective is important.  Lastly, the Neo-cortex developed  about 4 million years ago on the evolutionary calendar. It is responsible for, among other functions, our intellect and curiosity.  You are using this part of your brain to understand what I am typing right now (although the limbic part may be engaged in joyous celebration of this post ;).

The defined brain sections/functions above, however, fail to emphasize the wholistic properties of our brain.  Learning, for example, is impacted by all three areas (ever try to learn while hungry or emotionally unengaged?).  By learning, I also include educator professional  development and networking.  Last weekend, the 128th annual conference of the American Historical Association was held in Washington D.C. The AHA conference was indeed a wholistic brain experience.

Interview with Dr. James Grossman, AHA Executive Director at AHA 2014:

Below I have assembled notes, links, comments etc on the presentations and sessions I attended.  In addition, check out the twitter feed  #AHA2014. I hope you are able to harvest much from what is provided. I found the conference to talk directly  to a passage in a text I am reading for work:

“By “impact resource”, I mean something that makes a particular teaching point in a vivid and powerful way; something that stays in a learners’ minds long after the lesson has gone. It is often something that disturbs learners previous understandings, or which problematises the issue or concept in a way that makes learners think further about it. It also encourages  dialogic learning, whereby learners are sufficientily interested by the resource that they are willing to clarify and modify their understanding through discussion with others. It intrigues learners to the extent that they are prepared to play an active part in constructing meaning themselves.”  Terry Haydn Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning in History 

The impact resources Haydn notes came in a variety of forms last weekend. Conversations, posts, handouts, presentations…the conference should be on history educators radar. The AHA’s efforts to provide sessions to secondary history teachers is also noteworthy. I look forward to future developments and opportunities in this arena.  Overall, this year’s conference was (besides the puzzlingly long line for coffee) a whole brain experience which exemplified conference professional development. Next year the conference is in New York City.  See you there.  Enjoy.



AHASession: Publishing History Digitally: New Formats, New Audiences, and New Challenges
Presenters/Panel: Daniel CohenCharles HomansChris HeaneyYoni Applebaum

Central Question(s): How can historians and history educators best communicate with the public?

Talking Points: The democratization of historical information production is alive and well. Digital publishing, academic blogs, online journals and the like regularly reach larger audiences, can utilize social and multi-media components, and can engage the present with an “historical voice” in real time.  Digital history, in short, is not a constrained like its “cookie cutter” journal and book bound counterparts.  Still, digital historians are using the same skill set as paper historians, just in a new medium.  This presentation was a great way to start the conference as it framed history education in a dynamic 21st century frame. Check out the  digital history resources below.


  • The Appendix: The Appendix is a quarterly journal of experimental and narrative history; though at times outlandish, everything in its pages is as true as the sources allow. The Appendix solicits articles from historians, writers, and artists committed to good storytelling, with an eye for the strange and a suspicion of both jargon and traditional narratives
  • Ultimate History Project:   The Ultimate History Project, an online history journal for history lovers. The site  encourages faculty members to write for the general public and it provides a forum for academically trained historians to work alongside independent historians, curators, preservationists, and others.
  • History News Network:   Our mission is to help put current events into historical perspective. Given how public opinion is shaped today, whipsawed emotionally on talk shows this way and that in response to the egos of the guests, the desire for ratings by the hosts and the search for profits by media companies and sponsors, historians are especially needed now. They can help remind us of the superficiality of what-happens-today-is-all-that-counts journalism. Each week HNN features up to a dozen fresh op eds by prominent historians. Our archives, extending over the past decade, include thousands of well-researched pieces.

Session: Building a Career around the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in History
Presenters/Panel: T. Mills KellyRobert Johnston Joel SipressLaura Westhoff

Central Question(s): When is teaching an intellectual act?  When is lecturing an effective instructional method?

Talking Points:  Teaching should be a meaningful act, an intellectual act, a reflective act, an intentional act. My second session at the conference was outstanding.  It celebrated the community that exists around teaching and learning and, more importantly, invites educators to enter and contribute to that community.  Cognitive and neuro science developments are changing our practice.  Those who stay in tune with those developments separates the wheat from the chaff, the pearl from the oyster.  A final note about the concept of the lecture as an instructional practice.  When asked about its utility, panelists noted that the best lectures will be short and dynamic,  introduce a new idea/concept and inspire/challenge listeners to ask how they will engage with that idea (think TED presentations not powerpoint presentations that are designed to convey items ‘you need to know’ UGH!).


  • Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey: History professors say the darnedest things. Like the one who summed up his teaching philosophy declaring, “If I said it, that means they learned it!” Or the colleague who scoffed at “trendy” educational reforms because, as she put it, “You can’t teach students how to think until you’ve taught them what to think.”
  • Carnegie Academy for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The CASTL Program sought to support the development of a scholarship of teaching and learning that: fosters significant, long-lasting learning for all students; enhances the practice and profession of teaching, and; brings to faculty members’ work as teachers the recognition and reward afforded to other forms of scholarly work.
  • International Society For The Scholarship Of Teaching & Learning:  serves faculty members, staff, and students who care about teaching and learning as serious intellectual work. The goal of the Society is to foster inquiry and disseminate findings about what improves and articulates post-secondary learning and teaching.
  • History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940  Robert B. Townsend, a longtime deputy director of the American Historical Association (AHA), has written a perceptive study examining the growth and fragmentation of America’s historical profession. He begins by reminding readers that professional historians once saw their enterprise “as a vast panorama of activity” encompassing “popular history making, school teaching, and the work of historical societies.”
  • When Teachers Talk Outside of School: In 1927, a schoolteacher in Secaucus, N.J., named Helen Clark lost her teaching license. The reason? Somebody had seen her smoking cigarettes after school hours…Today, teachers can be suspended, and even fired, for what they write on Facebook.

Session: American Academy of Arts and Sciences Report on the Humanities and Social Sciences
Presenters/Panel: Earl LewisSusan Griffin Anthony Grafton James GrossmanClaire Bond PotterEstevan Rael-Galvez

Central Question(s): What were the achievements and shortcomings of “The Heart of the Matter.” ? How critical is the state of humanities in education?

Talking Points: Panelists reflected on and discussed the tone and substance of Academy’s 2013 release (video below). Where some questioend the context of the data set used in the report about humanities majors (recognizing the 1980s as a more dire period) they were hopeful in the ways the report can be help stimulate conversations about and the practice of history education.  Of note was the potential of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s role in communicating the benefits of historical inquiry with the public.  Another key point emphasized teachers’ expectations for their students and the role of assessments’ impact on pedagogy.   Educating employers about the benefits of history education has led to an awareness of the tranfersabiltiy of historical thinking and skill sets to a myriad of occupations.  Where the panel was preaching to the choir at the conference, it is now imperative to continue to evangelize the humanities’ benefits to the public at large.


  • College, Career, and Civic Life Framework:
  • Video By Kathy Swan Presenting the C3 framework:
  • AHA Tuning Project:  History is a set of evolving rules and tools that allows us to interpret the past with clarity, rigor, and an appreciation for interpretative debate.  As a discipline, history entails a set of professional ethics and standards that demand peer review, citation, and toleration for the provisional nature of knowledge.
  • Article on the Harvard Humanities Report: “The report is informative and reasonable, and its suggestions are constructive. But its impact has not been what its authors probably intended.”
  • The Longview Foundation:  “At the dawn of the 21st century, knowledge of other peoples, economies, languages and international affairs has become a necessity for every child. The skill set required to prepare tomorrow’s citizens for the global age must go beyond the “the basics” and even beyond the growing emphasis on science, math, and technology skills. Today’s students need opportunities to gain broad and deep global knowledge and the language and intercultural skills to engage effectively with people around the corner and around the world.”

Session: Teaching Historiographical Debate in the World History Classroom
Presenters/Panel: Lauren JanesPhyllis Conn Rodney McCaslin Clif Stratton Eva Swidler

Central Question(s): How are debates about the past relevant in the present? What historical theories are used in classes?

Talking Points: The presentation made explicit connections to the demands of the Common Core on history education.  In fact historiography and historical theory are required by the standards.  Just take a look at a sample of standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

One presenter described teaching historiography to students this way: It is like a party where groups geHorsey - History Cartoont together and are talking about their view of the past. We can go over to each group and listen in on the Marxists, Post-modernists, Environmentalists, Globalists, Annales etc.  Occasionally someone may walk to another group and chime in or synthesize an idea. The point emphasizes that we construct our understanding of the past, and argue about…it also clarifies that history is not an exercise in memorization. Assessments are mega-important in reinforcing this practice.

One lesson suggestion: Have students write their own biography in a short essay. Then have them write it again using a different school of thought or perspective. Both are equally true, but what was emphasized changed. People and events were marginalized or silenced. Agency changed. So it is in learning, constructing, and evaluating historical understanding.


  • ChronoZoom: an educational tool for teachers and students who want to put historical events in perspective. Use ChronoZoom to get a perspective of the extensive scale of time and historical events relative to what happened around the world.
  • Historiography The research interests of historians change over time, and in recent decades there has been a shift away from traditional diplomatic, economic and political history toward newer approaches, especially social and cultural studies.
  • Different schools of historiography:The link refers to  a brief glimpse of the definitions of the different schools of historiography.
  • Schools of history flashcards: Vocabulary words for Schools of History. Includes studying games.
  • Prezi on Historiography:   A comprehensive presentation
  • Another Prezi on Historiography: Good for a flipped approach.


Session: What Should a 21st Century History Textbook Look Like
Presenters/Panel:  Mary Dougherty–  Robert BainScott CasperSuzanne McCormackMary Beth Norton

Central Question(s): What is the potential of digital resources?

Talking Points:  The textbook is a curious thin. Classes still assign them and teachers, students, and parents still argue their utility. Digital resources, personalization, and information access all make the print copy rather obsolete.  Augmenting the textbook with multimedia and interactive features is possible now.  Moreover…they can be cheap, or free.  So, what role does the textbook take in your class? Is it THE resource, or A resource. This is a central question for teaching and learning.  Another one is… do you still assign reading, tell students to take notes, and then go over them in class? If so, it is time to rethink what you are doing as an educator.


  • The Big History Project: BHP works with a wide range of educators, scientists, writers, curriculum experts, and artists to bring the ideas of big history to life and provide students of all ages with unique views into different fields of knowledge
  • Flat World Knowledge: You can create the perfect book for your course in minutes with our fast and easy online editor. Add, delete and rearrange content to match your syllabus and improve student success.
  • Merlot: is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community.
  • College Open Textbooks: is a collection of colleges, governmental agencies, education non-profits, and other education-related organizations that are focused on the mission of driving awareness, adoptions**, and affordability of open textbooks. Our focus is on community colleges and other 2-year institutions of higher education and the first two years (lower division) of 4-year institutions. Some of our activities also apply to K-12, upper division, graduate school, and life-long learning.
  • CK-12: Services like CK-12 make it easy for teachers to assemble their own textbooks. Content is mapped to a variety of levels and standards including common core. You can start from scratch or build from anything the the FlexBooks library.
  • College Open Textbook: the first open-licensed U.S. History textbook that follows the course for the College Board Advanced Placement exam. It addresses the needs of one of the most popular courses at two-year colleges in a very affordable format.

Session: The Historical Enterprise: Past, Present, and Future Collaboration between Secondary History Teachers and University History Professors
Presenters/Panel:  Robert TownsendTimothy GreeneLinda Symcox

Central Question(s): Why, how and for what purposes should secondary and higher education be bridged?

Talking Points: Teachers and professors engaging in projects, dialogues, and research about history education is a powerful exercise. Whether this is done in person or virtually, such collaboration expands the classroom context and  yields opportunities for teachers and students alike.  TAH was a watershed, bridging the K-12 and higher education, with intent, for years.  My experiences with two TAH grants were indeed positive. Those times are gone… now it is up to you to seek out, nurture and apply collaborative efforts fore your students sake.


  • Bridging the Gap: On Ways to Improve Collaboration… Interesting paper on the topic.
  • The California History-Social Science Project: is a K–16 collaborative of historians, teachers, and affiliated scholars dedicated to the pursuit of educational excellence in history and social science. The organization exists to improve and advocate for history education, promote teacher development, and facilitate leadership opportunities.
  • History Blueprint: The History Blueprint aims to revolutionize history instruction.  It combines innovative curriculum, assessment tools, student literacy support, and teacher professional development, aligned with the Common Core State Standards.


Session: Professional Development In World History Education: The Alliance Project
Presenters/Panel: Patrick ManningLinda CargileRoss E. DunnTim KeirnDavid Neumann

Central Question(s): What Professional Development is available for high school world history teachers?  How is the Alliance for World History learning impacting secondary history education?

Talking Points:  Resources for history education are bountiful.  Finding the best programs, resources, and opportunities can be dauntingWell, get ready to put these guys on your radar. The Alliance Project is poised to set the bar high for World History professional development. They provide the resources, you and your school provide the context and implementation… as you see fit. The Alliance provides support and a network of educators.  Your school system doesn’t have to hire a consultant!  Your department and/or central office just needs the leadership to carry the program through.  The Alliance is still developing its resources, webpage, and other features. Keep their contact information close . You won’t want to miss out on this PD program.


  • The World History Center at U Pitt: The World History Center at the University of Pittsburgh emphasizes research, teaching, and international collaboration on the global past, with attention to policies for the global future.
  • “Why Study World History”: by J. Bentley-  Practicing world historians rarely address the question ‘why study world history?’  This is unfortunate because world history is one of the big intellectual issues of our times.
  • World History: The Big Eras: World History: The Big Eras is a fine example of how widening the lens through which we view the human past helps students and teachers make sense of all the myriad details and events of history in a way that is not overwhelming, but refreshing and enlightening.  The authors are all very experienced at considering the whole of the past, not just fragments of it, and in their introduction offer powerful endorsements the “big history” approach.
  • World History for Us All: World History for Us All is a national collaboration of K-12 teachers,
    collegiate instructors, and educational technology specialists. World History for Us All is a powerful, innovative model curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools.
  • Our Shared Past Grants: Together, the five winning projects will help lay the foundation for a growing coalition of scholars and teachers committed to improving and promoting the teaching of world history in schools throughout the US, UK and the Mediterranean region. Through curriculum development, course assessment and teacher training, the projects will help shift from an “us and them” approach to teaching world history to one that focuses on the rich economic, scientific, social and religious interplay between diverse cultures.

Session: The Future of AP History: Designing and Assessing a “Best Practices” History Curriculum
Presenters/Panel:   Allison ThurberTed Dickinson Laura MitchellVictoria Thompson

Central Question(s): How has the College Board embraced historical thinking skills? In what ways are AP history courses changing?

Talking Points:  The College Board is on board with Historical Thinking Skills!  I love it. The US  and Europe course revisions include a theme placing those national/regional histories in a global context. Well done indeed.  These are praiseworthy changes and set a tone for advancing the possibilities of historical inquiry and argumentation.  I ask my students to identify a skill/skill set they want to develop in our history course. Often, this is a new request. Students typically enter the course feeling history is a luxury/requirement they will engage with via memorization and cute stories.  They come around, mostly. Likewise, teachers should be able to identify what skill/skill set their lessons are targeting for development.  In a content-first profession, this is a paradigm shift.  I agree… it is. And it is a much needed one.


  • AP US History Redesign: The redesign of the AP U.S. History course and exam accomplishes two major goals. It maintains AP U.S. History’s strong alignment with the knowledge and skills taught in introductory courses at the college level. It also offers teachers the flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events, and issues in depth. The redesigned course begins in fall 2014, and the first AP Exam based on the redesigned course will be administered in May 2015.
  • AP Euopean History Redesign: AP European History’s strong alignment with the knowledge and skills taught in introductory courses at the college level. They also offer teachers the flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events, and issues in depth.The redesigned course begins in fall 2015, followed by the revised AP Exam in May 2016.
  • AP History Thinking Skills: New exams  will assess students’ application of the historical thinking skills (chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing, crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narrative) valued by colleges and universities as central to studying history.


The 411 on 9-11: The Master(mind) Narrative

The posting of this blog, one may think, is poorly timed.  Weeks too late as last month schools marked two global events which use in their moniker “9-11.” Still, both events, assuming classes are taught chronologically, will be relevant later in the school year, and therefore educators can learn from this post. Read on…

The other other 9-11?

The other other 9-11?

In September some students in the USA were taught about the USA’s supported military coup which overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. “Because of CIA covert intervention in Chile, and the repressive character of General Pinochet’s rule, the coup became the most notorious military takeover in the annals of Latin American history.” The death of Allende yielded to the dictatorship of Augosoto Pinochet until 1990. US foreign policy in Latin America included supporting the policies of anti-democratic regimes.  According to the Washington Post, Pinochet’s brutal resume includes  the death of “at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000.”

Likewise, last month most schools in the US were taught that, twenty-eight years later, two passenger airliners were flown  by members of al-Qaeda, mostly from Saudi Arabia, into the iconic World Trade Center “Twin Towers” in New York City and one into the Pentagon near Washington D.C.  Nearly 3,000 people perished in the attacks, about 12% of the casualties were from outside of the USA. One outcome of the attacks was a proclaimed “War on Terror”  leading the US along a road which is  “in theory, an endless war –- a war that approaches something closer to a way of life.” It is important to remember the origin of the attackers.   Al Qaeda’s formation is traced back to the  late 1980’s, “As Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden and other Arab fighters from the US-backed Mujahideen movement form “al-Qaeda”, which in Arabic means “the base”.” 

The number of educational resources that have been created about the 9-11 attacks in 2001 is prolific. My previous blog post here focused on educational resources’ attention to the “why” and “what” of the 9-11 of 2001. This year, I want to examine the narrative that has been created in educational and media sources around the concept of the 9-11 “Mastermind”.  I argue that the educational resources are deficient in this area because of the fact that they incorrectly identify Osama Bin Laden as the “Mastermind”  of 9-11.  The “Mastermind” label, branded on Bin Laden, is presented as a  fact, an unchallengeable truth that is replicated and perpetuated in schools vis-a-vis “authoritative” curriculum materials.  Strangely enough, this Bin Laden-Mastermind connection exists despite ample evidence from multiple sources (presented below) that the Mastermind of the 9-11 attacks was Khalid Sheik Muhammad (KSM). The absurdity of KSM’s absence in 9-11 educational curriculum materials is magnified by the fact KSM is currently on trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for being the Mastermind of 9-11!

 9-11 Resources

So, what is being celebrated by publishers and media as authoritative best practices for and content resources for  9-11?  A sample of materials is below. Are they in your department office or library? If so, I hope examine the narrative promoted by them and the evidence they emphasize.

  • New York Regent’s Exam Review Guide has no mention of Khalid Sheik Muhammad! Their entry for Osama Bin Laden supports the Bin Laden “Master Mind” claim: “Osama bin Laden: Saudi Arabian multimillionaire and leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. He is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks on the United States including the destruction of the World Trade Center.


  •  Social Studies Services:  Their binder consists of a range of materials, lessons, and sources to be used in class and is “suitable for assemblies.” The resource is an impressive collection and aspires to laudable goals: “Relying on open-ended inquiry, activities also prompt students to interpret photographs, video footage, and oral histories; and to document their findings by means such as Google Earth and a timeline.” Samples can be seen here.   The most promising resource is the “Student Handout: Activity2 Timelines pp 28-33.  Osama Bin Laden is mentioned over a dozen times and Timothy McVeigh once. But they fall short of mentioning KSM even once.
  • Hippocampus:  This is an amazing site.  “ is a free, core academic web site that delivers rich multimedia content–videos, animations, and simulations–on general education subjects to middle-school and high-school teachers and college professors, and their students, free of charge.”  Their History selections, despite not having a World History offering, boasts regular and AP level content.  9-11 is housed in the “Bush and Obama” unit under two sections:”Reaction to 9/11″ and “Domestic Response to 9/11”.  KSM is absent.  Bin Laden gets a photo opportunity.

Hippocampus 2

  • The History Channel:  The have extensive resources – videos, interactives, timelines, photos- on 9-11. The Osama Bin Laden  entry identifies him as the mastermind, “On this day in 2011, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, is killed by U.S. forces during a raid on his compound hideout in Pakistan.  Search’s website for Khalid Sheik Muhammad and you get  ZERO results.  Search “Ice Road Truckers” or “Swamp People” and you get over 28,000 results…for each of them! Oh History channel, how you are misnamed!
  • CNN:  Think about it. When did you realize CNN’s reporting moved from news coverage to info-tainment.  I think it was the late 90’s, but that is just a guess.  Their timeline of 9-11, updated on 9-11-2013, has no reference to KSM!  Bin Laden is still identified as the “mastermind”, “This terrorist attack on the United States is orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.”  However, most ridiculously, CNN still lists the Dec 2001 Bin Laden Confession Tape as a viable part of the narrative “December 13, 2001 – The U.S. government releases a tape in which Osama bin Laden takes responsibility for the attacks.”  They fail to mention that this tape came under heavy scrutiny from international media and research organizations.
  • Digital History: This online US History survey course has an impressive backing of sponsors.  The goal of the project  is also This Web site was designed and developed to support the teaching of American History in K-12 schools and colleges and is supported by the College of Education at the University of Houston. Overall this is an impressive project with some expanded features. However, the final unit”The 21st Century” includes a quiz on 9-11.  Looking at question 3 below, you should figure out where I am going with this:

3. The mastermind behind the terrorist attack was

a. Timothy McVeigh                    b. Saddam Hussein                     c. Osama Bin Laden

I emailed them about this, but never received a response. What a surprise.

KSM, the Mastermind of 9-11, 2001

I lay it out there, Khalid Sheik Muhammad is the master mind of  9-11. Osama Bin Laden is not the mastermind behind 9-11.  Therefore, any educational material, standards, test, curriculum, etc, that professes Bin Laden is, needs to explain its stance KSM-w-620x349against the sources below.  As you review them, please remember, I am arguing that the narrative about the 9-11 Mastermind found in current curriculum resources are faulty,  misleading, numbing, and a gross dis-service to the students, teachers, and education profession.

I offer evidence that questions  and contradicts those resources.  Review them yourself.  Come to your own conclusion. Let me know what you think.

  • The New Yorker Magazine:   In 2010, groups protested the idea of putting KSM on trial in NYC (remember that?).  “Greg Manning, whose wife, Laura, was severely burned in the World Trade Center attacks, stood before the crowd and said, “Thousands are already dead because of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s choices…There’s a place for the courts, but not for the mastermind of 9/11.”
  • The Daily News: Maybe the title says it all “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 9/11 mastermind, allowed to build vacuum in CIA prison.”  Maybe not.   But it is hard to ignore this claim written in July 2013.  Too new? Read on…
  • 2007 Military Tribunal Transcript: I guess we forget that these documents are, at least theoretically, our possessions.  Regardless, this 2007 transcript offers a bit to read about KSM and his role in 9-11.  He, and his personal representative, profess “I hereby admit and affirm without duress… I was responsible for the  9/11 operation A to Z”
  • Wikilieaks:  This memo of “Combatant Status Review” of September 4, 2006  signed by Rear Admiral Harry Harris Jr. is telling. that KSM was the Mastermind of 9-11.   Page 5… “Detainee was the mastermind of the 11September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”  Read for yourself.
  • 9-11 Commission Report:  I guess this is the smoking gun, if there is to be one.  The US committee  announced, in 2002, that KSM was the mastermind of 9-11. The group was “an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.”  They explicitly state “No one exemplifies the model of the terrorist entrepreneur more clearly than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”


The Atlantic  Monthly ran this title in 2012″How the FBI, CIA, and Pakistani intelligence worked together — or didn’t — in the global hunt for the mastermind behind September 11, 2001″… Everything the Americans could rustle up pointed to Karachi. Every source and bit of information said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was operating out of the capital of Pakistan’s Wild West…

So, where does that leave the us?  Survey your colleagues. Ask them who is Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?  Ask them who is the “Mastermind of 9-11”?  Review the material you use and the narrative about 9-11.  Weigh the evidence and ask why is KSM not in the narratives, standards,  and curriculum materials for high school students.


I would like to end by noting another type of narrative around 9-11.   Both TED videos detail attempts at creating meaningful interpretations of what happened on 9-11.  It is important that these messages are in the public sphere, the collective conscious.  Take a look and see how they impact your view of 9-11.  These voices, emphasizing a social historical approach,  remind us that world events and globalization networks are never one-way avenues of “Them” causing harm to “Us.”


Photography, War, and Worldview: Where DBQs and Media Literacy Meet

I recently visited the Corcoran Gallery of Art located in Washington D.C. to see the exhibit “WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” on view until September 29th.  The exhibit is on tour, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  Its overview description states:

“Images recorded by more than 280 photographers, from 28 nations, span 6 continents and more than 165 years, from the Mexican-American War in the mid-1800s to present-day conflicts. Iconic photographs as well as previously unknown images are featured, taken by military photographers, commercial photographers (portrait and photojournalist), amateurs, and artists. The exhibition examines the relationship between war and photography, exploring the types of photographs created during wartime, as well as by whom and for whom. Images are arranged to show the progression of war: from the acts that instigate armed conflict to “the fight,” to victory and defeat, and photos that memorialize a war, its combatants, and its victims. Portraits of servicemen, military and political leaders, and civilians are a consistent presence.”

I urge you to attend this exhibit if it comes close to you.  If that isn’t possible, watch the promo video below, read the BBC report, and/or take a virtual tour online.

The exhibit was fantastic. It stimulated a mix of emotional and intellectual responses: beautiful, sad, horrifying, motivating, agitating, challenging, clarifying… The combination was something I wasn’t expecting.  One section of the tour was overwhelming and I had to leave it for a moment to recenter.  The exhibit. I thought, was leaving its mark upon me.

Numerous images continue to reverberate in my mind and remain vivid memories. This was my favorite picture –   A wristwatch frozen in time, 11:02 a.m.  marking the explosion of the Nagasaki Bomb on August 9, 1945. It was found under a mile from the explosion’s epicenter. Chilling.

Nagasaki watch


So how does this relate to  teaching and education.  This exhibit, and others like it,  represents  the heart of social studies/history education – it helps form an individual’s world view.  I firmly believe  that a major purpose of learning about the past (history), the humanities, and social sciences to be an existential enterprise.  The existential practices  students engage with include:

  • conceptual learning
  • questioning
  • researching their interests
  • reflecting and investigating personal and social beliefs and conclusions
  • developing new information and processes
  • seeking new experiences

The ultimate goal of this model of teaching and learning is the construction of a personal worldview (which will change overtime).

That is a powerful educational outcome!  (And a definite characteristic of 21st century learning). What other fields claim this as an objective?

Let’s explore a little further using contemporary education parlance,.”WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” provides the opportunity for students to engage with content and demonstrate critical/creative thinking by combining media literacy and document based questions.  (whew!) Let’s explore these two ideas:

1) Medial Literacy:The ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, and COMMUNICATE information in a variety of forms-is interdisciplinary by nature. Media literacy represents a necessary, inevitable, and realistic response to the complex, ever-changing electronic environment and communication cornucopia that surround us.

To become a successful student, responsible citizen, productive worker, or competent and conscientious consumer, individuals need to develop expertise with the increasingly sophisticated information and entertainment media that address us on a multi-sensory level, affecting the way we think, feel, and behave.

The Center for Media Literacy has numerous resources and opportunities. I think this image does a great job explaining the concept too.



2) Document Based Questions (DBQ):  Are typically an essay or series of short-answer questions that is constructed by students using one’s own knowledge combined with support from several provided sources.

AP courses use them stating, “the DBQ typically requires students to relate the documents to a historical period or theme and thus to focus on major periods and issues. For this reason, outside knowledge — information gained from materials other than the documents — is very important and must be incorporated into your essay if the highest scores are to be earned.”  Similarly, IB history courses also use DBQs.  The suggested strategy for students analyzing DBQs is the OPVL approach (Origin -Purpose – Value – Limitations).

However, DBQs are not just for students in advanced courses.  Notably, the Regents Exam uses them. Their approach, less analytical than the IB, focuses on preparation and structure stressing “Before actually writing the DBQ essay, one should analyze the task and organize the information that they wish to include in the essay response…carefully read the historical context and the task. Look for clues that will help identify which historical era(s) the DBQ is focusing on, and the information required to thoroughly address the task.”

The DBQ Project co founders Chip Brady and Phil Roden  (now in their 13th year) state “we believe that all students can develop high-level critical thinking skills if they have consistent instruction and a chance to practice. Our engaging questions and use of primary and secondary sources give students the opportunity to investigate history from a variety of perspectives.  Our flexible pedagogy supports discussion and debate as students clarify their own ideas and write evidence-based arguments.”

The DBQ Project provides outstanding resources and professional development. In my experience they have been a model of effective history education.

The DBQ resources and approaches have become common curriculum features.  Organizations have regularly include them in their curriculum materials. But is is also a good strategy for students and teachers to create their own.

Some guidelines are here and here and here.  A Prezi about the process is below.

World View

One  observation I have about DBQs is that they rarely, at least in my experience, utilize contemporary pworldview1hotography.  I imagine this is partly due to perceived content restrictions. However, consider the larger claims voiced by whatever content standards you use.  Using photographs like the ones in  “WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath”   have students explore their understanding  of big ideas and concepts. These skills, in turn, help students construct their world view.  In other words, the DBQ approach can be used as a meta-cognitive task. Teachers may already do this. If you do please let me know….

In the end I believe this existential objective should be an explicit  and intentional part  of the DBQ process used in social studies and history classes. Set the bar high for your students and make your DBQs relevant with contemporary images.  Considering the current realities of war and conflict, media literacy is a skill which needs attention.  The photos at the Corcoran exhibit will leave a profound impact on students and expose them to realities of war hidden from them in mainstream media. I hope you try this exercise at least once this school year.

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some grave sites, out by the highway
A place where nobody knows

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance
I’m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, I lived in the ghetto
I’ve lived all over this town

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain’t got time for that now

The song’s full lyrics are here







Identifying the “Why” in Education -10 Theories For Educators to Know, Apply, and Share

Throughout this past school, the concept of “starting with the “Why” has consistently appeared in various settings.  The mantra is emphasized in meetings,  promoted by AVID leadership in our county,  referenced at the NCSS meeting in Seattle, and is a guiding principle around professional development.  At the orientation meeting for judges at the the National History Day tournament, an explanation of “Why” was used identifying  our TheGoldenCirclecollective enjoyment of history and support for students’ engaging with the past. I researched the concept and its “Golden Circle” approach to leadership.  Applying this to education is, I argue, is essential to the professionalism and artistry of our field.  We should all be able to answer the “Why” for our personal practices, content area, school mission, and national purpose… and provide that answer to our students and their parents.

Now that summer is upon us, it is a perfect time to reflect on the Why.
The Golden Circle

Beginning as a student in anthropology, Simon Sinek turned his fascination with people into a career of convincing people to do what inspires them. His earliest work was in advertising, moving on to start Sinek Partners in 2002, but he suddenly lost his passion despite earning solid income. Through his struggle to rediscover his excitement about life and work, he made some profound realizations and began his helping his friends and their friends to find their “why” — at first charging just $100, person by person. Never planning to write a book, he penned Start With Why simply as a way to distribute his message


The 10 theories below are obviously not a comprehensive list.  They represent what happens to be synthesizing in my current experiences, reading, and discussions with colleagues and my PLN.  They help me answer the Why which in turn guide the How and What of history and social studies education. What theories would you add to the list?  What do you think of these?  Enjoy!


  1. Carol DweckMind Set :
    Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and mindsetsuccess—a simple idea that makes all the difference.In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships.

Test your Mindset here!


2. Daniel GolemanEmotional Intelligence:   The phrase, or its casual shorthand EQ, argues that IQ, or conventional intelligence, is too narrow; that there are wider areas of Emotional Intelligence that dictate and EQ at workenable how successful we are. Success requires more than IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring essential behavioural and character elements. We’ve all met people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially and inter-personally inept. And we know that despite possessing a high IQ rating, success does not automatically follow.

“Most gratifying for me has been how ardently the concept has been embraced by educators, in the form of programs in “social and emotional learning or SEL. Back in 1995 I was able to find only a handful of such programs teaching emotional intelligence skills to children. Now, a decade later, tens of thousands of schools worldwide offer children SEL. In the United States many districts and even entire states currently make SEL curriculum requirement, mandating that just as students must attain a certain level of competence in math and language, so too should they master these essential skills for living.”

3. Sugata Mitra – Minimally Invasive Education:  MIE is a pedagogic method that uses the learning environment to generate an adequate level of motivation to induce learning in groups of children, with minimal, or no, intervention by a teacher.  Mitra suggests this approach develops “functional literacy” in students and demands reflection on how time and money  is being spent in education: “If computer literacy is defined as turning a computer on and off and doing the basic functions, then this method allows that kind of computer literacy to be achieved with no formal instruction. Therefore any formal instruction for that kind of education is a waste of time and money. You can use that time and money to have a teacher teach something else that children cannot learn on their own.” 

Minimally Invasive Education in school asserts there are many ways to study and learn. It argues that learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you. Another advantage is that MIE ensures that children themselves take ownership of the Learning Station by forming self-organized groups who learn on their own. Finally an unsupervised setting ensures that the entire process of learning is learner-centric and is driven by a child’s natural curiosity.

Mitra has recently announced the Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE).  SOLE is a place where children can work in groups, access the internet and other software, follow up on a class activity or project or take them where their interests lead them.  Download the toolkit and try it out.

4. Phil SchlectlyEngagement Theory:  Schlectly focuses attention on student motivation and the strategies needed to increase the engagementprospect that schools and teachers will be positioned to increase the presence of engaging tasks and activities in the routine life of the school. The Theory of Engagement proceeds from a number of assumptions. The most critical ones focus on the way school tasks and activities are designed and student decisions regarding the personal consequences of doing the task assigned or participating in the activity.  The use of technology, although commonly supposed, is not a requirement for Schlectly’s theory. In fact,  the technology – engagement relationship has spawned its own body of research and literature. In turn, the theory looks at the effectiveness of teachers leading students through discussions and action planning.  Letting students take control of their learning, and use the school as a network, would definitely be a step in a different direction.  Schlectly also mentions “that relationships, and the work assigned directly impacts student’s performance.”


5. Paulo FreireCritical Pedagogy: Critical Pedagogy is a domain of education and research that studies the social, cultural, political, economic, and cognitive dynamics of teaching and learning. Critical Pedagogy emphasizes the impact of power relationships in the educational process. Emerging in the late 1960s with the work of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, Critical Pedagogy has evolved as a cross-disciplinary field. “Critical Pedagogy would never find it sufficient to reform the habits of thought of thinkers, however effectively, without challenging and transforming the institutions, ideologies, and relations that engender distorted, oppressed thinking in the first place — not as an Freireadditional act beyond the pedagogical one, but as an inseparable part of it. The method of Critical Pedagogy for Freire involves, to use his phrase, “reading the world” as well as “reading the word” (Freire & Macedo 1987). Part of developing a critical consciousness, as noted above, is critiquing the social relations, social institutions, and social traditions that create and maintain conditions of oppression. For Freire, the teaching of literacy is a primary form of cultural action, and as action it must “relate speaking the word to transforming reality”(Freire 1970a, 4).




6. George SiemensConnectivismAt the core, connectivism is a form of experiential learning which prioritizes the set of connections formed by actions and experience over the idea that knowledge is propositional. It shares with some other theories a core proposition, that knowledge is not acquired, as though it were a thing. Knowledge is, on this theory, literally the set of connections formed by actions and experience.  One aspect of connectivism is its central metaphor of a network with nodes and connections.In this metaphor, a node is anything that can be connected to another node such as an organization, information, data, feelings and images. Connectivism sees learning as the process of creating connections and elaborating a network. Not all connections are of equal strength.

The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.

7. Lev VykotskySocial Constructivis Theory:  Vykotsky, when juxtaposed to Piaget, emphasized the social interactions between students and teachers.  In short positive relationships are significant to learning.

His Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) are two of Vykotsky’s major legacies found in contemporary education. ZPD addresses the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. Vykotsky sees the area in the ZPD as where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given – allowing the child to develop skills they will then use on their own – developing higher mental functions.

Vygotsky believed during the learning process children first learn by imitating adults. In the beginning, children are unable to complete a particular task without assistance. Over time, this child may be able to complete more complex tasks with adult assistance because the ZPD of a child isn’t stagnant, it continuously changes as he or she conquers increasingly difficult work over time. Focusing more on education, ZPD can be useful to educators because it should remind them how students can be expanded to reach goals with or without adult direction and support. This is often referred to as “Scaffolding.”

The MKO strongly relates to ZPD: “it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept.

Although the implication is that the MKO is a teacher or an older adult, this is not necessarily the case.  Many times, a child’s peers or an adult’s children may be the individuals with more knowledge or experience. In fact, the MKO need not be a person at all (website, video).   The key to MKOs is that they must have (or be programmed with) more knowledge about the topic being learned than the learner does.”

8. Gary Marx16 Trends: Sixteen Trends … Their Profound Impact on Our Future, and Future Focused Leadership … Preparing Schools, Students, and Communities for Tomorrow’s Realities, lays out evidence for major trends and then speculates on their profound implications for society at large and education systems, such as schools and colleges, in particular.  He adds, “We have a distinct choice–we can simply defend what we have…or we can create what we need to get our students, our schools, and our communities ready for a fast-changing world.”

His new book will build upon his 16 trends.  Marx states “The next generation in the trends series focuses on political, economic, social, technological, demographic, and environmental trends. Among more than 20 societal forces that will get special attention in the upcoming book are identity and privacy, sustainability, scarcity vs. abundance, and energy. They are in addition to dramatic developments in aging, diversity, the flow of generations, technology, interdependence, and the environment, to name a few. Massive trends that impact the whole of society provide an outstanding launch pad for active learning, project-based education, real-world education, teaching thinking and reasoning/problem solving skills, and learning through inquiry. Students are drawn to using futures tools, such as trend analysis, issue analysis, and gap analysis because each one comes with an invitation to consider implications for shaping their own futures. The new book will be published by Education Week Press.


9. Howard Gardner –  Multiple Intelligences:  Arguably the most influential educational movement of recent educational practice, MI has had to contend against rampant misconcpetions and faculty application of Gardner’s theory.  I have come across this numerous times in my career. So, please, be on guard when practioners reference Gardner. Gardner defined the first seven intelligences in Frames of Mind in 1983.  He added two more, Naturalist and Existentialist,  in Intelligence Reframed in 1999.  “Based on his study of many people from many different walks of life in everyday circumstances and professions, Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner’s MI Theory challenged traditional beliefs in the fields of education and cognitive science.  According to a traditional definition, intelligence is a uniform cognitive capacity people are born with.  This capacity can be easily measured by short-answer tests.  According to Gardner, intelligence is:

  • The ability to create an effective product or offer a service that is valued in a culture9_MI
  • A set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life
  • The potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge

In addition, Gardner claims that:

  • All human beings possess all intelligences in varying amounts
  • Each person has a different intellectual composition
  • We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students
  • These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together
  • These intelligences may define the human species
  • Multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened
  • Each individual has nine intelligences (and maybe more to be discovered)



10. Benjamin Bloom/Lorin Anderson – Revised Taxonomy:  “In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. During the 1990’s a new group of cognitive psychologists, lead by Lorin Andersonblooms_gears_ipad_720x952-2cpl0pd1 (a former student of Bloom), updated the taxonomy to reflect relevance to 21st century work. The change from nouns to verbs associated with each level is significant.”   It is important to know that the list of action words that are typically associated with each level does not guarantee that students are engaged at that level.  Specific expectations and follow up questioning is essential to the process.  For example, asking students to “Compare and Contrast two images”  does not automatically place student thought at the “Analysis” level.  More is needed from the teacher.  For example “Compare and Contrast two images.  Explain your 3-4 findings that address the economic and social contexts of both images. Which do you find more appealing and why?”

Debate about the need to master a lower level of the taxonomy prior to advancing to the next one is prevalent.   Can student’s engage with a higher level first or is the lowest level the entry point for Bloom?  My belief is yes students can be engaged at higher levels first. In fact the “hierarchy” dimension of Bloom has been challenged and conceived as a fluid network of thought and action.







The Connected Educator’s Full House: 8 “Ace” Resources

As legend and history relates, the “Dead Man’s Hand”, 2 pairs – Aces and Eights, was Wild Bill Hickok’s final deal.  He was killed at the poker table in Deadwood in the Dakota Territory at the Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in 1876.  His murderer, Jack McCall shot him through the head from behind.  Despite some “authoritative” claims to what the fifth card was in Hickok’s star crossed hand, it remains a mystery. One poker website notes:

 “The transcript of McCall’s trial, for having shot Hickok, has a witness claiming that the fifth card was the jack of diamonds. The card used in the

Hickok’s final hand. How will educator’s play their hand?


re-creation of the shooting in Deadwood, as well as the card supposedly suggested by other eyewitnesses is the nine of diamonds.” And finally, the Deadwood museum uses a five of diamonds that is on display in Deadwood. “I suppose nobody will ever know, considering the town of Deadwood, and alot of its records, burnt to the ground in 1879”

I like to imagine, at least for this blog post, that the mystery card was actually an Ace or an 8.  Bill’s hand would have been better, at least.


So, what hand has been dealt to contemporary educators?  In March, the Huffington Post reported  their findings from a teacher satisfaction survey.  The findings are not optimistic; and maybe not too surprising.  “As school districts continued to cut budgets, increase class sizes, and implement teacher performance evaluations, teachers’ job satisfaction plummeted in 2012, reaching an all-time low…Teachers’ job satisfaction has declined 23 percentage points in the five years since 2008, according to the long-running survey of educators and principals. Only 39 percent of teachers reported they were very satisfied, the least since 1987, the survey showed. The percentage of teachers who said they were very satisfied dropped five percentage points in 2012.”

No quick fixes here. However,  I have found that there are benefits when educators are networked.  I believe it increases morale, innovation, collaboration, inspiration, and general support.  Overall, a sense of professionalism increases.  I have created two categories network benefits below.  Have fun exploring them, getting involved, sharing and using them.

I wonder if any cards were wild in Wild Bill’s last hand.  Regardless, all of the resources below have wild benefits for you and your students. No bluff. Your deal!



4 Ace Online Professional Development/Networking Opportunities


1- The Connected Educator Month Archives:  Funded by the US Department of Education.  The Connected Educator Month 2012 Archives have been officially released, with nearly one hundred recordings, transcripts, and other professional development resources to date from CEM 2012, searchable by format, audience, and topic.  Be sure to check out the session “Professional Learning and the Learning Profession” which addresses such questions like

  • What and where are the best (social) opportunities for educators to work on and learn for their practice in the coming year?
  • What steps should every educator consider taking to become more connected, and what are the key resources that can help?
  • In what kinds of learning do teachers (and other educators) need to be engaged in the 21st century, and how will technology help?
  • What are the key methodological and content trends in the classroom (e.g., flipped classrooms, core standards) with which technology (in general) and communities or networks (specifically) can impact and help?




2- The School Leadership Summit: Thursday, March 28th, is the inaugural, online, and free School Leadership Summit.

It is a unique chance to participate in a virtual and collaborative global conversation on school leadership with presentations by practitioners.  Conference strands are aligned to the internationally-recognized ISTE National Education Technology Standards for Administrators and include the leadership topics of: Vision in a Changing World, Teaching and Learning in a Changing World, Professional Learning in a Changing World, Data-driven Reform in a Changing World, and Ethical and Responsible Use in a Changing World.  TICAL (the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership) is the founding partner of the conference.

 The Summit is held online using Blackboard Collaborate and open to anyone to attend.  The conference schedule is kept current at and during the conference will be viewable by specific world time zones. Visit my session at 7:00 pm.
3 –ASCD Webinars:  ASCD’s free webinar series brings experts in the field of education to a computer near you. Their webinars address timely and relevant topics like the Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning strategies, and closing the achievement gap.  Bonus hand, they archive each webinar, so you will never have to miss your deal.  Also, ASCD takes suggestions. Be sure to fill out their request feature.
4- The Educators PLN: This is a ning site dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators. Resources, blogs, other websites, discussion forums and more make this a hyper active community. Browse the “Leader Board” to get an idea of who is doing what and who is most active. So, sign up, create your profile page and let the networking begin.

4 Ace Online/Classroom Resources:

1-Show World: The website creates a map morph based on the criteria you select. All you do is select a subject from the top menu and watch the countries on the map change their size. Instead of land mass, the size of each country will represent the data for that subject –both its share of the total and absolute value. The main topics “People, Planet, Politics, Business, and Living” have a multitude of sub categories to choose from. Also, the site allows you to explore data for the World, the US, and Japan.  Data sources are cited, there are zoom options, a table that ranks the category leader and much more. The search for the  screen shot is based on the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the world.  Eat up…


2- Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square: The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria leading journalists at TIME and CNN, and other international thinkers.Record his show and watch a segment in class. Features include


3- TED Ed: TED-Ed is a website for teachers and learners. Lessons worth sharing allows you use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch.  You can also get involved or recommend someone: “The most meaningful TED-Ed videos are collaborations between the TED-Ed team and at least one of the following: a curious learner, an exceptional educator, or a talented visualization artist. If you are one of these types of people, or if you know someone who is, please help guide our effort to create a library of lessons worth sharing…”  Check this out!


4- Open Culture: Formed in 2006, Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and other enriching content — it’s all there!  I just watched Waiting for Godot.


Seattle to St. Thomas: 5 Reflections from the U.S. Empire

This past week I traveled to two parts of the US empire.  People, American citizens especially, still resist and wrestle with this concept.  High school history courses, promoting the narrative that the US flirted with imperialism during the Spanish-American War but then quickly abandoned the idea,

What does the French soldier mean when he says America fights for the biggest “nothing” in history?

don’t help.  I find it amazing that this narrative persists as the dominant one despite the scholarship that has discredited the national myth.  For me, the first book that really drove the idea of American empire home was Niall Ferguson’s 2004 Colossus.  Ferguson points out “Many Americans doubtless play Age of Empires…But remarkably few Americans -or, for that matter American soldiers – would be willing to admit that their government is currently playing the game for real. This book argues not merely that the United States is an empire, but that it has always been an empire.”

Six years later, the 2010, 500 page plus tour de force Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference  by Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, compares the development of two mighty land based empires the USA and Russia.  In essence, anything beyond the boundaries set by the treaty of Paris in 1783, were imperialistic gains via war, treaty, and treasure. “Within the extension of continental empire to the west, the Euro-American “pioneers” marched along the road to full political participation and statehood; Indians were on a path to the reservation…”  Native Americans are the conquered peoples of the overland American Empire (Seattle, Washington included). The US Virgin Islands, bought from the Danes in 1917 were part of the overseas island empires (Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Samoa, Guam etc) and are classified by the UN as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, and are currently an organized, unincorporated United States territory. But if you go to the US VI, you realize that trading deeds and making inhabitants citizens (of sorts) doesn’t erode a culture of difference.   The resort staff is almost entirely black. And as I talked to a white immigrant from Ohio on the island, she recognized that she had moved to the US imperial hinterland and lived “where the white people do” on the island.

So, while at a conference in Seattle, former home to the Duwamish and Suquamish, and then on vacation in St. Thomas VI where resort workers uncomfortably wished me a “Happy Thanksgiving”, I reflected on these 5 items related to global, history, education, and teaching. Enjoy.


1) 3rd Annual Global Ed Conference:  Wow! Another great conference. For three years Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon  have co piloted a landmark event. This year’s conference was co-sponsored by iEARN. With an expanding staff, following, presenters, archive, and energy, the conference is part of the present and future of professional development.  Check out the archives over the past three years, there is so much there.  Time and space no longer restrict PD opportunities.  My two presentations are linked below. The first as a presenter and the second as a guest panelist. Get involved!

(a) Navigating a Flat World: Teaching Globalization in Secondary Education:  Recording is found here    This is my 3rd presentation at GEC conferences (See my blog menu for the other two).  How come the most influential concept, process, and phenomenon not explicitly taught in high school? How can we claim to have a 21st century education without it being part of school curricula?

(b) Keynote Speaker Ed Gragert: Conference Wrap Up: Recording is found here  . I presented ideas about the future of professional development (PD) and how it can catch up to how we teach students – Personalized, Teacher Created Knowledge, and Technology Enhanced and Networked PD.It was a great tribute to all those who made the conference possible.


2)  93rd NCSS Conference:  The theme of the 2012 conference, held in Seattle WA, was “Opening Windows to the World.” The event offered 3 days programing and presentations across the social studies educational landscape.  Everyone knew, however, that the main event was the unveiling of the NCSS social studies framework.  That event, however was pushed back until the next conference in St. Louis.  In the interim, a panel outlined what had been done, what future work can be expected,  fielded questions from the audience, and shared the Vision for the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards .  This document “provides guidance for states to use in enhancing their standards for rigor in civics, economics, geography, and history in K-12 schools. The C3 Framework, currently under development, will ultimately focus on the disciplinary and multidisciplinary concepts and practices that make up the process of investigation, analysis, and explanation which will be informative to states interested in upgrading their social studies standards. The forthcoming framework, to be released in 2013, will be a significant resource for all states to consider in their local processes for upgrading state social studies standards, rather than set standards for states to adopt.”   Take a look, start the discussion, and post your comments.  For example… where does sociology, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology fit?  Is civics a discipline?

3) Online Facebook Debate: Anyone can engage Harvard Historian and Department Chair David Armitage in an online Facebook debate! Sponsored by the journal Itineario, Armitage’s opening statement addresses the question “Are we all global historians now?”  Part of Armitage’s response is “But in one strong sense we could say that we all have to be global historians now. By that I mean, if you are not doing . . . this formulation will get me into trouble, but let me nevertheless put it in these strong terms: if you are not doing an explicitly transnational, international or global project, you now have to explain why you are not… The hegemony of national historiography is over.”   Join the conversation and comment on Facebook here. Armitage’s full interview is here.

4) Contributors Wanted: American Imperialism and Expansion: ABC-CLIO Press is publishing Imperialism and Expansionism in American
History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia, an ambitious, 880,000-word, 4-volume project that will serve as ABC-CLIOs lead American history title for 2014. Each of the 4 volumes will include an historical overview, chronology, thematically organized A-Z entries, primary sources, glossary, and bibliography. For topics pertaining to the 18th and 19th centuries, including expansion within the continental U.S.: David Bernstein:    For topics pertaining to the 20th century: Chris Magoc:   I have signed up for three so far – “Isolationism”, “GI Joe (yes the toy)”, and “Top Gun (film)”.

5) Online Education & Best Practices What makes an online class a successful experience for students and teachers.  One answer is the same one we can yse for a F2F classroom… good  teaching.  Effective online educators are made not born. Regardless of the platform you use or the subject you teach, these 20+ characteristics should be core beliefs and practices for online education shared by teachers and students.  Sponsored by edudemic, the list will reinforce some strategies, remind you of ones forgotten, and reveal new pedagogy to consider.  My favorite is number 2 “Online should never mean easy, for teachers or students“… which is yours?








Teaching in a Flat World during International(?) Week: Globalization and the Global Ed Conference

I recently came across this quote/mantra from Ian Juke  (futurist, educator, author):  “We need to prepare students for their future, not our past. I like that.   It would make a great theme for this year’s  International Education Week designated from Nov 12-16.  Started in 2000, IEW is celebrated in 100 nations (factsheet here).  Let’s here Secretary’s Duncan’s overview:

Hmmmm. Title IX, a great laudable achievement indeed,  seems to fall short of an international theme I was expecting.  Even under the umbrella of “global health” the narrative finds its way back to the the celebration of the “national” on a global stage.  The connection to the Olympics is well taken,but feels like an after thought to extend a “national” event (Title IX) into the broader world.  I feel we can do better. But where can we go for inspiration?

The Global Education Conference, conveniently held during the same week, is a fantastic outlet (or alternative to the DOE’s  for theme this year) for topics in international education.  ” The third annual Global Education Conference, a free week-long online event bringing together educators and innovators from around the world, will be held Monday, November 12 through Friday, November 16, 2012 (Saturday, November 17th in some time zones). The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate platform (formerly known as Elluminate/Wimba) with the support of iEARN worldwide as the conference founding sponsor, who will be running their annual international conference in conjunction with this event.

The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, inclusive, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all

The 2010 and 2011 archives are available at their website. Amazing!

levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity. Last year’s conference featured 340 general sessions and 18 keynote addresses from all over the world with over 10,000 participant logins.”  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Please attend my session “Navigating a Flat World: Teaching Globalization in Secondary Education” on Tuesday, November 13th from 7-8 pm EDT.   link is here

Below is a preview to the session.  I look forward to your feedback, insights, and continued discussion on this topic.  Enjoy & see you soon.


Globalization, the dominant system, force, and project impacting our political, economic, social, and cultural lives, isn’t widely or deeply studied in United States’ high schools.  Typically, globalization is relegated to a topic “covered” at the end of the school year in a World History course or integrated into “current event” styled assignments.  In rare cases, high schools courses offerings include an elective course on globalization or highlight as a school wide “habit of mind” in an effort to demonstrate dedication to global education. Effectively engaging students with globalization, therefore, is largely directed by classroom teachers. Enhancing teachers’ knowledge, instruction, assessment, and professional development around globalization should be an imperative in contemporary education. How is globalization conceptualized and taught by your department, school, and individuals in your district?

Globalization, furthermore, has challenged the education profession to reflect upon established contemporary educational theory and policy, as well as rethink educational outcomes and pedagogy. Systematically, this is typically directed under the auspices of 21st century teaching, leading, and learning and/or initiatives around college and career readiness.  Specific to social studies and history education, globalization suggests the need for alternative narratives beyond the traditional national and civilizational contexts that have dominated the field for generations. In turn, a sincere engagement with globalization in high school curriculum yields opportunities for educators to rethink their craft and impact student understanding of their contemporary and future realities.


Below, are two experiences/lessons around a pair of ideas essential to an authentic understanding of the complexities of globalization. The outcomes of these lessons were instructive for both me and my students.  However, the objective is to move globalization from the margins of education to the center of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and cultural identity of schools. I am confident that if you explore these topics individually or in a PLC, as part of formal professional development or as a practice of a professional educator, students will benefit from your experience and knowledge. Moving forward, it is essential for high school history and social studies educators (with the support and guidance from administrations) to modify  instructional strategies and expand their content knowledge in order to explicitly explore globalization as an essential part of 21st century education.

Experience 1 – Defining Globalization:

Overview:  One explanation of globalization defines it as the ongoing acceleration of economic, social and cultural exchanges across the planet (Suarez-Orozco & Sattin, 2007).  The late Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillo framed globalization, in part, as contemporary utopian construct.  Thomas Friedman’s “flatness” parlance is part of society’s collective consciousness. But these are but a few of the conceptualizations of globalization. Moreover, virtually every historical issue is a complex web with a multitude of contexts and overlapping networks. The narratives we produce and teach about globalization greatly impacts our students’ understanding.

 Essential Questions:

In what ways is globalization a process or set of systems and structures that produces global flows and networks?

To what extent is globalization a designed project directed by individuals, groups, companies, institutions etc?

What is power and what types of power are there?

How do we complicate the “the West and the Rest” exceptionalist narrative?

What individuals, groups, and systems have agency in our global world?

What is the “global village” and how valid is that concept?

Sample Instruction:

  • I provided student groups with one vocabulary list t accompanied with varying explanations/definitions of globalization.
  • Students summarized there explanation/definition to the class.
  • When complete, the definitions were compared and contrasted.
  • As a class we predicted who would find these definitions valid and accompanied photos of global events to help guide the discussion
  • Note as an extra I would show scenes from the film Baraka as well.
  • As a closure, I introduced the concepts of “Social Construct” and “Narrative”

Experience 2 – Globalized Grays:

Overview Professor John Willinsky, in his work Education at Empire’s End, explains the legacy of binary thought that produced “such two-dimensional spectrums as civilized and savage, West and East, white and black.”  In turn, the process of othering becomes built in to history and social studies education. The globalized world we live in, however, is complex and nuanced and should be taught as such.  Rethinking the past as a shared arena suggests that the realities of globalization complicates world views and identities, and challenges constructed realities and categories of thought.  One simple way to address the binary legacy is to always consider a third alternative. This simple step challenges accepted (and limited) world views.

Essential Questions:

How can you move beyond dualities to expand student understanding?

Do you teach students about “othering” and the limitations of an us/them mentality?

Is culture taught as a dynamic process or a set package of essentialized ideas and values?

How are terms like “modern” and “civilized” used and explained to students?

How much collaboration do you do with educators outside of your school, state, and nation?

 Sample Lesson:

  • Set up a list of RSS feeds from a range of media sources around the world accessible for your students (I used NetVibes).
  • This will establish a “flipped classroom” aspect where students can access this site outside of school.
  • Assign students a current event topic that is covered by a range of global news agencies and sources. OR, present a US article of an event in class as the “control” article, and have students explore as above.
  • (As a side, I used a map resource as well, for students to track where they looked for media coverage. You can set guidelines about this too.)
  • Assessment can vary obviously (reflective, summative, compare and contrast) but I required students to identify at least three takes on the event.  More versions would receive higher points.

Suggested Sources













The Birth of the Modern World   Bayly’s contribution to this lexicon provides an analytical framework rooted in the re-conception of modernity.

Interconnectedness and interdependence of political and social changes across the world…resulting in human action adjusted to each other and came to resemble each other across the world.  These rapidly changing connections between different human societies during the nineteenth century created many hybrid polities, mixed ideologies, ands complex forms of global economic activity. Yet… these connections could also heighten the sense of difference… But those differences were increasingly expressed in similar ways.19

The Early American Republic’s Encounters with the “Muslim World” – Yes, they happened!

Recent events in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and across the geo-cultural region we call the “Muslim World” has the high potential to reinforce two limited, over-simplified world views:

  1. A Binary Us-Them Mentality
  2. A totalizing “Othering” of a group

Performing a simple search of recent headlines  uncovers dramatic labels “Mayhem in the Middle East”, “Islamic Anger”,  and, of course, Newsweek’s ridiculous cover – “Muslim Rage” – which yielded an abundance of retorts (i.e. Salon  and The International Business Times).

Fortunately, addressing these can be done in classrooms on a daily basis. In fact, addressing both of these cosmologies, I argue, is essential for any high school program that embraces paradigms of 21stcentury education and/or global awareness. However, despite these “en vogue” educational monikers, there is no guarantee that social constructs regarding “identity” and “culture” are addressed with sufficient depth and rigor.  Doing so would empower students to engage media coverage. Doing so would be an indicator that contemporary education takes serious the claim “college and career readiness.”

In a recent blog post Daniel Martin Varisco, professor of anthropology at Hofstra University, addresses the constructed  “Muslim” problem: “There is a problem with labeling here. Just because the protesters are “Muslim” in principle does not mean they represent the vast majority of Muslims in these countries. A very small minority is taking advantage of an out-of-control situation to power play.”

Newsweek’s cover is evidence that Edward Said’s Oreintalism is alive and well. Click here to hear Said in a 4 part video.


I have found these three instructional approaches to be effective, engaging  starting points for students to understand world views and reflect on their own:

  • Defining “Social Construct” – I contend this is a key term missing from every curriculum  and program standards  I have seen.
  • Emphasize complexity by refusing binary explanations and either/or options. (This includes how we teach the Cold War, for example.)
  • Define “Culture” as a fluid, changing, complex set of meanings that are created and not as a natural, essentialized package of actions and beliefs.

So, back to the Muslim World, what opportunities do teachers of US History surveys have to promote complexity and variety this early in the school year. Across the board, US History textbooks don’t mention US-Muslim relationships as part of the early American curriculum – instead focusing on US relations with UK, France, and Native Americans. Typically, US relations with the Muslim world is framed as a 20th century phenomenon manifesting from the achieved “super power” status that put the US in the  backyards of  nations worldwide.

Likewise, teachers may not be aware of the growing scholarship in this field.  Below, I offer 5 events/ideas/people that highlight  US-Muslim encounters between 1776-1830.  Check to see if your textbooks include these items and leave a comment with the book title and publisher so we can applaud their globalizing efforts.

a) American Independence:    In 1777, Morocco became the first country whose head of state, Sultan Muhammad III,  publicly recognized the new, independent  United States of America.  A decade later, Thomas Barclay, the American consul in France, arrived in Morocco in 1786 and negotiated the “Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship”. The agreement was signed later that year in Europe by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and ratified by Congress in July 1787. Thomas Ogot, in General History of Africa, concludes that the treaty “has withstood transatlantic stresses and strains for more than 220 years, making it the keystone of the longest unbroken treaty relationship in United States history.”

b) 1796 US Treaty with Tripoli: An obscure treaty that addressed US naval and trade relations across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean.  Article 11, below, is an interesting statement to research and discuss:  “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

It is important to contextualize President Adams’ 1797 Treaty. Article 11 is especially ripe for debate. Click here for President Obama’s reference to it.

c)Muslim Slaves: Gordon Wood in his 2009 work Empire of Liberty states “He (George Washington) expressed toleration for all religions, including the religion of Muslims and Jews… there were not many Muslims in America a the time of Washington’s inauguration – perhaps only a small community of Moroccans in Charleston, SC.” A report by the Arab American National Museum  in Dearborn, MI writes: According to some estimates, between the 1600s and the mid-1800s, 30% of African American slaves were Muslim and many spoke Arabic.

d) The Tripolitan War:  The young American navy fought the Ottoman Empire’s outlying regions Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis.  But the American Marines who landed on “the shores of Tripoli”  also allied themselves with Muslim factions that opposed the ruling class and leadership. Historian Max Boot, displaying great historical relativism, writes: “It is tempting to compare the Barbary States to  modern Islamist states that preach jihad…it is a temptation best resisted. The rulers of the Ottoman Empire and its North Africa tributaries were not particularly xenophobic nor especially fundamentalist… they were uncommonly cosmopolitan and tolerant… offering more protection than did many European states to flourishing Jewish communities.” The Savage Wars of Peace

e) King Andrew’s Foreign Policy: Known for his Indian Removal, rugged individual democracy, and broadening Presidential power, US History survey courses routinely overlook Jackson’s greatest foreign policy accomplishment. His 1830 treaty with the Ottoman Empire elevated American prestige in the eyes of the Turks to the level held by Europe.  The Treaty of Navigation and Commerce  allowed the US to trade in the Black Sea, deal arms to the Ottoman Empire, sell Lowell, MA cotton in Damascus, and led to profitable trade on the Arabian Peninsula. An American port in Istanbul constructed the world’s largest battleship at the time, the 934 ton Mahmud.  Overall, the treaty is considered to be a major turning point in American global power and influence.

Complicating accepted framework regarding US – Muslim relations, or any accepted categories of thought, is a powerful enterprise.  This can be accomplished in the most unlikely of places, the history of early American Republic. I hope this listing helps and if all else fails, read Orientalism , Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present.





Gold Medal Global Education

Sorry for the delay in this post.  Vacation got in the way.  Nevertheless, I am back and excited about the 2012 Olympics.  The mascots are a bit bizarre and their cycloptic vision is certainly not something that should be promoted in history or global

Wenlock and Mandeville, a bit Hux-wellian? Click hear to see a classic opening ceremony.

education.  Also, is was unfortunate that during the opening ceremony’s parade of nations, all Bob Costas could muster about Uganda was a reference to Idi Amin.  Why he did so is probably best explained by reading John Willinsky’s classic text Learning to Divide The World. Beyond these non-athletic based observations,  the spirit  of the Olympics and athletic competition is infectious.

A friend of mine suggested a fitting icebreaker, which also gives me the opportunity to use, for the first time in this blog, a polling toll. Check it out and be heard!

What is your favorite Summer Olympic event?

I recall, from my classroom days,  students consistently asking what the 5 Olympic Rings represent.  Do you know? Here is the explanation taken from the Olympic website:

The rings are interlocking and arranged in a trapezoid shape in colors blue, black, red, yellow, and green.Pierre de Coubertin first proposed this symbol at the1914 Olympic congress in Paris. Upon its initial introduction, de Coubertin stated

“…the six colors [including the flag’s white background] thus combined reproduce the colors of all the nations, with no exception. The blue and yellow of Sweden, the blue and white of Greece, the tri- colours of France, England and America, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, the yellow and red of Spain next to the novelties of Brazil or Australia, with old Japan and new China. Here is truly an international symbol.”

5 continents or 7? Remember this great cold-war era soccer gold medal match?

The Olympic flag flew for the first time in an Olympic stadium in 1920 during the Antwerp Games. If the number of rings represents the continents, the colors (six of them, counting the white background) were chosen to ensure that every country would have at least one of the colors in its national flag included. Overall, the five rings that make up the Olympic symbol  represent the universality of the Olympics  and of athletes from around the globe.

For purposes related to this blog, I see the rings as an opportunity to share some “gold medal” global education programs. Check them out, share them, leave some comments, explore, and enjoy .

1)       IREX: Teachers For Global Classrooms

The Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program provides a professional development opportunity for middle and high school teachers from the United States to participate in a program aimed at globalizing teaching and learning in their classrooms. TGC is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX. Participants are selected through a national, open competition. Eligible applicants must be U.S. citizens and full-time secondary-level (middle or high school), teaching professionals with five or more years of classroom experience in disciplines including English as a Second Language, English Language or Literature, Social Studies, Mathematics, or Science.

2)    Connected Educators Month:

Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating and others aren’t realizing the full benefits. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative is launching Connected Educator Month in August 2012. Throughout August, there will be coordinated opportunities to participate in events and activities in dozens of online locations to develop skills and enhance one’s personal learning network.

Be sure to check out the webinar I am leading on August 20th at 11:00 am EDT on the AHA’s Tuning History project.

3) Google World Wonders Project:

The World Wonders Project is a valuable resource for students and scholars who can now virtually discover some of the most famous sites on earth. The project offers an innovative way to teach history and geography to students of primary and secondary schools all over the world. By using our Street View technology, Google has a unique opportunity to make world heritage sites available to users across the globe. With advancements in our camera technologies we can now go off the beaten track to photograph some of the most significant places in the world so that anyone, anywhere can explore them.

4)  The Longview Foundation: 

Founded by William L. Breese, the Longview Foundation for World Affairs and International Understanding has been helping young people in the United States learn about world regions and global issues since 1966. At the dawn of the 21st century, knowledge of other peoples, economies, languages and international affairs has become a necessity for every child. Eliminating global poverty, solving international conflicts, working in new markets, and addressing global health and environmental problems require international knowledge and cooperation. And in our increasingly diverse communities in the United States, knowledge of other cultures is essential to strengthening our own democracy.

5)   Teachers Without Borders:

At over 59 million, teachers are the largest group of trained professionals in the world. As transmitters of knowledge and community leaders, teachers are powerful catalysts for lasting global change. However, teacher professional development is often irrelevant, inconsequential, or missing entirely. Teachers must therefore have a support network to provide the resources, training, tools and colleagues they need to fulfill their important role. Teachers Without Borders offers that support. We do not send teachers from the West to the East or from the North to the South; rather, we provide the space for teachers around the world to find and learn from each other.

6) OER Conferences (two events)

Open Education has come of age. The tiny movement that began in the late 1990s as a desire to increase access to educational opportunity has blossomed into requirements in national grant programs, key strategies in state legislatures and offices of education, content sharing initiatives at hundreds of universities and high schools, and a wide range of innovation and entrepreneurship in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors.

The Past: The presentations at UNESCO’s June 2012 conference in Paris are archived and can be viewed here.

The Future:  OpenEd12, the ninth annual Open Education Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia  “Beyond Content”

Globalizing America’s Schools: Principles and Theory for Administrators

Happy belated 2012!  My hiatus since October, due to a job change and relocation to the Washington D.C. area, is now officially over.  I plan to be in top form, posting weekly, and taking The Global, History Educator to new levels.

The catalyst for my return was last week’s Global Symposium hosted by The International Research & Exchanges Board  (IREX), “an international nonprofit organization providing thought leadership and innovative programs to promote positive lasting change globally” in Washington D.C.’s L’Enfant Plaza Hotel.  This event celebrated the Teachers for Global Classrooms program; applications for next year are due March 12th! The Symposium brought together IREX’s cohort of global high school educators (over 60!), their administrators, organizations dedicated to global education (like Primary Source, iEARN,  and the Asia Society).  I found the symposium to be filled with positive energy and possibilities- two hallmarks of a successful educational program.

Click here for Tony Jackson's 15 minute speech "Global Competence and its Significance to American Schools"

It is interesting to note that “global education” does carry a range of interpretations and definitions.  What comes to mind when you think of or speak about  Global Education? Is it a flexible concept or set idea?


There are some core theoretical  tenets, however, which drive practice, application and policies around global education.  I had the opportunity to present my understanding of these core ideas to roughly 40 school administrators at the IREX symposium.  My segment was followed by an interactive session facilitated by Ms. Julia de la Torre of Primary Source. Together, our session “Principles for Globalizing Schools: From Mission to Practice” was designed to give school administrators  an overview of key principles in global and to enhance their school’s level of global education.

You can view my Global Symposium presentation Power Point with audio on each slide at the link below:

Lessons and Reflections in Global EducationEDUBLOG

If you have any questions or comments  about my presentation, please let me know. I look forward to them and find discussions around this topic to be, well, fun.

After my introduction, administrators were asked to draw what a student engaged in global education would look like. Three of their collaborative pieces are below. They can be a inroad for broader discussions. Some questions that came to mind around these images were: What do they have in common? What are they missing? What do they value? How do the creators understand global education? What would you change, add? Can you list values, skills, or literacies from these images; are they valuable to contemporary education?

“The conclusion:” IREX reported,  “global education spans disciplines, demonstrates 21st century student competence, and is a necessary aspect of U.S. core curricula. “I used to think about global education in a passive way,” an administrator noted following the Symposium, “but now I realize that we need to actively engage our students in international thought.”

Well it is good to be back.  Until next time, see you around the globe.

Global Student 1

Global Student 2


Global Student 3