Growing up, I believed there were only two seasons – baseball season and the off-season. Whether you lean towards Field of Dreams or the Natural, baseball and life were beautifully intertwined. But it is never that simple, is it?
Currently, the months of May and June welcomes anther season that has become a different “American past time” related to education. Across the US, schools are presently engrossed in testing season. Instead of hot dogs and popcorn, this season is often marked by stress and anxiety.
For students, high stakes tests end of the year assessments correlate to grade advancement and GPA. For parents, exam results dictate summer – and future – plans and their involvement. For teachers, professional evaluations are directly connected to their students’ performances and, quite possibly, their salary levels. In short, testing season is a very tangible reality!
Preparing for May and June begins at that the start of the school year – if not the summer before. Discussions regarding what resources to use result in important educational decisions. I have found that relevant and impactful resources can be hard to come by. When you discover a program that supports contemporary education it is important to share that resource far and wide.
“Before choosing classroom resources, you need to be confident that they’re based on research and—most importantly—effective in the classroom. That’s why Mentoring Minds stays up to date on ever-changing standards and conducts extensive research on the alignment and efficacy of our products, ensuring that they’re scholastically sound and of the highest quality. We’re the partner you need to stay ahead of the curve.”
But there is more. Overall, Mentoring Mind’s resources are focused, detailed, and support a range of classroom settings and students. In short, the resources represent my two favorite aspects of good education – Explicit and Intentional teaching! Here are my favorite resources from Mentoring Minds.
Total Motivation Reading is a rigorous and comprehensive supplemental resource that integrates critical thinking and prepares Level 2 students to excel in English Language Arts. Designed from the ground up to address 100% of the Common Core Standards.
Strategies and techniques will be shared to assist in personalizing instructional practices to ensure the success of diverse learners. Designing and implementing differentiated instruction can facilitate progress in ways that meet the needs of all learners.
Prevent Academic Failure Support students with learning and behavioral needs with the Response to Intervention (RTI) process. Prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress monitoring, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for students in general education classrooms who continue to exhibit difficulty in learning.
Develop and implement specific strategies to increase parent involvement at school and at home. Hundreds of strategies to build powerful parent partnerships, prepare for parent-teacher meetings, communicate better with parents, and more.
I eagerly await a line of social studies and history resources. But until then, Mentoring Minds offer a range of resources that makes it, well, simple.
Were you at the 94th Annual NCSS conference last month? It was indeed an exciting conference, “Education professionals gathered last month in Boston to explore best practices and inquiry-based teaching of social studies, boosting well-rounded civic learning and building 21st-century skills and social studies disciplinary literacy.” If you were unable to attend the national conference, don’t fret. A list of regional/state events for 2015 are posted here.
One of my personal highlights was getting to introduce this year’s winner of the Global Understanding Award, Kim Young. Meeting her reminded me anthropologist Anna Tsing ‘s 2005 work Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Tsing asserts
“Global connections are made in fragments- although some fragments are more powerful than others…they interrupt dominant stories of globalization to offer more realistic alternatives. Such fragments…create a world of global connections made, and muddled, in friction. Curiosity about such friction might reopen the mystery of our time.”
It take a special teacher to seek out experiences, fragmented and with potential friction, and share them with her students. Then, once back in the classroom, that same remarkable teacher is able to inspire students about the narratives, realities, and friction of globalization. And, ultimately, those lucky students’ curiosity is sustained for their lifespan because of the teacher’s guidance.
I had the pleasure to interview one of those teachers, Kim Young. Our exchange is below. Enjoy!
1- Tell us about yourself. How did you get into teaching? What and who do you teach?
Kim on one of her adventure, educational excursions…see what “Yes” can get you?!
Hello readers! My name is Kim Young. I’ve been teaching World History at Weston High School in Weston, Massachusetts for 10 years. I’ve also helped spearhead many of my district’s efforts to globalize our curriculum as Global Education Coordinator. I think I’m one of those people who have always been a teacher. My mom was a teacher and my first jobs were as a camp counselor and coach. Growing up, I always remembered how my teachers presented lesson plans, and which methods were most engaging and effective. I enjoy teaching because I get to live my passion for global cultures everyday.
2- Who or what inspired you to apply to the NCSS award? How did you decide on your submission?
Necessity! I am taking an unpaid leave from my teaching position this winter to pursue a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant. I was scouring the internet for creative sources of funding and came across the NCSS Award. Luckily, I have supportive colleagues who helped me with the process when I mentioned the idea to them. I knew right away I would submit my “Complicating Conquest: Rethinking the Spanish Invasion of the Americas” curriculum. I feel this is the most innovative and interesting piece of curriculum I’ve developed. It is based entirely on visual, physical, and written primary sources I collected while traveling in Mexico and Peru. The goals of the lessons are truly global and nothing you could ever find in a high school textbook. I hope readers who teach the Age of Exploration or the European colonization of the Americas will check out the curriculum.
3- What have been some of the successes and challenges of using global perspectives with your students?
Great question. As with many things, I think my greatest successes have come from my greatest challenges. Recently, I’ve really been influenced by an article written by Milton J. Bennett on intercultural communication. He writes, “Common sense is, of course, common only to a particular culture.” For 9th graders, developmentally, it is hard to understand the world from a different perspective. I struggling with training (or retraining) students’ brains to observe and ask questions before making judgments—what my students often refer to as “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” I feel most successful when I hear students using the words worldview, perspective, and subjectivity when talking about history. Moving students to action is also always challenging because in many ways, the traditional school day model does not support this type of learning. Bennett writes, “Understanding objective culture may create knowledge, but it doesn’t necessarily generate competence.” If my students are going to be truly globally competent, they need to act based on their emerging globalized perspective.
4- How have your colleagues reacted to your interest in global education?
Everyone is incredibly supportive, even if they don’t always understand why I want to travel to a certain location. They ask me about all of my adventures and are open to trying out the new curricular ideas I bring back. They collaborate with me about how to best support exchange students in our school. They let me decorate their classroom with new artifacts I’ve brought back. I am also very fortunate to have a district that has made promoting Global Education one of its 5 year goals. What I do find most puzzling is when I meet educators who say, “I wish I could do what you do!” For most educators, I don’t see many real reasons holding them back from pursuing different opportunities—you just have to apply. Don’t be overwhelmed, you’ll be amazed at how things fall into place.
5- You showed us this painting during your presentation, The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata (1753, in the Cuzco Cathedral). Tell us about it and how it represents your approach to teaching students.
Guinea Pig? “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”
I love this painting! It is by Marcos Zapata and located in the Cusco Cathedral. This painting is totally representative of my teaching philosophy. Firstly, it is visual. I like to expose students to different types of sources—too often they think history only comes in text. I try to emphasize to my students who struggle with reading that if they can remember images and know how to decode them, they can think just as analytically as when reading a document. Secondly, it’s a primary source. Once students have some context, I like them to work with primary sources since it helps them better understand the perspective of the culture they are studying. This lends itself to my inquiry-based style of teaching. I like to give students evidence with guided questions and have them do the investigating. This way students’ construct their own knowledge and learning. Even if students forget what they learn, hopefully they’ve developed skills for investigating questions in the future. In terms of content, this represents my style because I chose curriculum that emphasizes cultural fusion, cooperation, and interaction. War, conflict, and domination are a part of history—this is a narrative of human interaction my students are familiar with. I like to present a counter-narrative to open them up to other ways of viewing history and the world. Finally, this image is engaging, funny, and a little weird (from an American cultural perspective). Students remember this image because the idea of Jesus eating guinea pig is so far from their cultural norms.
6- You offered a lot of advise at NCSS. Can you summarize those tips again?
Absolutely. One of the best parts of winning the award was being able to present at NCSS. It’s a humbling and thought provoking experience to try and share with colleagues what I feel I’ve learned over the last ten years. I also know that educators out there know what to do—we just get too busy, overwhelmed, or stressed. With my presentation, I wanted to given educators permission to do the things we know make good curriculum.
My main message is that it is important to create curriculum with complexity—–and this is something I feel travel/study really allows educators to do. This is how we can move away from textbook based curriculum and engage our students as global learners. Based on my experiences in these programs, here’s my tips on how to make the best curriculum:
1) Abandon efficiency—We never have time to plan during the year. We have to be product driven and use every moment of our time to grade. During summer professional development, give yourself permission to be inefficient. Spend several weeks investigating a topic you are passionate about and interested in. Don’t worry if it only produces one 50-minute lesson.
2) Be a Hoarder—While this is not a culturally acceptable behavior from a Western perspective, in order to create great curriculum, you have to do this. Take a picture of everything you see and collect every brochure, pamphlet, book, and artifact you can find. Many times while traveling I do not fully understand the significance of an object until much later. I come back, reflect, and look through all my discoveries. Only then do I start to see how they might all connect. I go back to pictures and pull out new images as my curriculum changes or as I learn more about a culture.
3) Say “Yes”—Just like that awful Jim Carrey movie. When I’m traveling and collecting curriculum, I say yes to every experience, food, and opportunity. I am often tired, worn out, or uncertain of how something will go. I’ve crashed a wedding, pet a tarantula, and jumped off bridges. None of this was planned or on my itinerary. All of these unexpected experiences gave me insight into cultures different than my own and have come back to influence my curriculum in ways I couldn’t imagine.
4) Use your allies—I have several colleagues and administrators that I have developed relationships with that fully support my efforts. Early in my career, I often would not apply for opportunities because I was nervous about bothering people for recommendations. I was also worried what they would think of me (she thinks she is qualified to participate in THAT program?) I was also afraid of what my colleagues would think of me if I asked for a recommendation and did not get into a program. Over time, I have fully gotten over all of these insecurities! Now, I know, even if its last minute (ie can you write me recommendation in the next 24 hours?), I have a supportive group around me that I am never afraid to ask for help. I also bring them back really cool artifacts from wherever I go.
7- What is next for you?
I’m headed off on my biggest global adventure yet—I will be working and studying in the West Bank from January to March of 2015 as part of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant. I am interested “breaking the binary”—Palestinian identity is often presented in secondary curriculum and Western media as being made up of two choices (ex. One state vs. Two state, Fata vs. Hamas, Israeli vs. Palestinian). We all know in reality things are more grey than just being A or B. I am specifically interested in investigating how to use the graphic arts and graphic novels to do this. If any readers have contacts in the West Bank, please let me know!
8- If you could select three books, films, trips etc about global education for teachers what would they be?
We feel this project is ideal for the demands of the AP US History Course, IB History of Americas, the Common Core, and any US History course state standards. Teachers, curriculum specialists, scholars, and anyone interested in this topic are welcome to engage with this project.
We just want to repeat… this project is a 100% free professional development opportunity that utilizes social media, self-pacing, and professional collaboration.
The concept was part of my graduate work at Northeastern University during my MA in History in 2011. Subsequently. the project was funded by the generosity of the Longview Foundation and was created in partnership with the NCHE. A major inspiration for my thinking was the 2000 La Pierta Report. The report welcomed the 21st century with a challenge to US history educators everywhere. I encourage you to read the entire piece. I have placed some main vision excerpts below:
“National history remains important, and will of course continue to be so in the future. But the national history we are describing resituates the nation as one of many scales, foci, and themes of historical analysis. Our students and public audiences will gain a heightened sense of nation-making…
By looking beyond the official borders of the United States and back again, students, we anticipate, will better understand the emergence of the United States in the world and the significance of its direct power and presence. We expect them to understand the controversial power and presence of the United States as a symbol beyond our borders. We hope students will gain a historical comprehension of the difference between being a peripheral colony and a powerful nation, and they will be introduced to some of the large historical processes, not all contained within the nation, that might explain such a shift in the geography of global power…
We believe that there is a general societal need for such enlarged historical understanding of the United States. We hope that the history curriculum at all levels, not only in colleges and universities but also in the K-12 levels will address itself to these issues… It is essential that college and university departments–which carry the responsibility for training historians who will teach at the K-12 levels–begin this work of integration…
The United States history survey course is properly a focal point for the creation of an internationalized American history. If in the survey course one embraces the simple advice to follow the people, the money, the knowledges, and the things, one would quite easily–on the basis of pure empiricism–find oneself internationalizing the study of American history.”
Recent trends have called for the “globalizing” of American education through 21st Century teaching and learning and the Common Core State Standards. These educational demands coincide with efforts in the history profession to internationalize the United States history survey course. Combined, these two paradigm shifts have generated demand to construct and teach histories that are rigorous and relevant in preparation for college and career readiness. Globalizing history education, therefore, involves an “opening” of students’ conceptions of the past through expanded content, broader methodology, and units of analysis that go beyond the nation. Preparing history teachers to do this is integral to the longevity and success of global education. This project addresses gaps in thought leadership and the scarcity of professional development programs dedicated to globalizing the U.S. history survey.
At the core of this project are five modules participants engage with at their own pace. The predicted time to complete each module is 6 hours. The five project modules, listed below, span the 20th century
Each module has a similar structure and features. In addition to selected primary and secondary sources/media, five scholars created presentations unique to this project.
Gregg Brazinsky – George Washington University
Joseph R. Golowka – Binghamton University
Greg Adler – Eastside Union High School District
Eric D. Pullin – Carthage College
P. Masila Mutisya – North Carolina Central University
Also, Dr. Peter Stearns was generous enough to lend his support of the project. He notes “”A more global framework creates new perspectives, and some fresh challenges, making American history a livelier experience and, of course, linking it to other history courses in a less fragmented way. Ultimately, I would suggest, a global approach to American history lets us deal with three key, and difficult, questions – important ones, but tough ones as well.” See his full recording here.
In addition, each module had multiple teacher reviewers give feedback on the functionality,aesthetic, structure, clarity, utility, and resources of the modules. Their insight was invaluable.
A View of Professional Development for Educators
This style of PD challenges the utility of the large conference. These tend to be a one size fits all approach which ignores the personalization we celebrate in contemporary education with our students. Often, these presentations demand little to nothing form participants. Yet, you still get credit hours/points for just being there. This is hardly a 21st century approach for our profession.
This project celebrates teacher creativity, agency, leadership, and content expertise . It requires participants to generate resources and contribute content knowledge for the network to use. Upon completion of a module, participants will receive a PD certificate emailed from the NCHE to add to your professional file.
Spread the Word
Access to the project and the 5 PD modules is through Blackboard Coursesites a free LMS. It utilizes a self-enrolling policy, so sign right up.
Please spread the word by sharing the link below with your colleagues and network. Enjoy and we look forward to your insights and feedback!
Are teachers prepared to teach in an era of hyper-globalization? What professional development does your department, school, and district provide? What opportunities do you seek out to become informed about historical and contemporary globalization. I hope that your understanding of globalization comes from more than Tom Friedman and his claims about flatness.
For example, Donald Wright in his work The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A History of Globalization in Niumi, the Gambia reminds us of the importance of Immanuel Wallerstein’s “world system’s” theory when conceptualizing globalization:
Wallerstein’s theory can set the stage for global world views. But we need to get in the weeds a bit. To do that, read this piece on global wealth peaks and valleys, “The truth about extreme global inequality” and view the follow up video Global Wealth Inequality – What you never knew you never knew, from The Rules
And finally, watch this TED talk that directly challenges Friedman:
Pankaj Ghemawat: Actually, The World Isn’t Flat
Indeed, a globalized world is complex to understand, navigate, and predict. Functioning in these diverse contexts require teachers to be nimble and informed practitioners who can meet the needs of students, prepare them for the future, and gather and utilize information for a range of purposes in a variety of formations. Being globally savvy is indeed a demanding charge!
However, opportunities do exist. A dynamic new global education program,the Global Competency Certificate, is now being offered! “Developed by leading experts in global education – Teachers College, Columbia University, World Savvy, and Asia Society, the GCC program is designed specifically for in-service educators who are interested in embedding global learning into their teaching practice and preparing their students for the global reality beyond the classroom.”
Checkout her insights below, spread the word, and consider being part of a GCC cohort. Enjoy!
1) What is your background and current position at World Savvy? I have an international development background. After getting my Master’s in Law & Diplomacy (International Relations), I worked for several international non-profit organizations building conflict resolution and community development capacity in countries around the world. I have lived and/or worked in over 40 countries, including some time in Germany as a student and in Albania & Kosovo. Learning about the world and connecting with people across the world has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. At World Savvy, I head up Academic Affairs for the Global Competence Certificate program, the new online graduate level certificate for teachers in Global Competence Education. In this capacity, I am responsible for interacting with potential and current program participants—everything from recruiting to advising and supporting. It is really exciting to work with these educators, who are fulfilling a very important role in building global citizenship among their students.
2) How did you get involved with global education? During the time I was working overseas, I grew tired and frustrated of seeing the same problems over and over again. A feeling started to form in me that the only way we were ever going to make any meaningful change was if we grew the number of people who can understand the complexity of the world and work across the artificial barriers that divide us to find solutions. The best way to do this is to start young! So, I began to focus on global education as a way to build that critical mass of global citizens and leaders who we will need if we are going to address the huge challenges (and opportunities!) that face us.
3) What are the goals of the GCC program? The GCC program aims to build a pipeline of globally competent K-12 educators and school leaders who will have the capacity to effectively prepare young people to be globally informed, engaged citizens. Put another way, we are building the capacity within our educational system to facilitate the development of our young people as global citizens on a large scale.
4) How do you explain the program? What is your elevator pitch? The GCC fills a big gap in global competence professional development by providing an opportunity for educators to reflect in a very deep and sustained way on what global competence means for them personally and for their students. It does this through rigorous academic coursework, an immersive fieldwork opportunity, and a peer-supported capstone project. And, importantly, it utilizes innovative technology to enable learning and sharing among a far-flung group of global competence education leaders while demonstrating how technology can be used to build global community.
5) I believe starting with the Why is important. How would you answer “why do I need to be skilled in global competencies?” I appreciate the question, though I feel in this case it’s a little bit like asking why a fish needs to know how to swim! We are more connected to and impacted by the world than ever before. We regularly communicate with people from different cultures and countries both in our home communities as well as through the internet, media, and travel. We are affected daily by economic events, climate change, conflict, disease pandemics and other phenomena that don’t have any regard for national borders. To thrive in this world requires resilience, adaptability, openness, curiosity….global competence! There are opportunities as well—to eradicate poverty or invent the next paradigm-shifting technology. These achievements will be made by those who question prevailing assumptions, who form opinions based on exploration and evidence, who think critically and problem solve…global competencies!
6) Where have you seen global competencies in action in the classroom? There are already so many teacher-leaders who are doing this every day. At World Savvy, we work with an incredible group of educators across the country who challenge their students to think about global issues from multiple disciplines and perspectives and, importantly, push them to consider what they can do to address those issues. One of my favorite examples that I’ve seen recently is a middle school math teacher who weaves micro-finance (and the poverty, equality and sustainability issues microfinance helps address) into her math class.
8) How do departments, students, schools, communities benefit from a teacher who is globally competent? Teachers who are committed to developing their own global competence are invaluable assets in the classroom, the school, and the community at large. Through their demonstration and leadership, they are able to help the entire community—adults as well as kids—understand that global competence is a lifelong journey rather than a final destination. They are the experts and advocates that departments, schools and districts need to ensure that all kids are graduating with the preparation they need to thrive in college, career, and life.
9) What is the long view for this program? We have big plans for the GCC! We are developing a Leadership Track for the 2015-16 year that will address the particular needs of school and district leaders and administrators. We also plan to expand the GCC to include more international participation. We have already had interest from teachers in Africa, Asia, and Europe! We are working to build a truly global program where teachers from around the world will be able to collaboratively build global competence for themselves and their students. A little further down the road, watch for the GCC online Master’s degree program.
10) How did World Savvy come to partner with Columbia University’s Teachers College & Asia Society? The GCC is the culmination of a unique collaboration between the three founding organizations—Asia Society, Teachers College, and World Savvy. These three organizations have deep experience in global competence education as well as teacher preparation and professional development. We have worked together at every stage of the program—from conceptualization to program and course design—and will continue to cooperate closely as we roll out the first year of the program, evaluate the results, and feed that information back into the program’s continuous development and improvement. Also, we are currently collaborating on the design of the Leadership Track of the GCC.
11) What is your favorite “words of wisdom” or quote regarding global competency? Some years back, I kept a sticky note in my planner (pre- smart phone!) with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here.” At the time, I had no idea that this was supposedly the punch line to Vonnegut’s favorite dirty joke. But, that’s neither here nor there. For me, the quote inspired openness to new opportunities, comfort with ambiguity and unfamiliar situations, adaptability, and basically a life of exploring and investigating the world. Global competencies, one and all!
12) Anything else to add? Check out the Global Competence Certificate website at www.globalcompetencecertificate.org! We’ve got lots of great information about the program, instructors, courses and we’ll be adding more information about fieldwork sites and student experience as the GCC progresses. Join us!
Contemporary educational paradigms, impacted by concepts of and outcomes from globalization, have inspired schools to establish their vision of the “global” typically housed in schools’ and districts’ mission statements. Interpretations of global education vary in name, including, but not limited to qualifiers such as “citizenship”, “competency”, “awareness”, and “literacy.” Of course, regardless of the wording, how students are provided global educational experiences will be based on the commitment of the school community to the global turn. At the low end is unsupported lip service to globalization in schooling. On the flip side is a dedication to support integrated change within the system. This is no small feat consoderign that the structure is typically rigid and often restricted by expected outcomes which don’t complement the aspirations of global education.
Schools, however, are not destined to “go global” on their own. Multiple conferences and institutions promote ways of incorporating global perspectives in education. Explore the collection of instituions below to get an idea of how global education can be brought to your school and what avenues would be the best method of implementation.
World Savvy: In a world that is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before, the challenges and opportunities we face are becoming increasingly global in scope, and it is critical that our schools and educators teach for global competence, so all students can be prepared with the knowledge, skills and dispositions for success in the 21st century.
The Asia Society: The globalization of business, the advances in technology, and the acceleration of migration increasingly require the ability to work on a global scale. As a result of this new connectivity, our high school graduates will need to be far more knowledgeable about world regions and global issues, and able to communicate across cultures and languages
IIE: Peace and prosperity around the world depend on increasing the capacity of people to think and work on a global and intercultural basis. Take our quiz, see where you stand as a global citizen, and open your mind to the world.
Primary Source: Primary Source offers a rich variety of professional development programs for K-12 educators. With the aim of connecting teachers to people and cultures around the world, we provide learning opportunities in the content areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States.
P21: Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts.
IREX: The Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program provides a year-long 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.
The Content/Curriculum Option
One belief the organizations listed above have in common concerns the use of content and curriclum standards to implement global education trends. In History education, this often refers to the rethinking of the “nation” as the dominant unit of analysis or way to engage the past (a previous blog also addressed this idea).
For the example, in this the TED talk presented by Farleigh Dickinson professor Jason Scorza, the concept of the American Dream is internationalized, trans-nationalized, and even (wait for it) humanized. In essence, global perspectives on history content challenges that there is any such thing as a purely national event in the past. Instead, the past is full of networks and systems that are not magicall limited by the borders of the nation-state.
Dr. Scorza’s flexible context, and varying thematic and perspective lenses problematizes the concept of the American Dream. Also, did you note his two claims about how to define global education? Confronting the binary he establishes ultimately helps clarify an organization’s views and subsequent expectations for administrators, teachers, and students. However, it is his rendering of the past as a non-national place that ultimately provides a fruitful inroad to teaching the past from a global perspective.
Recently the College Board embraced this methodology in their revision of the heralded AP US History course. A new theme “US in the World” requires teachers to engage in historical renderings beyond the comfortable national narrative previously endorsed. Well done College Board. Here is what they say:
Learning Objectives by Theme: America in the World (WOR) In this theme, students should focus on the global context in which the United States originated and developed as well as the influence of the United States on world affairs. Students should examine how various world actors (such as people, states, organizations, and companies) have competed for the territory and resources of the North American continent, influencing the development of both American and world societies and economies. Students should also investigate how American foreign policies and military actions have affected the rest of the world as well as social issues within the United States itself.
Ok, that looks good. The teachers have been challenged. So where does that leave us? The good news is there are robust content options and resources, especially in the field of World Hisotry that can be used to globalize the US History Survey. The four I have listed below provide a raneg of resources, lesson, links etc that can be adapted and easily implemented to your US, Regional, and World History courses. Take a look at what they offer and enjoy!
The Global Campaign For Education, US Chapter: The Coalition promotes access to education as a basic human right and mobilizes the public to create political will in the U.S. and internationally to improve education for the world’s poorest children. They utilize this global competency matrix for their curriculum and resources, Lesson For All. The Lesson for All curriculum for high school has a series of 9 lessons for History/Geography, Economics, and Government/Civics. The resources provide relevant, problem based lessons which seek to develop students’ critical thinking and application of knowledge. Together they establish a forum to synthesize pedagogical best practices, instructional design, global perspectives, and social studies content. Overall, the modules seek to empower students by having them contextualize their educational realities, construct meaning about their learning experiences in the past and present, and envision a pathway for their future.
Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University is pleased to announce the release of Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators. The work provides educators with a set of interdisciplinary lesson materials featuring the geography and history of the Mediterranean in the context of world history from ancient times to the present. The Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean curriculum is free under Creative Commons License and available online. The resources are currently being piloted by teachers and received great feedback from World Historian Patrick Manning, Andrew Mellon Professor of World History at the University of Pittsburgh, found the project helpful to the world history teaching profession, writing:
“The modules and the process of preparing them are exemplary in gathering a wide range of educational materials on the Mediterranean over a long period of time, in world-historical context…It is a really rich collection of materials, showing the degree to which historical scholarship has advanced on many aspects of Mediterranean history, and giving teachers and students a feast of possibilities in linking the many types of information into a comprehensive picture of the unfolding of life in this region.“
The Alliance for Learning in World History: The Alliance is a collaboration of educators and history scholars organized to advance the teaching and learning of world history in classrooms—in the U.S. and in every part of the world. The Alliance is anchored at the University of Pittsburgh, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).In curriculum, the Alliance seeks to replace outdated existing courses – treating world history as a sequence of isolated civilizations – with curricula that address the global and interactive development of human society, relying on the latest historical research. In professional development, the Alliance encourages comprehensive programs for in-service teachers that bring them to a high level in working with historical thinking skills and in becoming familiar with world-historical content and debates. In educational research, the Alliance supports critical study of every
aspect of the learning process: student learning, learning by teachers, and teacher preparation.
Global Issues: Connecting content to the present is an effective way to make studying the past relevant and encourgaes students to construct meaning about what they study. This website presents numerous global issues, aiming to show how they are inter-related. The topics are common global ones; the environment, nuclear profliferation, poverty, human rights… In addition to the blogs unique articles, it provides a robust set of links and features news articles from arond the world.
Our reptilian part of our brain is about 300 million years old. It makes sure we feed and reproduce, and decides between fighting and running. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 get 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.
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.
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.
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, assessmenttools, student literacy support, and teacher professional development, aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
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 daunting. Well, 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.
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 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 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!
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. “HippoCampus.org 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.
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 History.com’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 against 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.”
Hall of Famer Eddie Cochran, and musicians after him covering his iconic rock and roll hit, claimed that there “Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues.” As we approach mid-August, that end-of-summer-break-sensation starts to creep into our minds as well as the realization that the annual return to the classroom is on the horizon.
This post offers a remedy of sorts for those summertime, back-to-school, blues. No, it isn’t a suggested career change or an extended excursion (this would be avoidance). Rather, the post is a dose of excitement, motivation, and awareness for your consideration and exploration. Inspiration comes from all sources and is all around us. Checkout this excerpt (including part of the poem Los Heraldos Negros (The Black Messengers) by Cesar Vallejos) featured in the film Girl Rising:
NARRATOR “In a lot of the world, school is free. Parents don’t just have to pay for school. They have to buy books and uniforms. Sometimes, they pay for exams and report cards. For millions of families, it is simply too much.
A girl born on planet today has a one and fourth chance of being born into poverty. And a very good school, that is where she will stay.
But the right education could change all that. Knowledge is power, just ask Senna.
There are blows in life, so powerful . . . I don’t know!
Blows as from God’s hatred; as if before them,
the backlash of everything suffered
were to dam up in the soul . . . I don’t know!
The first time I read that it took my breath away. The rhythm of it, the force. For me, it was unforgettable.”
What blows will come this school year? How will you and your students respond to them? How tuned in are you? How do you frame teaching, the profession, the experience? Can you explain your educational philosophy?
I suggest looking at these resources below and leave a comment in the morning. 😉 Enjoy!
Blogs (I focused on Social Studies/History Blogs)
History Tech:You’ll find all sorts of ideas, tools, and best practices in the social studies here at History Tech. So feel free to browse around, subscribe to the feed, or leave a comment.
World History Teachers Blog: This is a webpage written by high school teachers for those who teach world history and want to find online content as well as technology that you can use in the classroom. There are sister blogs about US History and US Government as well.
Not Another History Teacher: Melissa Seideman teaches 11th grade U.S. History, 12th grade Government/Economics, and AP Government and Politics in Cold Spring, NY. Her goal is for her blog to provide teachers with resources that can excite a student’s love of learning. Technology can meet student needs, engages them, and help them to be the best learner they can be.
The MiddleWeb: all about the middle grades with a sharp focus on teaching and learning in grades 4-8. Since 1996, we’ve been providing resources for teachers, school leaders, parents and others interested in the success of young adolescents. In 2012, they completely redesigned the website around four streams of original content.
World Religions Blog: This is a blog by high school teachers for those who teach World Religions and want to find online content and technology.
Mr. Martera Musings: World History & International Relations Teacher at University School of Milwaukee, Martera writes “Being creative and making things keeps me happy.”
Connected Educators:In collaboration with a wide range of educational organizations and educators, the Connected Educators project is increasing the quality, accessibility, and connectedness of existing and emerging online communities of practice.
The Institute of Education Sciences: provides rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and share this information broadly. By identifying what works, what doesn’t, and why, we aim to improve educational outcomes for all students, particularly those at risk of failure. We are the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, and by law our activities must be free of partisan political influence.
US Department of State Office of the Historian: The Office’s public outreach activities include hosting scholarly conferences on key issues in the history of U.S. foreign policy, answering historical research questions, consulting with scholars, educators, and students, and working with high school teachers across the country to provide high-quality materials for classroom use.
Teaching American History: The website redesign is indeed more attractive. Did you know they have a free online Saturday Webinar Series?
Geoffrey Canada: Our failing schools. Enough is enough! : Why, why, why does our education system look so similar to the way it did 50 years ago? Millions of students were failing then, as they are now — and it’s because we’re clinging to a business model that clearly doesn’t work. Education advocate Geoffrey Canada dares the system to look at the data, think about the customers and make systematic shifts in order to help greater numbers of kids excel.
Write your Teaching Philosophy: Your teaching philosophy is a reflection of your education and classroom experience, developed during college or graduate school, and in the classrooms where you have taught. Take time to write or revise your philosophy statement.
The Global Education First Initiative is led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. It gathers a broad spectrum of world leaders and advocates who all aspire to use the transformative power of education to build a better future for all.
The Initiative aims to raise the political profile of education, strengthen the global movement to achieve quality education and generate additional and sufficient funding through sustained advocacy efforts. Achieving gains in education will have an impact on all the Millennium Development Goals, from lower child and maternal mortality, to better health, higher income and more environmentally-friendly societies.
On an existential note, if none of these links act as cures for the summertime blues, you can always find another. Eddie Cochran couldn’t. He died in 1960 at 21 in a car accident in the UK while on tour. Tragic indeed. “Summertime Blues” was ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Cochran’s short life provides some perspective that I always found useful right around the start of the school year. So does this recent discovery; the children’s cook Zoom by Hungarian illustrator Istvan Banyai.
So, don’t forget to smile at the start of the school year. Who would you actually be impacting if you waited until winter break?
Best practices in education can be ephemeral or dismissed as old practices in new clothing (titles, jargon, rationale). However, I believe it is important to develop, and periodically reflect upon, one’s own educational philosophy and repertoire. To this end, I consider the values of student options and choice, content variety, skill development, and frequent student- teacher interaction to be valuable qualities in secondary social studies and history classrooms. To find the best instructional practice which synthesizes these educational aspects is not difficult. In fact, all we have to do is look in our past – to kindergarten.
Well, maybe not everything was learned, and certainly not just in kindergarten. The point is that the instructional practices on the “Buffet of Learning Experiences” menu (Station/Rotation and Learning Zones) are staples in elementary schools, common in middle schools and (unfortunately) endangered/extinct in high schools. The typical responses when asked about there absence in high schools have claimed teacher control issues, preparing students for college teaching, and lack of space. What’s more, when I see these approaches used in high school, the classes are marked by a dynamism and engagement which are indicative of great teaching and learning. Just take a look at what can be learned at a buffet!
The two models described below require an intentional and dedicated level of planning, flexibility, and knowledge of content. Moreover, teachers have to be willing to decenter themselves a bit. Total control and the idea that they are the center of all content knowledge is anti-thetical to these practices. Teachers are still “in control” of the class, but not the lecture, power point “you need to know this from me” control. Using Station/Rotation and Learning Zones elevates the role of the teacher to instructional designer, learning facilitator, and content resource. Lastly, it is important to note that these instructional practices should be done frequently and not treated as rare events or the alternative. Station/Rotation and Learning Zones builds a learning culture that celebrates student accountability, investigation, collaboration,. communication, creativity, and critical thinking (sound familiar?). These are all great things in education.
Eat up and come back for more!
This style of learning is so much fun. Students would enter our classroom and rarely would they see the same setup two days in a row. Chairs and desks were reconfigured for the class. Students became familiar with the settings and help me transform our room from a Pink Floyd dystopian nightmare…
…to an active learning environment.
Checkout the two models below. What would you change? How many stations would you have? How big are the groups?
A major question asks “what to do at each station?” Below is a suggested list with short descriptions for each:
Textbook Use Area – Students read, review or engage with sections of the textbook.
Writing/Editing Area- Students write, self -edit, peer edit, practice a writing skill.
Computer Area – Especially good if you have limited computers. Explore a website, research etc.
Primary Source Area- Analyze, discuss, do a DBQ, create a DBQ,
Visual Area- Focus on cartoons, maps, infographics, charts etc
Media Area- Listen to a podcast, Ted Video, PPT etc
Discussion Area- a mini deliberation about a topic. Students summarize main points
Teacher Feedback Area- Feedback on projects, grades, National History Day work etc.
Teacher Instruction Area- A mini-lecture or clarification of unit, chapter content
Student Reflection Area- Metacognition exercises, Apply to the present, what did I learn comments
Question Generating Area- Students come up with inquiries and practice how to dissect an issue with questions
Other –Sky is the limit… have fun inventing some
Needless to say, keep in mind that directions at each area should be clear and doable in the time allotted. Teacher’s need not have their own station and can be on call as needed. Lastly, be sure to identify the outcome of each station – this is the accountability part!
This approach turns your class into a learning lab. Like above, each zone’s experiences need to be clearly described. The main difference is that their is no set rotation. Students move freely. This can cause congestion. But you can create a max time in a zone or a capacity number. You can also say that students need to visit 4 of the 5 zones giving them an option. I suggest trying this for a week or two straight or for a full unit morphing your classroom into …
For more information on the Zone approach checkout: Bray and McClaskey “Six Steps to Personalize Learning” Learning and Leading. ISTE. May 2013 Issue. Their website is located here.
Consider reconfiguring the zones in the model above as activity stations from the list above and you have created a whole new buffet menu!
What is your classroom like? Is it inspiring? Welcoming? Do you display student work and opportunities? Does it show expectations and goals?
These three articles below discuss the claim: “The layout of your classroom can have a serious impact on the way you teach and the way your students learn.”
Avoid unnecessary congestion in high-traffic areas.
Consider potential distractions: windows, doors, etc.
Always have a clear view of students.
Verify that all students can see you, instructional displays (e.g., chalkboard) and daily assignments (weekly, if possible). Use walls and bulletin boards to display rules, procedures, assigned duties, a calendar, schedule, student work and extra-credit activities.
Place learning areas so students can move from one to another with little or no disruption. Leave walking space around students’ desks.
Avoid placing learning centers and work areas in “blind corners.”
Place storage space and necessary materials so they are easily accessible.
Arrange students’ desks in rows facing instructional areas until you’ve learned their names, work habits and personal traits.
Check all electrical equipment to be sure it works and learn how to use the equipment before using it in class.
Things to Consider
1. Where will your desk be?
2. How many student classroom desks do you need?
3. What classroom seating arrangement of the desks will you use; for example, groups,rows, U shapes, rows but in groups,etc?
4. Will you have any classroom computers? Where will you put the classroom computer tables?
5. Will you have a carpeted area, away from the students’ desks, where you can all come together for classroom meetings,etc.?
6. What other additional classroom furniture such as filing cabinets, bookshelves,working tables will there be?
7. How many classroom bulletin boards will you have?
8. What other classroom display ideas are swimming around in your head?
Tools that let you design your classroom (These are really fun)
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 collective 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!
Carol Dweck – Mind Set : Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success—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.
2. Daniel Goleman – Emotional 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 enable 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 Schlectly – Engagement Theory: Schlectly focuses attention on student motivation and the strategies needed to increase the prospect 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 Freire – Critical 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 additional 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 Siemens – Connectivism: At 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 Vykotsky – Social 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 Marx – 16 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 culture
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 Anderson (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.