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Real or ideal? Historians and students must ask this question when examining primary source images and texts depicting daily life. Many primary sources texts and images are nostalgic, skewing our views of the past. Nostalgia is a sentimental longing for the past. We’ve all heard nostalgic references to the halcyon days when people didn’t need to lock the doors of their homes, neighbors always helped neighbors, men were brave and chivalrous, women virtuous, and students always did their homework and behaved. In every historical era, references are made to previous golden age. But was a previous era really that good? Did everyone live in this perfect world?  ...
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“This is me. This is where I live.” This book review is the second in a series of reviews of exemplar children’s books for teaching social studies. Building on the first featured book in this series of reviews, Mirror , by Jeannie Baker, I have selected a second title which features cultural universals as well as global families and basic concepts of geography. This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids Around the World  by Matt Lamothe  is a nonfiction picture book released in 2017. In this book, Lamothe uses simple prose and vivid illustrations to guide young readers through the stories of seven children from Italy, ...
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There was one more very cool event from my Connecticut days. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was making his first visit to Washington, D.C. in December  of 1987. There was a large Jewish minority of students at Amity High (where I was teaching one section of U.S. History) and Amity Junior High. They told me there was going to be a march and rally to protest Soviet Jews not being allowed to immigrate to Israel, and asked if I wanted to join them. I had never been to D.C. before, and it was a good cause, a chance to bond outside the classroom with students…heck yeah! I told my friend Steve Goldman about it and he was in too. With junior high and high school students, ...
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Do you make connections to local history, economics, geography, and culture in your classroom? Here are 5 excellent resources for primary source images and texts that can help you make that connection. 5. Sanborn Maps Sanborn maps were created to assess fire insurance liability in towns and cities in the United States from 1867 to 2007. These maps provided detailed information about business, streets, homes, and communities. With a little searching, you can find Sanborn maps for your town. Check the Library of Congress collection or your local historical society. 4. New Deal Guidebooks for Tourists Learn more about your state in the 1930s and early 1940s ...
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When I first wrote the title of this column, it included the following words: “And Why All Social Studies Professionals Must Teach about and Encourage Our Students to Resist It and Believe in and Work for a Nation Where Everyone Is ‘Created Equal’ and Has ‘Unalienable Rights’ Including ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’” Obviously, that was too long; but I wanted to say it loud and clear. Please re-read the two parts of the title together to yourself before moving on. I was born in 1939, was a child during World War II, a teenager in the Nifty Fifties, finished college and taught and coached in high school in the Tumultuous 70s, had a great career ...
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This summer my husband and I had a couple of long road trips. Although it’s lovely having more time for extended conversations, when we’re in the car for hours we also like to listen to books-on-tape, which can help distract us from the frustration stemming from the inevitable traffic jams arising from having so many people traveling when all the road repair work is going on.   Over the years, we’ve especially enjoyed listening to books by John McPhee and Jared Diamond—significant works of considerable scope in time and place—that lend themselves to this kind of listening experience. This summer we opted to read “Behave” by Robert M. Sapolsky (over 26 ...
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There is learning. And there is learning. Early in my career I saw the value of not just learning in the classroom, but having students go out in the community and having the community come into my classroom. From the very first field trip (to Boston in 1987) to the ones I have planned this year and the many guest speakers I have hosted, I have seen how changing the learning environment can greatly enhance the learning experience. Students become more excited, motivated, and open to new ideas while out in the community or when visited in their classroom. It is something different, and because of that the interest level is higher. Experiential learning also ...
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“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” --Anais Nin This book review is the first in a series of reviews of exemplary children’s books for teaching social studies. For this inaugural blog, I decided to feature my favorite children’s book, Mirror by Jeannie Baker.  Mirror  is wordless picture book illustrating the daily lives of two children across the Earth from one another: a child in Valley of Rose, a rural region of Morocco, and one in a suburban region of Sydney, Australia.  In this blog post, I am going to focus primarily on the opportunities for using Mirror to examine cultural universals and the elements of mutuality ...
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Margaret Smith Crocco www.margaretcrocco.com   That's me at AACTE a couple of years ago. It seems an appropriate photo for a "talking head." Hi, readers! I do hope you’re out there and that things are fine with you as you read this.  First, let me introduce myself. Then, I’ll share my plan for the blog.  I’m a “seasoned” teacher educator who has worked in three colleges of education. I am professor emeritus at Teachers College, Columbia University, and am in my fifth year at Michigan State University, where I chair the Department of Teacher Education. I’ve also worked at the University of Iowa, and have taught American History ...
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Compelling questions, as described in the C3 Framework , focus on issues and concerns of humans through time. Because they don’t have just one “correct” answer, but many different interpretations, they help students perceive the work of historians -- “doing” history. Compelling questions combine the interests of students, the content of a discipline, and the literacy and inquiry skills needed in that discipline. Compelling questions are very similar to Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins’ essential questions. Both can be serve as conceptual frameworks for learning big concepts and discrete facts over multiple units or across disciplines. I love compelling ...
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This summer, I facilitated 25 days of professional development to support Illinois’ renewed commitment to the “civic mission of schools”. With the backing of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation Democracy Program lead by Dr. Shawn Healy, Illinois has adopted new Social Studies standards and a civic education requirement for graduation.  After organizing and implementing double digit workshops with the help of 35 regional mentors , mid August brought time for much needed rest for both me AND my car.  My tires needed a realignment and so did I!  When I checked my car in for its service appointment, I was reminded why this work is vital ...
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I had the following thoughts when I started my first year overseas. As I write, I'll be reflecting on living in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates over the past two years. It is important to read these blogs as a personal viewpoint of one person moving to a different nation and moving out of their comfort zone into a different place in the world. I look forward to reading your comments about my blogs. Well, after the plane ride, I landed at the Lahore International Airport with all of my baggage!  Yes, I made it with all the pieces of luggage. When I finally got through customs and moved to get my baggage, the high school coordinator was there to ...
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By spring my U.S. history kids were learning about World War II, including the Holocaust. I visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C. and acquired one-page bios of some victims of the Nazis. Some survived, some did not. Lesson idea- I passed out a different bio for each student. I told them "We're going to try something a little different. After you read your bio put head on your desk and close your eyes.” I arranged it so two-thirds of the kids had a bio of someone who died and one-third did not. When I saw that all students had their heads on their desks I said, “If the person you read about lived, keep your eyes closed and heads on your desks. If the person you ...
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Social history themes across time are difficult to squeeze into teaching units defined by specific beginning and ending dates. Instead social history often focuses on patterns that develop over decades, or even centuries.  Social history themes, such manners or etiquette, must be examined across the traditional instructional units that are usually centered around political history. For example, nineteenth century codes of polite behavior were different than today. When did manners change? Pinpointing an exact date on a timeline is difficult. Changes in daily behavior occur quickly in some places, slowly in others, and new customs are adopted at different ...
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Surfing the Net The 100 th Anniversary of the U.S. Entering World War I One hundred years ago on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany, and a major European war became World War I.  The war had begun on July 28, 1914, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Many historians contend that the war could have been avoided, but others argue that economic competition among European countries and their colonies in Africa and Asia made a war inevitable.    What wasn’t inevitable was the entry of the United States into the war, making it a true world war. While troops from the colonies of Great Britain, ...
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References to lenses as unique ways of seeing the world are increasingly common, especially in pedagogical texts that describe culturally responsive teaching.  Incorporating social history themes in the classroom is an excellent way to introduce new ways of seeing the world through three sets of culturally responses lenses, or glasses. The first pair of glasses refer to how students originally see the world through their own cultural framework. This framework is formed by students’ experiences within their own family, culture, and community. The second set of glasses help students “see” similarities and differences between their own experiences and those of ...
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After changing majors at Buffalo State to Social Studies Education, I enrolled in history/social studies courses that were very helpful to my future teaching, and education courses that were less so. Student teaching began at the start of my last semester. I was scheduled to begin at West Hertel Academy, a middle school in Buffalo. But “The Blizzard of ’85” postponed my start for a week. To keep people off the streets, Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin advised residents to, “Go home, buy a six pack of beer, and watch a good football game.” My buddies and I took that sincere advice to heart...especially the beer part. A week later it was time to start. It was a two-mile ...
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I am Douglas Graney, social studies teacher at Herndon High School, Herndon, Va.  In late November, 1985, I was interviewed by a young principal who seemed like a cool guy and a verging-on-elderly woman who was the social studies department chair. I was talking with the principal and the rapport was fine, we were connecting, the interview was going well. You know when you’re killing it, and I was. I had been asked to bring a sample lesson plan, and while I was talking to the principal I saw the old gal looking it over. Every few seconds she would shake her head sadly and roll her eyes. Well I’m going to have to win her over, I thought. The principal said to ...
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      I love history, but that love affair began outside the classroom. In elementary school, it wasn’t my social studies or history classes or a favorite teacher that first made me history fan – it was historical novels. By middle school, my history classes were okay, but we studied the usual, and often dull, political narratives. I didn’t really understand—or care—what a bunch of men did to govern societies distant in place and time. The historical people and events in those history classes were like numbers in the math book—mostly flat, colorless, and dull.      Historical novels made history come alive for me. In middle school, I worked as a student volunteer ...
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America’s War for the Greater Middle East:  A Military History, by Andrew Bacevich. New York:  Random House, 2016.  453 pages.  $18.00 paper.   Social Studies teachers who are committed to refining their understanding of contemporary American foreign policy will profit from reading Andrew Bacevich’s recent book America’s War for the Greater Middle East .  Over the last decade Bacevich, now Professor Emeritus at Boston University, has emerged as one of the most prominent and compelling critics of American foreign policy.  In a spate of articles and a handful of spirited books, Bacevich has attempted to warn the American public of the ruinous consequences ...
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