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Robert Shaffer, Ph.D., Professor of History, Shippensburg University, and co-coordinator, secondary social studies education President Trump’s widely quoted remarks at a January 11, 2018 White House meeting with Congressional leaders, in which he railed against further immigration from “s-hole” countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations, pose challenges to social studies educators. The vulgar terminology itself, if used in many schools, would land a student in the principal’s office and subject to discipline.  The Student Handbook in the Mechanicsburg (PA) Area School District, for example, where my own children went to school, states that students ...
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What do this mid-20 th century recipe clipping scrapbook and Pinterest have in common? The obvious answer is recipe collections; recipes prepared and recipes to try. These scrapbook pages, one digital and one paper, are also primary source documents that tell the story an individual and a wider culture. A scrapbook, today and in the past, is personal story created from re-purposed media (electronic or paper) and ephemera of the era. Scrapbooking as a hobby is not new. In the 1820s, as the mass media grew (magazines and newspapers), men, women, and children made clipping scrapbooks.  They used scissors to cut information related to their interests and pasted ...
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We often think there’s one way to organize our units and it goes something like this: Introduce a study guide of terms, list out some goals and objectives, add in some unit-specific questions and then give a picture of what the summative assessment may look like, usually coming in the form of either a multiple choice test, essay or both. At the end of the unit, we start over.  Sound familiar?   Think about it, though. When we do this, we are sending a subtle message that learning begins and ends with self-contained units and that knowledge builds in sequential steps along a predictable path which ends. Our intuition tells a different story:  learning ...
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Relations between the U.S. and Cuba are rocky lately due to the mysterious “sonic wave” attacks on U.S. diplomats stationed in there during 2016-17, the cause for which is still undetermined. This reminded me of a time when I had students meet with a Cuban diplomat. Our visit was on December 10, 2003.  Photos from the trip are here:  http://dgraney.com/03cuba1.htm Almost 15 years ago, while scrolling through the list of nations on the embassy.org, site I came across Cuba. How can that be? We don’t have diplomatic relations with Cuba, so how could they have an embassy in the United States? I clicked on the link and saw “Cuban Interests Section,” ...
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I’m one of the “digital immigrants” who came to the use of computers late in life, that is, as a New Jersey high school history teacher back in the digital “dark ages” of the 1980s. Perhaps you remember the Apple IIE? The first Apple Macintosh?   Oregon Trail software? During these long-ago years, a fellow history teacher (Neale McGoldrick) and I collaborated on using “desk-top publishing” software to produce historical newspapers with our students and created an historical monograph on women's suffrage that was distributed to schools and libraries in the state ( Reclaiming Lost Ground: The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage in New Jersey , New Jersey Historical ...
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Food is a hot topic in modern America and can be used as a theme in the social studies classroom to illustrate many historical trends and indisciplinary concepts. A traditional holiday treat – the mincemeat pie – is just one example. First, take a short quiz to test your knowledge of mincemeat.  Quiz: What is in a Mincemeat Pie? Mincemeat pies are associated with the winter holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Traditionally, the filling was made of chopped meat and animal fat, dried fruit, spices, sweetening (honey, molasses, or sugar), and alcohol, often brandy. Mincemeat was prepared and preserved in the late autumn or early winter when animals were ...
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My Political Science class and my Philosophy class met a man who I consider to be “The Greatest Living American.” Congressman John Lewis is one of the giants of the Civil Rights era. Early on, he participated in sit-ins in Nashville and then became leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. It was in that capacity that he gave a hard-hitting speech at the March on Washington. His biggest achievement was bringing black people the right to vote in the South. He marched for voting rights and, of course, was the leader when state troopers attacked him and other marchers in Selma, Alabama—on Bloody Sunday. Since then he has had a distinguished ...
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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, Japan, ...
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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 hours). ...
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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 meet me ...
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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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