Teaching Social Studies = Using the News (Part 1)

Over the next two blogs, I want to explore issues and ideas around using “the news” in the social studies classroom. Using current events has been a staple for many teachers, but it has taken on more importance and perhaps more risk in recent months as the clamor over fake news and the role of journalism in a democracy gets more strident. Over the next two blogs, I will present two “guests” who address the issues that are important to teachers. What problems does the news create for students and what can teachers do about it?

The first blog is from C3 Teachers, home of the Inquiry Design Model, and addresses the problems that using the news creates for our students.

What Should We Do About Fake News?
Written by Chloe Ford on March 5th, 2017

In our instant gratification, social media run world, fake news has become an epidemic plaguing the nation and our classrooms. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Using Two Lenses

In December, I held my final class as an instructor of AED 310 Writing in Social Studies at SUNY Cortland. I have been teaching this class for preservice teachers (and anyone else who needed a writing intensive class) for 3 years, but it was time to hang up my PowerPoint slides and concentrate on the other two jobs that I have in retirement! It was a great learning experience for me and, I hope, for the students!

Every semester, I used the idea of looking at the strategies and processes that we used during class with two lenses. Since some my students were not in the teaching program, I needed a way to make the materials as relevant as I could for everyone. How could students majoring in Athletic Training, Exercise Science and Biology see the content as applicable to them? Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Getting to the Source(s)

In the last couple of weeks, I have had several occasions to work with social studies teachers from around Central New York as well as working with pre-service teachers in my class at SUNY Cortland. I have found an ongoing theme in many of these encounters: Teachers want to teach social studies in ways that engage students and give them opportunities to interact with history in authentic ways by using primary sources. It is what is the basis for the Social Studies Practices in the NYS K-12 Framework and is certainly at the heart of the C3 Framework and the Inquiry Arc. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Opportunity and Challenge

It always seems that just when I think I have it all figured out, I don’t! The social studies scene in New York State has shifted a bit since June and we are still figuring out what that might mean to schools and districts. If you are not aware, the New York State Board of Regents voted in June to revise the timeline for the new design and of the Global History and Geography Regents and the U.S. History Regents. The memo from SED on the changes can be found here. There will be a more extended period of transition from the current Regents design to the new format, with the new format being fully implemented in June of 2021. So what does this mean? Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = A Balancing Act

I am recycling again! I first posted this blog last October, but as I am preparing for a week of social studies professional development, I find that the ideas are a constant theme when we are working with the Social Studies Framework. Let the balancing act begin!

I have been doing far too much thinking this week, and by Jove it’s got to stop! I have been working on a presentation for the CNY Council for the Social Studies Fall Conference and it has led me to cogitate on the idea of the balance of content and skill that is at the heart of the NYS Social Studies Framework Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies: The Time Is Now

Teaching social studies is often about bringing the past to life for our students. But, for a moment, let’s think about current events and how we might use what is going on right now to help students learn about the past. One of the issues when teaching social studies to young people is how to help them see the relevance of the content. What does history of (mostly) dead people have to do with our students? How can the present inform us and our students about the past? How can we help them see the connectedness of now and then? After all, “today’s news is tomorrow’s history” (Passanisi 2016). And what we see as history was current events to the inhabitants of the past. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies: Facts ≠ History

I am recycling my very first blog (with some revisions) from October of 2012 as I find the ideas are still relevant as we consider the continuing changes in the teaching and learning of social studies in New York State. In two years we will see the new Regents in Global History. This year’s eight graders will be the first to take the new test. Their learning and the learning of all students must be substantively different, not only for the test, but to meet the increasing demands on citizens in the 21st century.

My 7th grade Social Studies teacher was the estimable Mr. Weckel. Mr. Weckel’s job was to teach American History to a group of less-than-motivated 12 and 13 year olds, but his mission was to make his passion for history come alive in our minds and hearts. He yelled, sang, told stupid jokes, wore costumes, ranted, and put on one-man skits. He intimidated us, entertained us, scared us one minute and made us laugh the next. He was also the advisor of the High School History club, of which I was President for two years, in large part to help plan and participate in the club’s trips to Boston and Philadelphia. I remember Mr. Weckel, walking the Freedom Trail through the streets of Boston with a scruffy group of high school students, carrying a rather large American flag and singing I’m a Yankee Doddle Dandy at the top of his lungs! Continue reading