TCI Curriculum: Social Studies Programs

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Through some of my coursework here at Luther, I was turned on to a great online resource from the Teachers’ Curriculum Institute called “History Alive!.” As I considered the implications on the classroom brought about by a program like this, I wanted to simply discuss the idea of shared curriculum, online resources, and adapting this work to fit your own classroom. Were I on a curriculum team, I would certainly encourage the use of shared resources like “History Alive!” because of the sheer wealth of information out there! The specific unit I looked at, on U.S. History: Beginnings through Industrialism, outlined games, classroom activities, assigned reading, and provided teacher resources that included “editable” presentations and SMARTboard activities! The interface looked something like this:

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A program like this goes above and beyond what we, as teachers, could create with a few “preps.” This is why learning to borrow, cite, utilize, and collaborate with others’ work is so imperative in the field of education. This site is a great place to start.

Lest I stray from my “gut,” though, I must clarify. As an inspired future educator, and someone even looking toward administration, I love nothing more than authentic, creative, immersive, experiential, and original material generated by teachers for their own uses. Some of the best teachers that I have learned from in MY time as a student are those that take a text and simply create. These are the types of teachers I would love to hire and the type of teacher I want to be. That being said, it’s often unrealistic to think that this can be done for multiple subjects, every day, for the entirety of a school year. This is why we need to search for phenomenal resources that can create equally meaningful learning experiences, and why, as a fictional curriculum director, I would recommend “History Alive!” in my district.

I would really encourage you to click below and take the free 30 day trial in the “program” that most closely relates to your content area…explore, edit, create, utilize, and share. If nothing else, maybe this can “spark” some of that ever-so-meaningful creation of your own! How can you make history come alive for your students?

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Politics and Education

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“What role do teachers play in the political process legislating change in education?” I was posed with this question last week and it really stimulated my thinking regarding why we, as educators, often times aren’t. To put it plainly, and rather bluntly, most educators I speak with seem plenty content to sit in the lounge, drink their coffee, and complain about legislation, but wouldn’t so much as think about speaking out or involving themselves in the legislative process. THIS IS NOT WRONG, and I’m not accusing these teachers in any way, shape, or form…some of the best teachers I know are so effective because they keep their nose out of the politics of education. Yet, in my opinion, we’re foolish to not have professional educators directing and guiding the creation of legislation and the political process on issues directly applied to education.

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The medical field, the economic sector, and the government itself are all great examples of venues in which those with the highest degrees and the greatest experience guide the process of rule-making and political framework for their system. What I have very little tolerance for is the “casual bystander” who is not only not involved or voiced in the matter, but frankly couldn’t care less. As a good friend, and colleague of mine, often says Indifference is not an option in my classroom.” To cut to the chase, I want to be clear: I’m not asking educators to drop their chalk and rush to Washington…we don’t need that. I am asking educators to have an opinion. Be well-read and well-voiced on current topics and the politics of education, voice these opinions to representatives, and if the issue is something that strikes a particularly strong passion in you, get involved! There is no shame in being a great teacher and focusing on that instead of politics, in fact on most days it’s probably better, but to not care or to be passionate about something and sit idly, coffee in hand, won’t cut it. Be an active participant in the world of education and advocate positive changes that benefit children in addition to teachers.