Some worthy (but maybe not beach-worthy) summer read suggestions for teachers of social studies

Looking for something to fill all the time you have left over after fixing up the yard and resealing the deck? Here are some summer read suggestions for teachers of social studies:

  • The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework. It’s available online for free.
    The state has adopted this as an “instructional framework”  for social studies that is informing the revision of the state SS standards. It’s definitely not a “beach read” but it is free and informative. It’s focus is on the inquiry arc of learning.


  • For teachers of US History who feel the need to brush up on content knowledge, Don’t Know Much About American History by Kenneth Davis is pretty good (and a light and entertaining read more appropriate for the beach but still probably less so than a Dan Brown novel.


  • Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts by Sam Wineburg or Why Don’t You Just Tell Me the Answer: Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12 by Bruce Lesh skew to teachers of older students (which I know is obvious by the subtitle of the second one) but I think they could still be relevant to intermediate teachers who want to explore the important skills beneath the learning of historical content.


  • Lastly, here are three books that are very relevant to teaching social studies but are not written with social studies specifically in mind so if you have teachers who don’t want to commit summer reading time to something that is exclusive to the content of social studies, try these:
    • Dive Into Inquiry: Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice by Trevor Mackenzie
    • Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana
    • 17,000 Classrooms Can’t Be Wrong: Strategies That Engage Students, Promote Active Learning, and Boost Achievement


Fake Fake News

Earlier this month I offered some resources that teachers could use to help fight fake news (see below for the original post). I realized recently that it may (unfortunately) be necessary to define exactly what “fake news” means since it can readily be seen and heard in at least two very different contexts.

The first way to interpret “fake news” is the way I intended it to be interpreted in my post. Let’s call this “real fake news” (I know that is a bit awkward). This would be something published (in print, on-line, on TV, etc.) that is created purposefully to mislead. An example of this kind of “fake news” you may have heard about in the real real news (confused yet?) about Macedonian teens who made lots of money by fabricating fake news designed to get clicks (clicks can equal $$ on the internet).

Adding to the confusion is the President who had done his best to redefine the term fake news by using it to describe legitimate media outlets who happen to report something unflattering to his administration such as this tweet from April 25:

“Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.” 

Politics aside, this re-branding of this term very likely has created even more confusion for young people trying to figure out their world (and trying to figure out who to trust).


Here is the original post with resources for addressing fake news:

Fighting Fake News? Try these Online Resources

One of the key pieces of life-long learning that teachers can instill is the ability to question and evaluate information. For help teaching students about how to fight fake news, check out these free online resources:

Fighting Fake News? Try these Online Resources

One of the key pieces of life-long learning that teachers can instill is the ability to question and evaluate information. For help teaching students about how to fight fake news, check out these free online resources:

How PBL can enhance global-education goals

Here is an interesting article about how PBL (project/problem-based learning) can be implemented to help create global citizens. It includes a discussion (and a handy table) that shows how the Buck Institute’s elements of “Gold Standard PBL” relate to the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework which Washington (and several other states) have adopted as an instructional framework for social studies education.

The New Newsela

Image result for newselaTeachers across the nation have been aware of Newsela as a solid resource for leveled texts (texts at different reading levels with the same basic content) about current events for years. This is great for teachers looking for contemporary content but not so helpful for teachers of history. If you are a teacher of history, it’s time to give Newsela another look.

Over the last several months (maybe a year) Newsela has added content of interest to teachers of history such as leveled primary sources, text sets built around themes, biographies, famous speeches, and more. While the library of historical resources is not very deep yet, it is growing and includes resources aligned to world history and U.S. history content as well as  geography and government and economics.

Newsela offers access to their content with a free registration. They also over a premium version called Newsela Pro which adds some features.

Four Sites to Fight Fake News

A few months ago had a teachable moment with someone after one of the too many mass shootings of last year. So as not to potentially embarrass anyone, let’s call him ‘Dad’. Our conversation went something like this:

Dad: You wouldn’t believe what Diane Feinstein said about gun control.

Me: Well, what did she say?

Dad: She said that when a gunman, “realizes that nobody else is armed, he will lay down his weapons and turn himself in.”

Me: You are correct. I don’t believe it. Where did you hear that?

Dad: It was on the Internet.

Me: Where on the Internet? It’s a pretty big place.

Dad: On Facebook.

Me: When you see something on Facebook (or anywhere else) and your reaction is that it is unbelievable, it might be because it is unbelievable. Perhaps do a little fact checking.

Dad: Fact-what-ting?

Okay. Full-disclosure, ‘Dad’ didn’t really say the last line but it certainly was something that did not immediately occur to him upon reading something that to him seemed outrageous.

In about two minutes (with the help of I found the source of this quote. It is indeed something that Diane Feinstein is quoted as saying but it is a fictional Diane Feinstein a satirical article written by “Ace Cub Reporter Jimmy Olsentwins” (possibly a red flag there).

I wish I had read this article called 4 Sites to Fight Fake News (spoiler-alert: Snopes is one of them) before that conversation with my dad but I am pretty sure I will have the opportunity again. Alas, it’s hard to teach an old dad new tricks….

Free Online 3D Globes

Population DensityEnergy ConsumptionPolitical


Classroom globes can be helpful in the classroom but they don’t last forever, become outdated, and they are expensive to replace. Try this free online globe. It offers several themes that a physical globe just can’t (population density, energy consumption, climate, etc.) and it does not require a download so you can use it immediately.