“The Roles of Memorization in Teaching and Learning,” Education Week Teacher

As a social studies teacher, I am forever tormented by this question. If we spend a day unpacking the Emancipation Proclamation—worthwhile in so many ways, not least to appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s legal and linguistic brilliance—how many details of the Battle of Antietam, of Gettysburg, of the New York City draft riots go undiscussed? Pretty much every day’s lesson plan offers a similarly wrenching example… Continue reading

“Teaching U.S. History Through a Trauma Lens,” MiddleWeb

In our first conversation, “Teaching U.S. History in Turbulent Times,” we left off by discussing which primary sources are most effective for conveying empathy and gravitas in history lessons. This leads into another topic that has gripped me lately: how to sufficiently teach about systemic racism and oppression without making this lens the only way students see history. When I co-taught Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give with my partner English teacher… Continue reading

“A Reformers Unit That Celebrates Activism,” MiddleWeb

My absolute favorite unit, a “reformer from our history” research paper and campaign, is the only one I’ve done every spring through seven years of teaching U.S. history to eighth graders. It focuses on resilience, activism, determination. It celebrates rather than eulogizes. Through their research, students see themselves in history… Continue reading

“Teaching U.S. History in Turbulent Times,” MiddleWeb

The protests that have been occurring across the country since the killing of George Floyd have led us once again to ask how best to teach U.S. history. These are issues that we have wrestled with throughout most of our careers, but recent events bring them to the forefront. A traditional blog post – with just one voice – is challenging to write at the moment because it presumes that we have answers. We don’t. Instead, we decided to get together and… Continue reading

“The Social Studies Teacher’s Toolbox,” by Elisabeth Johnson and Evelyn Ramos, MiddleWeb

It’s a little strange for me to say this, having written two books of my own about history pedagogy. But if you’re going to buy only one book about teaching social studies, The Social Studies Teacher’s Toolbox should be it. Elisabeth Johnson and Evelyn Ramos Lamarr, experienced teachers at the same Sacramento high school, have constructed a research-based, honest, human guide to helping our students in grades 6-12 understand, remember and care about what they learn. As the authors write… Continue reading