This week is loosely constructed around essential Social Studies skills like practicing inquiry, analyzing primary sources and visuals, reading effectively, and bringing it all together to write a reasonable argumentative thesis. (We might go really crazy and outline a basic essay if the spirit so moves.) Our focus will be on practical, usable classroom-ready ideas, both those aimed at effective content crunching and those designed to help shift the responsibility for learning back into the students’ hands. We’ll attempt to balance discussions of pedagogy and Pre-AP philosophy with a scattershot of actual activities, with more ‘doing’ than mere listening on the part of participants. While the strategies are intended to be useful in any social studies class, we’ll look at a few ‘big picture’ themes in American History that can help make the rest of what we want our little darlings to learn a bit ‘stickier’ (so that while what we care about most is their long-term academic, professional, and personal success, maybe they’ll also remember enough content to pass a state test or two and not embarrass us with next year’s history teachers). In short, we’ll try to do lots of usable stuff while collaborating over pretty much anything we can try to unlock the signs of life and smartness our little darlings work so hard to bury and deny.
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