Woo Hoo! We are out of the Box!

Sunday night's chat brought together some great ideas from across the state.  When I was asked to do this blog post, I had no idea what I was going to talk about. Suggestions were that I could discuss my views on CCSS or just talk about some resources.  Man, someone giving me an open call to discuss what I think about CCSS?!  That could take a while!  I won't do that to you though.

I love that our most recent #OklaEd chat (Common Core Crowd Source) focused on the benefits of the new standards.  We all know that there are issues, but since a) nothing is perfect and b) we have to teach regardless of any imperfections, conversations like this are necessary.  If you want to see some of the benefits, check out the archive linked above for tweets marked A2.  

Personally, I don't mind the CCSS.  They just tell me what to teach.  We'll work out the bugs in the long run.  The thing that I am really excited about is that (if done properly), it opens up our classrooms to creativity, innovation, excitement and inquiry in a way that has in recent years been pushed aside in favor of multiple choice questions dictated by textbooks.  That change has nothing to do with the standards themselves, but with the way we are being instructed to teach them and (hopefully) the way they will be assessed.  There you go - my views on CCSS in a nutshell.

Louisiana Believes Educator Toolbox
One of the things this chat topic brought out is that not everyone feels prepared for CC and the new teaching methods.  Another is that Project/Problem Based Learning is gaining steam as the go-to method of teaching cross-curricular lessons with multiple standards integrated across disciplines.  Uh oh...that sounds complicated!  Not so much if we work together like we are.  One of the things we are going to need is a resource base.  So, now I can get to the fun part!  Resources!  Another topic that could go on forever, but at least it is interesting.  :D 

Here is a collection from @MrsBeck25, with articles on CC for Social Studies teachers.  Many historical sites have education activities that fit with what we are trying to do.  This is one from Mt. Vernon, and they have tons more.  Sign up for their e-mails, and you don't even have to go looking for them!  Colonial Williamsburg also has some tremendous resources and they have just started a new teacher community.  I haven't even started looking at this one, but it has a ton of CC resources - implementation, curriculum, alignment, professional development, supplemental materials.  You name it, it has it.

Primary sources are going to be a big part of CC teaching in any subject, and there are all kinds of places to find those.  Library of Congress, the Oklahoma History Center Research Room, and the Daily Oklahoman Archives (free to teachers) are some I use.  @SaintsWife0 shared this one with links to resources for all subjects, which lead me to this (which I really want to look at more!).  @MrsBeck25 sent us the link to Smithsonian Quests, which looks fun.  But, I've saved my favorite for last.  I love, love, love the National Archives Digital Vault!

You can start by shuffling images until you find one that you like, or you can search for a specific topic.
Once you choose an artifact, it brings up tons of connected items.

If you hover over the tags on the left, it will highlight items connected by that link.
Once you click on a link, it will enlarge to show you things like this homestead filing by Almanzo Wilder.

Or this image of a family claiming land through The Homestead Act of 1862....
Or this page from the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory...
Or even these notes from the eulogy delivered by President Clinton after the Murrah Building bombing.

If just looking at and/or printing resources isn't enough, you can do Pathways Challenges and link primary sources.  Use theirs or create your own!
Finally, if even that isn't enough, your students can create posters and now even videos using these primary sources!

 Do you see why I love the Digital Vaults?!  Who knew primary sources could be so fun?!  There is so much more to talk about when thinking about PBL and inquiry based lessons, but I'm pretty sure I've used up my space/time.  A good resource base is a place to start.  Now, who is going to take on the challenge of talking about PBL?

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