Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reasons to Attend GCSS

By Nina Kendall

Professional organizations in the fields of History and Education hold annual meetings to fulfill their missions.  These meetings or conferences are opportunities to learn about the work in the field and network with colleagues. The Georgia Council for the Social Studies (GCSS) is the professional organization for Social Studies Educators in Georgia.  Their annual meeting is held annually during the third week in October. The 2014 conference will be October 16-17.  Here are a few reasons to attend.

New Resources
At an annual meeting like GCSS, you have the opportunity to talk to organizations that support your professional work. At this year’s meeting you will have a chance to see new items that vendors have to offer and how organizations like Georgia Council on Economic Education and the Georgia Humanities Council support learning in our state.  No matter your budget, a walk through the exhibitor hall will lead you to resources to use in your classroom.
Exhibitors for GCSS 2014

Bridgeview Education
Cengage Learning
Clairmont Press
Didgeridoo Down Under
EF Education First
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Gallopade International
Georgia Center for Assessment
Georgia Center for Civic Engagement
Georgia Commission on the Holocaust
Georgia Council on Economic Education
Georgia Council for the Social Studies
Georgia Historical Society
Georgia Humanities Council
Georgia Public Broadcasting
Georgia Renaissance Festival
Georgia Southern University Museum
Heifer International
Jewish Community Relations Council
National Geographic
Non-Boring History
PDA Literacy
Studies Weekly
Teachers Retirement System
The Outstanding Guides, LLC
Tracy’s File Cabinet
Warbranch Press, Inc.
World Affairs Council of Atlanta/World Quest

New Insight
A variety of speakers at annual meetings will introduce you to new insights and developments in the field.  A few years ago, attendees got to hear from the Historian working on Today in Georgia History, a joint project between GPB and the Georgia Historical Society. This year you can learn about social studies instruction from around the state from speaker panel lead by Shaun Owen from the Georgia Department of Education.  You can also gain new insight into history while attending the keynote address delivered by Congressman John Lewis. Congressman Lewis will share his experiences and introduce his new book, March.

New Ideas
Make time to attend presentations of your choice at GCSS. From DBQs to Mentoring Student Teachers, there is a topic of interest to everyone.  Histocrat Margaret Duncan will be there presenting about Gamification.  Pick something of interest to you. Look for a session to address a problem you are facing in your school. Find out how to participate in National History Day and connect with the National Archives in Atlanta for research.  Leave with new ideas on how to make your classroom and school more effective and engaging.

We encourage you to make this part of your professional growth plans now and in the future. This annual event sponsored by Georgia Historical Society, Georgia Center for Civic Engagement, Georgia Humanities Council, and Studies Weekly in 2014 is an opportunity not to be missed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Crafting Comparisons: A Creative Activity for Teaching the CIvil War

By Nina Kendall

As an extended activity the during the Civil War unit, I challenge students to write metaphors comparing some aspect of the Civil War to some facet of a football game.  This activity is simply called, “If the Civil War was a football game.” Students have the opportunity to view models comparisons and a list of broad topics that we study in this unit. It is their job to make evidence based comparison using accurate and colorful language.

I do this activity with students with students enrolled in regular US History class and in Advanced Placement United States History(APUSH). With students in the regular US History Class, I provide a sentence frame, a model sentence, a list of history terms to choose from, and a reference list of football terms as reference. For the APUSH students, I share a few examples and challenge them to make their metaphors. I let my APUSH students choose to work by themselves or in a group. The rule for the assignment is simply the groups must turn in at least 10 metaphors for every group member. Students also had choice about the aspects of the Civil War they choose to be the subject of their metaphors.

This activity is very engaging and a great opportunity for students to be creativity. Students examine the war from economic, political, and military perspectives as they strive to understand how different people and events played a role. Some of the greatest independent  thinking about the Civil War from students happens during this activity. Students frequently extend their inquiry to different perspectives as they craft their metaphors. Further as students are crafting their own comparisons and selecting evidence to support their comparisons it is a great way for me to evaluate their understanding of the  period and their growth in using historical evidence.

At the conclusion of this activity students share the part of their work they are most proud of with their peers. This is a great day in class. I establish some rules for sharing. Each topic can only be used once in the entire class.  We rotate after each comparison to another person or group. Students are invited to express their appreciation and approval for the work of others. Students  happily share their work. As time runs down, students compete with each other to be able to share another part of the work.

Metaphor Rubric
Focus on Metaphor
There is one clear, well-focused metaphor. Main idea stands out and is supported by detailed information.
The metaphor is clear but the supporting information is general.
The metaphor is somewhat clear but there is a need for more supporting information.
The metaphor is not clear. There is a seemingly random collection of information.
Support for Metaphor
Relevant, telling, quality details give the reader important information that goes beyond the obvious or predictable.
Supporting details and information are relevant.
Supporting details and information are relevant, but are not period specific,
Supporting details and information are typically unclear.
The project contains many creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader's enjoyment. The author has really used imagination.
The project contains a few creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader's enjoyment. The author has used imagination.
The project contains a few creative details and/or descriptions, but they distract from the story. The author has tried to use imagination.
There is little evidence of creativity in the project. The author does not seem to have used much imagination.

Rubric from Read Write Think