Thursday, December 12, 2013

I love a Good Cartoon in the Classroom

by Nina Kendall
        Cartoons are engaging and thought provoking. They are an optimal method for conveying a strong opinion to a wide and diverse audience. In the classroom, they are a great tool for getting students thinking and talking.  I look forward to incorporating them in class every year. Further analyzing cartoons is the most advanced skill social studies teachers teach.

When teaching American History, the late 19th century is a great period of history to start regularly using cartoons as a part of instruction. With 10,000 newspapers functioning during the Civil War, cartoons were a popular medium for expressing a variety of opinions. Later in this period, the newspaper wars between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer fueled the prominence of cartoons. Thomas Nast, Richard F. Outcault, Joseph Keppler, and Homer Davenport created images that resonated with citizens and serve as great teaching tools.

Student Cartoon Analysis Work Sample
When introducing cartoons, it is a good idea to review the process.  To examine cartoons, I model to students the same process I use for analyzing all images.  The steps are look at the foreground, then look at the background, and then read the captions and all the labels. When working through these steps, we look first for what we can see. Then we examine the relationship between the items and infer meaning. This process will help students understanding any of the techniques used by the cartoonist and help you monitor their understanding of symbolism in the period. One example of symbolism that often evades students is that of exaggerated size. Students are unaware that the size of an individual in a cartoon is a reference to their wealth, status, and ability to refrain from hard work.

If you feel like you students simply need a refresher for analyzing cartoons, the Library of Congress has a great resource for you to use. “It's No Laughing Matter” is a web exhibit that identifies common cartoonist techniques and opportunities for guided practice. You could flip you classroom with this activity as a skill review before tackling the content you are currently teaching.

Once you are ready opportunities to use cartoons abound post 1860. We have compiled a few of our favorite cartoon resources here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans Day: Incorporating Veterans into your Classroom

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War. This war, the so called "Great War" and “War to End All Wars” was officially over.  A year later, the day was commemorated as Armistice Day and would later be a legal federal holiday in the United States starting in 1938. It is because more wars would follow that Armistice Day would evolve into Veterans Day.  This evolution allows for all Veterans of all wars be honored. 
Vietnam Veteran Jack Deleshaw speaking to students
As a teacher, I have over the years attempted to invite Veterans into my classroom and school to speak to students.  Within my career, I have been honored to have Veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam speak.  At the beginning of my career, WWII veterans were easy to get, however, over the years I had to make the switch to Vietnam veterans.  It saddens me that we are losing so many members of this “Greatest Generation” daily.  I am lucky to have as many speak as I did.  For the last 12 years my school has coordinated a Vietnam Speaker Event for all 10th and 11th grade students.  This annual event has been replicated at other schools with great success.  

I have worked with the same Vietnam Veteran’s group for many years.  The Henry County wing of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association has always been good to my students, my school, and me. Each year, I have had between 10-12 Veterans take time out of their life to share experiences with students.  In 2011, my school was lucky enough to get Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Joe Marm speak.  Col. Marm was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Ia Drang. 

Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Joe Marm and Me
at the 2011 Vietnam Veteran Speaker Event.
 While Veterans Day is for all Veterans—Past and Present, the day should not be confused with Memorial Day.  This confusion is often made by my students.  Whereas, Memorial Day is to honor all service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead.  Veterans Day is so that we can give thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Web Resources for teaching about America at War

Looking for interactive web resources about  American wars? Check out the ones below. All of these resources offer opportunities for students to interact with history.   One of these resources may be one of your new favorites.  Each offers the chance for students to work with multiple sources. Let us know what you enjoy and how you use it!

Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Mexican American War
Civil War
Western Indian Wars
Spanish American War

World War II

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gaming 101: Board Games in the Classroom

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

In October, I was able to share thoughts of incorporating games into the classroom with fellow teachers at the Georgia Council of Social Studies.  The following are some thoughts about what I presented, as well as a Top Ten list of games I think would be great for classroom use.  In my seminar, I offered information on many more games, but the Top Ten can be considered a starter set for those who want to test the gaming waters first. 


Why Incorporate Board Games?
Well, teachers who incorporate board games into the classroom do more than teach a standard for one day. Teachers often incorporate simulations into their classroom. Unfortunately, a simulation is a one-time offing. A cooperative board game can be used not just to gain historical knowledge but also for the simple benefit of playing a game. For example, a student who enjoys playing a round of Carcassonne may be motivated to play the game again with their family. Wouldn’t it be nice to have students play games with their family for fun? These games are a gateway to allow students to get more history into their lives.

My Top Ten Games for the Classroom

1. Pandemic—2nd Edition, Z-Man Games. Great for Geography, AP Human Geography. Playing Time: 1-2 Class Periods

2 (Tie) Carcassonne, Z-Man Games. Geography, AP Human Geography, World History. Playing Time: 1-2 Class Periods

2. (Tie) New World: A Carcassonne Game, Z-Man Games. World History, US History. Playing Time: 1-2 Class Periods

4.      7 Wonders, Asmodee. World History, Government. Playing Time: 1 Period

5.      Ticket to Ride, Days of Wonder. Geography, AP Human Geography, World History, US History, Economics. Playing Time: 2-3- Class Periods

6.      Twilight Struggle, GMT Games. US History, Government. Playing Time: 1-2 Class Periods  

7.      Pillars of the Earth, Mayfair Games. World History. Playing Time: 2-3 Class Periods

8.      Alhambra, Rio Grande Games. World History, Economics. Playing Time: 2-3 Class Periods

9.      Archaeology, Z-Man Games. Geography, World History. Playing Time: 1 Class Period

10.  Catan Histories: Settlers of America, Mayfair Games. US History. Playing Time: 2-3 Class Periods


Honorable Mention:

Monopoly, Hasbro. US History, Government, Economics. Playing Time: 2-3 Periods


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Like – Comment – Post: Another Way to Use Images

by Nina Kendall
Here are a few ways to use images that promote interaction among students and allow the teacher to assess student understanding. These activities can be done throughout a unit on a classroom wall or an electronic wall. They can also be done as alternatives to simple quizzes or a ticket out the door.
Like an Image
·   Post an image or provide to students and assign them a perspective. Students then choose to like an image or not and explain their decision. A simple task that reveals their understanding.
Comment on an Image
·   Students will comment on an image as they might on Facebook. The student then chooses a perspective or historical figure and respond to this imagine in their voice.
o  What would they say about it on Facebook?
o  What would they think?
Post an Image
·   Ask students to choose a point of view. Offer them several images to select from.   Have students explain why someone with this perspective or a given historical figure would post this picture on his or her Facebook page.
Here are examples from an American Revolution Unit completed on a wall in the classroom.


Yes. Students also created their own profile pics to use with this activity. In class, I acted as the filter. Students were only given the chance to post their comments after I had reviewed them. 

There were several advantages to this activity. My students enjoyed the activity, but where also challenged by it. It required historical thinking.  It was also easy to grade.