Dr. Aaron Willis

Teaching Hard History: Is There a Role for Simulations?

February 11, 2020 By Dr. Aaron Willis

Simulations encourage students to “learn by doing.” The goal in using simulations in the classroom is for students to understand a concept or historical experience by acting it out. Creating a kinesthetic experience isn’t quite the same as reading about something in a book.

Six Essential Literacy Skills that Only an Atlas Can Provide

January 16, 2020 By Dr. Aaron Willis

Ask any teacher in any discipline at any grade level and they will tell you that literacy is one of their biggest concerns and challenges. What they mean by “literacy” can vary considerably, but generally we can take it to mean successful interpretation of the signs, symbols, and meanings someone else is trying to communicate. Literacy is often used to describe deciphering texts. In a child’s early years, basic phonics is the most common form of literacy, and as students get older, literacy comes to mean understanding the written word in all its variations.

4 Steps to Integrating a Geographic Lens in World History

November 19, 2019 By Dr. Aaron Willis

Many students have trouble understanding the geographic context of United States history even though they can often relate the themes to their lives. When teachers move to world geography, the problem of relating to the content is compounded many times over. Students rarely have the background knowledge or geographic literacy to understand where things happened in the past. Thus, making the connection between distant places and history to modern society and their own lives can be very difficult.

Teaching for Complex Thinking: Depth of Knowledge

January 30, 2018 By Dr. Aaron Willis
How do educators create the ideal mix of content coverage while at the same time training students to think and analyze novel situations? 

8 Close-Reading Strategies to Develop Literacy Skills in Social Studies

January 3, 2018 By Dr. Aaron Willis

 I have the privilege of working with teachers across the country and I often hear the refrain that too many students are just not reading on level. 

Extend Social Studies with Structured Online Discussions

September 6, 2017 By Dr. Aaron Willis

 Using discussion boards can be an excellent way to engage students with important  middle and high school social studies content.

Brain-Based Research and the Need for Hands-On Learning

August 25, 2017 By Dr. Aaron Willis

Rapid advances in brain-based imaging teach us that students need meaning in order to recall information, according to Differentiation and the Brain by David A. Sousa and Carol Ann Tomlinson.

No Student Is Average: Building a Curriculum for Individuals

August 22, 2017 By Dr. Aaron Willis
The trend toward personalized learning in education has called into question our culture’s extensive use of the concept of “average” to assess individual performance.