Cartoons can sometimes make a serious point. Benjamin Franklin’s 1754 “Join or Die” began the use of political cartoons. These visuals have been important in history by informing illiterate citizens and conveying a point of view on a political issue. Cartoonists, with a single picture, could insult enemies, celebrate allies, change people’s minds on important issues, and be humorous enough to make an impact on the public’s view. Political cartoons bring humor and exaggeration to past and current issues. I tell my students political cartoons are pictures with a point. We can provide students with the tools and questions they can use to decode and understand political cartoons.
Quacks love health crises, and the COVID-19 virus has become very lucrative for people who make claims about unscientific cures. In recent months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warnings to several companies who are promoting fraudulent products. These companies deceptively claim their products can treat or cure the virus. Modern teas, oils, and other treatments are not scientifically proven to be effective, yet customers are desperate enough to fall for these “curative” products. This isn't to say holistic and alternative medicines do not have healing properties for some, but overall the efficacy of these products and practices is largely unproven by evidence-based research.
Where do you find elementary school historians? The answer can be right in your digital classroom!
Essential questions ask students to consider the “big picture” of a topic. Answering an essential question is not easy, or quick, but these questions encourage students to explore wider and deeper. Information must be gathered, analyzed, and synthesized to construct quality answers. Therefore, students must also be able to answer the “just the fact” questions.
The discipline of economics is often bewildering to students and non-specialists, full of complex theories and challenging charts. Teaching everyday words like market, scarcity, depression, opportunity, and choice becomes much more complicated in the context of economics classes. In addition, the impact of economic theories and policies is not always clear cut; what may benefit some can be harmful to others. Economic policies fall on an ideological spectrum, making classroom discussions of current economic events especially challenging.
There is a quote by Tony Robbins that resonates with me when teaching: “the path to success is to take massive determined actions.” As an educator, this gives me several things to think about and question during instructional planning.
As teachers, we all want a way to make history a fun and engaging subject for our students. We want them to grasp the historical events that we teach about with the same passion that we have when we are planning the lessons. As educators, we want them to hear all the amazing stories from the past that will help them understand their role in the world they live in today.
Think back to a moment when you as a student sat in a social studies class and struggled to spit out a memorized date of an important event your teacher said would be integral to remember. Were those moments as dreadful for you as they were for me?
Cemeteries are trendy destinations. Cemetery tours feature the rich, the famous, the macabre, and ghosts. However, cemeteries can teach students about primary source artifacts and several other important social studies themes.
Think back to when you were a young child, trying to connect the numbered or letter dots to figure out what the mystery image would be. You would carefully plot where the next line would go so the picture would come out just right. Using essential questions is very much like that dot puzzle, trying to figure out what the major piece of the mystery concept is. As teachers, our job is to help develop questioning skills in our students so they can successfully uncover the hidden picture, to help them develop the skills of inquiry to fit all the pieces of the lesson together.