Three sessions this afternoon:

  • Four teachers from a suburban school presented a session titled “Tips for Inexperienced Social Studies Teachers.” With so many teachers in ESSDACK districts teaching SS for the first time, I thought this would be helpful. Well, it was and it wasn’t. The group spent very little time actually talking about tips for new SS teachers. They did give a short list of mostly common sense stuff and showed one way to analyze a photograph but most of the session was a description of the yearlong thematic curriculum they developed.I was hoping for more tips but the thematic discussion was good. They created eight essential questions that focuses on eight units: Immigration / American Culture / Technology & Invention / Protest & Rebellion / Role of Government / Civil Rights / War / Significant Events. Some good ideas, especially on essential questions.
  • The second session was supposed to be on using the Internet to promote student understanding. The problem? No Internet! Christine Power did try to cover as best she could, talking about using the Internet to do Instruction / for Support / to Promote Student Work / and Connecting with Community. Some good ideas but working at a terrible disadvantage with no access.
  • The last session was very helpful. Four panelists from a variety of academic backgrounds talked about the legacy of the Brown v. Board of Topeka court case. Some interesting comments and observations. Dr. Kara Turner from Morgan State University had perhaps the best presentation, spending most of her time articulating four myths that she says still exist concerning the Brown case.
    • Myth One: Brown was all about integrating schools. Turner says most participants didn’t care about integration, they wanted a quality education.
    • Myth Two: Because black schools were underfunded and facilities were bad, the education was also poor. She pointed out that there was great education taking place in many schools, in fact many of the the teachers were very highly educated and were college level professors. (who couldn’t get jobs except in K-12 black schools)
    • Myth Three: Desegregation is the key to school improvement. Turner says that integration does not guarantee a quality education.
    • Myth Four: Segregation is inherently evil/bad and detrimental to just black students. Turner’s point was well-crafted. We don’t always think about the effects of segregation on white students. Diversity is good for everyone. Turner suggests that until whites realize that fact, programs like affirmative action will always have opposition.

Some good and helpful things. Found a few people to talk to in between sessions that was helpful as well. A good day!