A Lesson in Humanity

Even though the end of the academic year is almost here, the most intense lessons were during the last weeks of the year. One of the topics in the IB history curriculum is authoritarian states, of which Hitler and Nazi Germany were discussed in my lessons. Last year, I taught the same syllabus, but I was disappointed with lack of depth in the lessons. Hence, I wanted to make sure that the outcome of the lessons series was more meaningful, rather than "just knowing" what happened. Therefore, the big idea that I wanted to convey was the role of the bystander; the person who witnesses but does nothing to stop it. To what extent is that allowing for atrocities to happen? The tools I used for teaching this idea were the Universe of Obligation and The Pyramid of Hate.

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Teaching Family in Grade 6

Ever since I started listening to the podcast Queer America from Teaching Tolerance, I realised how little time I spend on incorporating LGBTQ issues in my lessons. Therefore I wanted to do better and taught a lesson about “What makes a Family?” in grade 6, as a part of a unit about early human beings. This lesson is an example of how LGBTQ topics easily can become a part of one's curriculum.

Teaching Intersectionality: STFU

The Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU) was a resistance movement founded in 1934 to address the issues created by the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which was a part of the New Deal. This act, aimed to increase prices of food, backfired by having landlords remove tenants from their lands and keeping the subsidies, given by the government, for themselves. The Southern Tenant Farmers Union protested against these measurements by organising themselves, writing protest letters and going on strike. The union consisted of as well black and white people, of women and men. By discussing this union in the classroom, class, race and gender are being discussed, making the Southern Tenant Farmers Union a prime example of an intersectional topic.

Mock Trial: Emperor Hirohito

Teaching skills like critical thinking, researching, and collaborating is one of the most important task of education nowadays. Sometimes it is difficult to fully focus on these important competences, since the curriculum is full and expectations high. One of the topics of the IB history exam is the "Move to Global War", for which the Japanese expansion between 1931-1945 is a case study. I designed a mock trial based on an imaginary prosecution of the Japanese emperor Hirohito to focus on as well skills as content.

Lesson 7: Reading The Great Depression Like a Historian

The importance of the subject history is teaching valuable skills, which are essential in this 21st century society. The amount of information that each and everyone of us processes on a daily basis is uncountable. Unfortunately, we are not -yet- sufficient in distinguishing reliable sources from inadequate ones. The inspiration from this lesson is directly derived from the clear cut lessons created by the Stanford History Education Group in which students have to compare and contrast information from a variety of sources.

Book tip: “Being the Change”

There is a need for culturally competent teachers in as well North-America as Europe. The content of Culturally Responsive Teaching is sometimes hard to translate in practical lessons, especially learning engagements that are appropriate and relevant in European classrooms. However, I found a resource that provides educators with hands-on activities and teaching strategies that supports... Continue Reading →

Getting honest about ​teaching Role Models​

At the end of the school year, there were some weeks left that I used to talk about role models with my grade 9. The inspiration for this mini-unit came from the music clip “Apesh*t” by Beyonce and Jay-Z in which the couple refers to the representation of black people in art. The mini unit initiated some tough conversations about power and privilege in the class, which taught me valuable lessons. The foundation of this mini-unit were worksheets based on the video in combination with background readings and the IB learner profile attributes. 

“It is hard to be unbiased” – ​an Oral History Project

The aim of Oral History is to preserve accounts that are not highlighted in the mainstream discourse due to a range of reasons. The voices heard through Oral History are stories not acknowledged or presented in dominant narratives, because these are perceived as insignificant or never captured. The aim of this Oral History project was exactly that: recording stories of people that are often forgotten or dismissed. The eventual end result was for as well teacher as students inspiring.

Thinking Metacognition: Understanding

Something that is not always at the centre of teaching is metacognition; teaching students how to learn and to become independent learners. Within the international baccalaureate these fundamental skills are called Approaches to Learning Skills (ATL Skills) and they intent to be the foundation of each unit. This blog post discusses the making of a thinking portfolio based on the principles of Visible Thinking. The aim is to empower students by encouraging independent learning when providing them with thinking routines.

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