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Monday Mapping: Teaching Truth & Emotion

For almost a decade, I taught in a Social Studies Department where war was nothing more than a series of battles fought in an open battlefield, and where the costs were only monetary in the eyes of the instructors.  My primary source-based lessons on war became an on-going joke to them, with my "touchy-feely" teaching something they considered ignorant and unfathomable. 

Still, I continued to teach what I felt was best, and with my interactive and experiential lessons, my students walked away, not only knowledgeable about historic events, but also about empathy, respect, and appreciation for the sacrifices made by all citizens throughout time.

Over time, the shift has come more in my direction in most History Departments with teachers addressing the history as opposed to the sugar-coated textbook descriptions of our past, but with the move toward common assessments, and common instruction, will that trend continue?

Yes - if History teachers are insistent that they know what is best for their students in their classrooms.  In an era where difference must be accepted to avoid chaos and conflict in our modern world, it is even more important that students see the reality in the past so they can better see the reality in their present.

So, teach with reality written into your lessons.  Here are a few tools to help you get started:
  • National Geographic publishes incredible articles that show the real world with its beauty and its imperfections.  This article on Healing Soldiers through the use of Art, Revealing the Trauma of War, includes personal stories, and incredible images to help students better understand the costs of war. Here are other great sites with first hand accounts of war:
  • Many sites offer recorded interviews to document recent historyPBS has a number of collections, documenting everything from penny auctions and the dustbowl of the Great Depression to differing views on race with a step inside the KKK in their American Experience Collection.
  • Another incredible website is My Immigration Story which shares modern and historic accounts of the immigration experience.  The site encourages readers to share their story to help document all perspectives on coming to America.
  • And one of my favorite websites for real history is the Library of Congress.  The collections provides everything from letters to pictures to sound recordings that help tell the American story from the perspectives of everyday Americans.
  • Finally, check out your state Historical Society or Museum.  The Kentucky Historical Society has incredible personal history resources in a number of collections available online and very user friendly for students and teachers.  One of my favorite sections of the collection is this very complete account of the Civil Rights Movement in the state.
Teaching all sides of history and allowing our students to face reality can be a tough task in today's classrooms where everything else seems to be the priority, but it is doable with the right resources.  Find those resources, and do what you know will be best for your kids in the long run.

Need a jump start on interactive lessons that teach real history?  Visit My TpT Store for quality resources or simply for ideas that may spark your own lesson creation!

Happy Teaching!