Welcome back to. another Loves, Links, Reads, and Reviews – the monthly link roundup where I post my best Social Studies related finds from the internet and discuss all that I’ve been up to in the past month.
Loves and Links
Tenochtitlan – A Retelling of the Conquest – Throughline is one of my favorite podcasts, and this month they produced an outstanding episode about the Spanish invasion of Tenochtitlan. Although this episode might prove a bit too lengthy for students it’s an excellent episode for teachers. It pulls together contemporary accounts from indigenous people to tell a more nuanced version of the story.
https://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/uscompare/ – I get so many questions from students about the relative worth of an amount of money. They have trouble ascribing meaning without recognizing how much something might be worth today. This website allows you to input a total amount of money, and convert that total to a modern dollar amount! I know that I will be referencing this website all the time!
Florida in the 1920s – I’ve seen many colorized videos over the years, but I found this one especially mesmerizing. It’s a short video from Palm Beach, Florida in 1920.
Summer Professional Development Opportunities in Social Studies 2022 – I’ve always wanted to participate in some of the excellent summer PD provided by historical institutions around the country, however, I’ve been intimidated by the number of choices. I also found it difficult to find the time to apply during the school year. This spreadsheet will really help! This document organized the major PD offered by historical institutions around the country for the summer of 2022. As those that created it note, it is a living document and the details will be adjusted as more information is announced. Definitely add this document to your bookmarks and check back when you get a chance!
Another month, and another new discovery about early exploration/colonization in North America – If you discuss the many various groups that explored the Americas before Columbus, you’ll want to check out this new information about the Vikings.
Southlake – This was another podcast I was introduced to over this month. It discusses a school in Southlake, Texas that has been roiled by the issues affecting many teachers around the country – overt racism, an attempt by a school to deal with that racism through a diversity and inclusion plan, and then the backlash from white parents relating to all the confusion and misinformation that surrounds that discussion – Critical Race Theory, masking, and white anger all make an appearance. It is upsetting, and if your own community has been roiled by those issues (as mine has) you might need to skip this. However, if you want to listen to a podcast that tackles the bigger picture of this moment, this podcast is excellent.
A Gigantic Collection of Maps – History from the Middle posted about this map resource on Instagram. You’ll have to spend some time wading through the database to find what you need, however, there are tons of maps available through this resource.
One Question Interview – History in the Mitten posted this excellent lesson idea for students. It reviews current events and gets students up and moving around. I think this is a great idea for those off days when you might only see half of your students. She also posted a link to the actual resource. (Please click file – make a copy to get your own!)
Peacefield History posts from this past month…
I curated a list of a ton of podcasts that would actually work in middle school History. This blog post provides suggestions for your classroom and a long list of podcasts to choose from.
I also posted on my Instagram page about the new book releases for middle grade and YA historical fiction and non-fiction. You can preview the offerings below and shop through these links on bookshop.org.
New Peacefield History Resources
Ellis and Angel Island – A Historical Tour – This is a new free resource that takes students through the process of immigration at Ellis Island.
The Chinese Exclusion Act – This lesson teaches students about the historical reasons that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act, the details relating to the act, and the impact of that act.
Child Labor – This lesson teaches students about the issues created through child labor. Students will analyze the photographs of Lewis Hine and some primary sources discussing the consequences of free-wheeling capitalism. (Students will discuss the laws created to address child labor in a later assignment.)
Reads and Reviews
My reading time was a little more sporadic this past month as garden clean-up took up much of my spare time. At this point, most of the garden is safely tucked away for winter, so I’ll have more time to dive into the giant pile of books on my nightstand – and in my office – and the living room – and on my kindle. I’ve become well aware that I’ll never really read all the books on my list, and I’m ok with that.
WWI has ended, and Ben (13 years old) and Lotti (age 12) have both suffered losses that have left them largely on their own in England. They love the freedom of a little canal narrowboat called the Sparrowhawk, but the local authorities are closing in. In an attempt to reclaim their freedom, the two attempt to take the canal boat over the channel to France to find their family.
This book was a sweet palate cleanser from some of the sadder stories I've been reading as of late. Although the synopsis might indicate otherwise, there are no great stakes in this book and the writing honestly felt like it was from another time. This book is historical fiction only in the sense that it takes place in history. Beyond that, it's an endearing little story with classically written characters. It's best for younger middle-grade readers and it would be perfect for a bedtime read also.More info →
This book is a must-have for any teenager who is enthralled by war or terrorism. Kamran, an Iranian American teenager, is caught up in a whirlwind of hate and suspicion after his brother is caught on video attacking a U.S. embassy. Soon after, Kamran and his parents are taken in by the CIA for questioning. Though the story of the family and the terrorist act are all fictional, the greater topics of the war on terror, racial profiling, and the news media all reflect the reality of our time.
From an adult's eyes, the story lacks believability. There are too many implausible connections made and the character storyline just doesn't reflect the reality of terrorism. Still, I think this is an excellent attempt to examine a multifaceted issue while keeping the story comprehensible for a middle schooler.More info →
I was delighted when I was asked to review Megan's new book, Major Events in American History. I know that Megan's work is always researched based and her point of view on history is one that I trust. Major Events in American History provides the perfect concise introductory text for students and teachers. Forbes' writing is crisp and grade-appropriate, however, she often goes beyond the standard narrative to include enlightening and thought-provoking detail.
I could see this book in many classrooms across the country, particularly when the teacher finds it necessary to introduce a new topic. I was particularly delighted to see that Forbes' often recommended further middle-grade historical fiction titles at the end of many topics for students to conduct a further investigation.More info →
A Night Divided had me hooked from the first pages. The main character, Greta, lives with her mother and her brother in East Germany, while her father and other brother have escaped to the other side. Trapped in the city by the Berlin Wall, the three are compelled to stifle any misgivings they may have about the Communist government and the Stasi. Early on in the story, Greta devises a plan to break free, and the tension surrounding whether her plan will achieve success consumes much of the rest of the story.
The hardship of daily life and the trauma of living under a Communist regime are depicted with some inconsistent historical accuracy. The story was engaging, and I legitimately wanted to see if Gerta and her family would achieve success in their task. With that said, the book could have been much better researched. As many German readers have pointed out, there were quite a few historical inaccuracies that made the major plot points implausible. Also, as a Goodreads reviewer noted, "to stay (in East Germany) is bad, to leave is bad." A bit more discussion of those difficult choices would have provided levity to the plot. However, with that caveat noted, for students unfamiliar with life under Communism, this book provides a sound introduction.More info →
Mary Crow Dog was born on a desolate South Dakota reservation, she survived a missionary school, was among those protesting at Wounded Knee in 1973 (while 9 months pregnant), and was an insider to the American Indian Movement. Although this book is written more as a narrative than as a historical story, there is so much history to be found in this text. I confess that I didn't know much about the American Indian Movement of the 1970s beyond the standard textbook definition. Therefore, when I read the back of this book, I knew it belonged in my "to be read" pile.
Mary's story is both raw and sparse. Much of it reads like a stream of conscious retelling, as she relays the abuse and indignations that Lakota Sioux have suffered throughout history. Her life story makes the impact of U.S. policy demonstratively clear. If you're looking for a book about more recent Native American history that goes beyond the a basic summary of events, Lakota Woman is perfect.More info →
I'm so excited every time I get a chance to read a Steve Sheinkin book! He takes a fascinating story that is just meant to be told and writes that story with text that a middle schooler can actually understand and appreciate. I know, one would think it's common sense, but honestly, these books are so refreshing to read. This book is his latest release, and it could be considered a sequel to his previous book - Bomb. Fallout discusses the astronomical tension that developed during the Cold War between Kennedy and Khrushchev and the events that led to the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Sheinkin incorporates anecdotes about the two leaders (like Kennedy's constant back pain) to make the topic more relatable and personable. The narrative is written with short chapters and thriller-like text that would draw in any middle schooler. Pick up this book for your classroom and check out the rest. I plan on adding all of his titles to my classroom bookshelves next year.More info →