The Monthly Roundup – Loves, Links, Reads, and Reviews

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.

February was a month of refocusing and rebalancing for me. I’ve found that as much as I may try, I really can’t divide my attention towards all of the avenues of the internet. After reading How to do Nothing, by Jenny Odell (my review linked here), I decided that I needed to reassess my relationship with social media. I stepped away from Instagram for the month, and as a result, I found that I was much happier in my daily life. I didn’t find myself “checking in” with the internet nearly as much, and I actually completed my daily Spanish lessons.

The experience made me really question my relationship with the internet in general and the modern need to share one’s life… Does everyone really need to see our vacation photos? Our new laundry room? Are we only successful or accomplished if we share what we have done with others? How do we feel when we see others sharing their successes? What does that say about our relationship with internal satisfaction? Are we less satisfied with our lives because we are aware of something better?

I don’t have any answers, I just thought about this a lot lately.

Going forward, I’ve decided that I will be deleting/archiving my professional Instagram account. All of my new content will be posted here – on the blog. I’ve never really enjoyed being subjected to the whims of a social media algorithm and I just don’t want to spend the rest of the time I have on this earth devoted to growing followers or sharing my anxieties for likes. (I still have a Facebook page, Facebook group, and Twitter. I’ve found them to be more manageable and frankly, they’re enough.)

Therefore, If you have enjoyed what I share, please make sure to subscribe to my newsletter or through an old-school RSS feed. I will be posting here more regularly and I have a blog redesign coming… at some point in 2022? (It’s a LONG work in progress.)

The Crisis in Ukraine

Social Studies teachers always find themselves adapting lessons to meet the needed of current events of the moment. It’s one of the reasons we require so much flexibility as educators (and why we can’t post our lessons a year in advance.) Currently, the crisis in Ukraine has been dominating our newsfeeds, and with good reason. I’ve seen many resources pop up for teaching this topic. I thought I would share a few that I found most helpful here. Of course, the details relating to the invasion are changing daily, so some of these will become dated within the week. Regardless, I find those resources offering historical context (for students and teachers alike) necessary for understanding the current developments.

The Choice Program – Brown University – These resources are certainly above the level of most middle schoolers. However, they would be really helpful for teachers who need context and teachers might choose one of the topics or resources to discuss with students.

The Roots of the Ukraine War – This article also provides some historical perspectives for teachers.

Middle Web – How will students get their news? – This article is also for teachers, but it specifically addresses how students get their news and why those news sources matter.

Today Explained, Vox – There are several podcasts related to Ukraine on this list. They all provide good context for teachers.

Convene the Council – has a new game where students play the president and make foreign policy decisions.

Google Slides Presentation – the War in Ukraine – This is an excellent slideshow for students. While too complicated for middle school, teachers can just make a copy and edit down the text. The original source of this presentation is unfortunately lost. If you know who created this, please let me know and I will add in their name!

Segregated By Design – I came across this short documentary about redlining. It’s animated, and it breaks down the ideas behind redlining and the “constitutionality” of this process. It’s definitely made more for high school students, still, it breaks down the events that led to segregated cities in a logical fashion, and more importantly, it explains how that segregation was not accidental. What I found most interesting were the shady practices of real estate agents to scare white homeowners against allowing integration with black residents. The whole documentary is packed with information.

Brush.Ninja – This website is super cute and easy for students to use! They can create little animated gifs and then export them easily. I created a little mini one and I was able to just drag and drop it into a Google Slide. This would be a great activity to make sure that students understand vocabulary terms or concepts. Best of all, it’s free!

Pod Save America – Offline interview with Hank Green – Ohhh… this was a good one. Green discusses how inquiry is so essential to an authentic education, how social media platforms have encouraged the situation we’re all currently in, kids with TikTok, and how TikTok has lessened natural human interactions among children. It gave me so much to ponder.

Historial Borders – My teacher brain was mesmerized by this site. This is a map of the world that displays the borders of each country and how those borders have changed through the centuries. Users can toggle through a flat version of the globe and a spherical version of the globe. This site could trigger so many discussions about why borders change or who really “owns” land. Definitely spend some time checking this out.

What Happens to Kids when you Teach about Slavery? – Have you ever gone down an internet rabbit hole? I just did with this news article. That article (which discussed teaching about slavery), then led me to this database Freedom On the Move. Freedom On the Move is a database of all of the newspaper ads that were printed regarding people who liberated themselves during the era of slavery. It’s very user-friendly and brings up tons of lesson ideas. Take time to check out both.

Peacefield History posts from this past month…

I 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 Notably, that will be my last month posting the previously released titles on Instagram. I will still add a link to the slideshow here. If you click through the link and purchase from I earn a small commission. So, thank you!

January 2022 – The Monthly Roundup – If you didn’t catch last month’s monthly roundup, you can check it out through the link! You can catch all of my monthly roundups by clicking here.

New Peacefield History Resources

I finished up my Progressive Era unit with a few more resources to provide options for teachers. (I LOVE having options. If half of my students are suddenly out because of quarantine, or a half-day (where some kids just don’t come), or a random field trip, I need an alternative lesson!)

Triangle Fire – Video Guide – This resource provides a video guide for students watching the American Experience documentary about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. I think the video provides a nice overview of the events of the fire. The video guide breaks down the events even further and offers a way to make sure kids are engaged without overburdening them with information to document.

Black Thinkers of the Progressive Era – With this lesson, I wanted to make sure that students had an opportunity to spend more time thinking about and reading the words of Black Progressives. Each of these individuals – Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington – had different ideas about the movement for racial equity. This resource breaks down those ideas and has students discuss the differences.

The Progressive Era – Full Unit Bundle – With the addition of these resources, I was able to create a bundle of all of the Peacefield History resources from that era. I also wrote a unit outline and pacing guide to include with the unit.

I also have some new resources coming for World War I very soon. (The three days missing from February really impact my workflow!)

Reads and Reviews

This was not a reading month for me. I started and DNF several books and I ended up just making it through one fully. This was a good one, however!

Reads and Reviews - February 2022
Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice

Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice

This book succinctly summarizes and effectively argues how the for-profit system of fines and fees criminalizes poverty in the United States. It makes its case by following the stories of three people who were caught up in the system. Messenger supports these anecdotal stories with data from many states detailing how this system has caused significant harm. It's clear from his assessment that the only groups who are winning from this system are the for-profit prisons. It costs the government more to criminalize poverty and it certainly doesn't help those in poverty to escape their circumstances, nor does it make communities safer in any shape or form. It's clear that this system needs to change and hopefully politicians will be clear-eyed enough to look past the immediate profits and towards the longstanding damage these fines and fees create.

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