The Spanish Flu versus COVID-19: Critical Thinking Activities for Social Studies

By Christine Boatman

As a social studies teacher, I am always curious about how future historians will view current events. Lately, I’ve found myself particularly interested in how the COVID-19 pandemic will be analyzed by generations to come—and, seeking a precedent that might provide some clues, I’ve found myself drawn to how history remembers the Spanish flu of 1918. This semester, I’ll be using this comparison to help my students contextualize current events by investigating a historical event. Furthermore, the three activities I’ve put together for this purpose will help my students develop their critical thinking skills. We will be investigating stories of individuals impacted by the Spanish flu, exploring primary sources related to the Spanish flu, and, finally, my students will write an account from the perspective of an individual living in 1918, based on these primary sources.  (Please note: it is important to take into account the ages and individual experiences of your students when planning these activities, and to be sensitive to any adverse reactions.)

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There should be no “best practices” for in-person teaching during COVID-19 – because it shouldn’t be happening

By David Nurenberg

As a teacher preparing to begin an unprecedented new school year in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been consumed with reading, and writing, tips and best practices for online and remote education. Preparing for this new world alone is an enormous task for teachers already grappling with all the other stresses of this time. But as September draws near, I am feeling even more nervous, and even less prepared, about how to conduct in-person education in this new climate.

The federal and state governments are requiring schools to develop plans for both full and partial/“hybrid” returns to school. That means teachers’ plans for setting up our classroom must account for disinfection and hazardous material handling. We must somehow figure out how to conduct class activities without ever bringing students closer than 6 feet from one another, how to conference with students or intervene in discipline situations from that distance. We have to figure out how to cover required content and meet student learning goals when classes might be meeting only half or one-third as frequently. We must include, and teach, entirely online and remote versions of every lesson for absent students, find ways to catch up students who miss large amounts of school, and figure out how to emotionally support anxious students – and ourselves.

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From Our Editors: Selected Articles on Post-Pandemic Planning

  • From Mary Burns on Edutopia:

Getting Ready to Teach Next Year

  • From Emily Tate on EdSurge:

What Will Schools Do in the Fall? Here Are 4 Possible Scenarios

  • From Heather C. Hill & Susanna Loeb on Education Week:

How to Contend with Pandemic Learning Loss

  • From Gene Kerns and Katie McClarty on EdSurge:

How Schools Can Prepare for a Very Different Kind of School Year

  • From Sarah Cooper on Edutopia:

Distance Learning Strategies to Bring Back to the Classroom

  • From Susan Page on USA Today:

Back to school? 1 in 5 teachers are unlikely to return to reopened classrooms this fall, poll says

  • From David Saleh Rauf on Education Week:

Will COVID-19 Spur Greater Use of Artificial Intelligence in K-12 Education?

  • From Gina Denny on Education Week Teacher:

6 Classroom Changes Teachers Will Make When Schools Reopen

  • From Erika Christakis on The Atlantic:

For Schools, the List of Obstacles Grows and Grows

  • From Sarah Gonser on Edutopia:

How Long-Term Tech Planning Pays Off—Now and In the Future