Monday, December 04, 2006

Mr. M's NCSS Conference - thoughts and memories

NCSS 2006 was memorable. We had four young men visit the conference located in our nation's capital this year. There were some good sessions and I came away with some ideas for both of my subjects - economics and history. We also had the chance to visit some important sites in and around the D.C. area. These included: monuments for Mr. Piper so he could see them again, Fredericksburg battleground, the NEW US Marine Corps Museum (WOW!), and Arlington National Cemetary (with a stop at Gen. Lee's old house). Here are the sessions I attended:

The Color of Money
This was a FED presentation. The focus was on the changes our money has experienced recently. They gave out a bunch of free stuff, for example I now have a new money video. There was some good discussion. The FED is usually very prepared for these conferences.

Using Middle School Literature to Teach the Six Core Economic Principles
This was led by a former educator now writer and a college professor. They handed out examples of lesson plans and activities to go along with a book that, in their opinion, is perfect for middle school students learning economics. The book is titled The City of Embera. I have been searching for a summer reading economics book tailored to middle school students for years!! Great presentation.

In Search of the Past: Mummies Around the World
This session presented a unit on mummies that will delight students as they discover how recent discoveries have shed light on the remarkable accomplishments of several largely unknown civilizations. I was hoping for some info on mummies in the western hemisphere. Since I teach American History in the spring, I was looking for some fresh info for the First Americans unit. I came out with some. Mummies are cool, though, that is for sure.

Patriots and Loyalists: Who were the "Good Americans?"
Presenters took a look at why the northernmost British colonies, Canadian colonies, decided against joining the rebellion. I liked their idea for this presentation. Unfortunately, the presentors were not very good speakers/presentors. Also, in the middle of the presentation a native american man interrupted and spouted his viewpoint which had nothing to do with what the speakers were trying to say. It was sad and disappointing. This is not the first time this has happened in a session I attended at NCSS. It happened to Chuck Taft a couple of years ago. People can have their viewpoints but it wasn't a symposium. The presentors were thrown off topic. Still, I got some good info.

The Ken Burns Effect: Making Digital Documentaries with your Students
Presentors did a wonderful job! I had a million ideas going through my head after viewing their presentation. Teachers shared their moviemaker examples for us and how they used them/effects. Mr. Montagne was with me for this one. Their handouts were very useful. I came away re-thinking how I have introduced history/geography topics in the past. I will be making some changes soon.

Herman Viola with Chief Joseph Medicine Crow
Dr. and Chief Joseph Medicine Crow was presented with the Spirit of America award. He also regaled us with stories of his life. He is 93 years old. Born in Montana on the Crow reservation and raised by pre-reservation family members, his life is truly a great and interesting story. He was one of the first, if not the first, indian to graduate from college in 1938. In WWII he was offered an officer's commission. He turned it down and joined as a foot soldier. He had many adventures including Counting Coup against German soldiers and stealing their horses! Great speech and I will use info from it during my First Americans unit in the spring.

Collapse: Teaching about the Fal of Civilizations Throughout History
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond discusses his book, Collapse, about what caused civilizations such as the Maya, the Anasazi, and Rome to fall. I was looking for info for my First Americans unit.

Pop Culture: A "Sweet" Tool for Motivating Middle School Students
I am not sure why it was "sweet". The presentors never got to that, but it was interesting. The basic gist here is that by infusing some pop culture into social studies lessons may increase the interest of middle schoolers. They have a point. They did provide some lessons too. I probably won't use these but it gave me some ideas for the future and made me remember how important it is to remember what the kids do like. That is powerful knowledge.

1 comment:

Will Piper said...

Great summary Brian. This was a great conference and a great time. Thanks for the fun and great conversations.