How to Teach Like A Traveler

“The best thing would be to take your students on a field trip every day – a world tour that throws light on experiences that most of your class can scarcely imagine. But of course, for so many reasons, that isn’t possible.

In the meantime, we educators have a duty to report the world back to our students – in all its unvarnished wonder. The great Mark Twain wrote, ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely…’

Are you teaching with the spirit of a traveler?”

Thomas Kenning, the creator of Openendedsocialstudies.org, has written an article which appears in this month’s issue of Teacher Plus magazine entitled “How to Teach like a Traveler.”

Check it out now, and check out our library of lessons designed to help you do just that!

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Upcoming Research Expeditions

Openendedsocialstudies.org is pleased to announce that Thomas Kenning, founder and chief creative officer, will be undertaking several research expeditions in the coming months, all with the aim of producing new content and resources for this site.

In May, Mr. Kenning will be traveling to Moscow to participate in the annual Victory Day celebration. While there, he will be gathering information for further lessons in our proposed open source Russia textbook.

In June, Mr. Kenning will be in residence in the Philippines, developing a new curriculum unit on this fascinating syncretic culture.

Also in June, Mr. Kenning has scheduled a working trip to Tokyo with the aim of realizing long gestating plans for several lessons on the history and culture of Japan.

Finally, in July, Mr. Kenning returns to Cuba to complete work on new lessons documenting that nation’s colonial past.

Summer is traditionally the season that sees the most research and development at Openendedsocialstudies.org, and this is turning out to be one of our most exciting seasons yet!

 

 

Content Development Services

Interested in developing high quality educational content for your nonprofit, industry, or cause?  Thomas Kenning, the creator of Open Ended Social Studies, with 12 years and counting experience in the classroom, also works on contract.  References from previous clients available upon request.

For inquiries, please contact me below.

Educational and Documentary Films

 


The Museum of Industrial Culture – Moscow, Russia

for use with The Material Culture of the Soviet Union: The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and with it all of the state-run industries that held a monopoly on the ordinary consumer and commercial products that make up the Museum of Industrial Culture in Moscow, Russia. The Soviet system of government was gone, for better or worse, and so too was the material culture that had defined Russian life for generations.


The Maya: Collapse at Ek Balam

for use with the The Maya: Illuminated Offspring of the Makers lesson.  Take a tour of the ruins of the Maya city of Ek’ Balam, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This haunting marvel begs the question: what led to the collapse and dramatic restructuring of this ancient civilization?


Uxmal: Thrice-Built City of the Maya

for use with the The Maya: Illuminated Offspring of the Makers lesson. Take a tour of the ruins of Uxmal, one of the largest and best preserved cities of the Maya. Located in Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula, the ruins of Uxmal are comprised of the Pyramid of the Magician, the Nunnery Quadrangle, the ballcourt, the Governor’s Palace, and the Great Pyramid. Learn about the history and function of each of these impressive structures, as well as what they can tell us about the Maya world and culture.


What Happens in a Mosque?

for use with the The Gulf States: Cosmopolitan Crossroads lesson.  What are the basic teachings of Islam, and what does it mean to be a Muslim?


The Inca: Andean Civilization in the Realm of the Four Parts

for use with the The Andes, the Inca, the Spanish, and the Making of Modern South America lesson. The Inca were one of the great civilizations of the world, no matter how you measure it – in art, technology, wealth, military power, population, area controlled, or influence on world history.

Ideas for Teaching about the Ancient Maya

Openendedsocialstudies has just launched a brand new unit for teaching middle or high school classrooms about the ancient Maya.  Find free readings, guided questions, and lesson plan ideas on the following subjects:

  • The Basics of Ancient Maya Civilization – Who were the Maya?  Where did they live and when?
  • The Ancient Maya in Time and Space – How did the Maya interact with their environment?  How did the Maya conceive of themselves and the universe around them?  In European influenced societies, geography, ecology, time, and spirituality are all relatively distinct spheres – not so for the ancient Maya, whose since of time, space, and religion were closely linked.
  • Ancient Maya Society – How was the ancient Maya society structured?  How did they govern and feed themselves?
  • The Maya City – The most durable testament to the grandeur of the ancient Maya are their grand construction projects.  How were these cities made, and what makes them so awe-inspiring?
  • The Written Language of the Maya – Language shapes thoughts, knowledge, and feelings as well as human imagination, so it permeates all aspects of culture – the complexity of the Mayan language is key for understanding the richness of this people.

One great way for students to develop a deeper understanding of a concept is to have them teach others.

  1. Choose any section from this unit and develop a lesson – in the form of a presentation, a storybook, or a worksheet – that teaches younger students about the Maya.  Make sure the material is age appropriate in content and approach, and create some simple questions to check your audience’s understanding.

Find more free lessons on the Maya at Openendsocialstudies.org.  

There are also plenty of free lessons featuring other peoples from world history.

Free Lesson Plans: Understanding the Refugee Experience

Ms. Rita Ulrich, a Fulbright-Hays fellow, traveled to Bulgaria and Greece in 2017 to better understand the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.  She recently contributed her lessons – detailed text appropriate for the middle or high school classroom, complete with creative activities and guided reading questions.  It’s everything you need to humanize this unfolding human tragedy for your students.

  • Refugees and Human Rights in Bulgaria (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): What are refugees, why are they in European countries like Bulgaria, and how is the United Nations involved?
  • The Psychology of a Refugee Crisis (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): What psychological dangers do refugees face throughout their journey and during their time searching for safety and a new home?

There are also plenty of free lessons featuring other nations currently in the news.

Learn how you can submit your own work to Openendedsocialstudies.org.

Take a Guided Tour of Maya Mexico, 2017

Explore the ruins of Ek’ Balam, Uxmal, and Chichen Itza, scramble through streets of colonial Merida, and sample the cuisine and culture of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on this guided photo essay (complete with suggested activities for use in your social studies classroom.)

This photo essay works perfectly in conjunction with the rest of our free Maya unit.

Suggested Activities

  1. Choose any topic described in a photo or caption in this album. Do deeper reading and research on that topic, creating a presentation to share with your class.
  2. Research and plan a realistic travel itinerary through Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula that focuses specifically on its Maya and colonial histories. Explain the historical or cultural relevance of your choices. Present the final itinerary with photos and estimated costs for the whole trip.

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