“My name is Thomas Kenning. I am the creator of Openendedsocialstudies.org. I am an educator with approximately fifteen years of experience in classrooms ranging from preschool to university, though my primary focus is on grades six to nine in the field of social studies. I have a bachelors in secondary education from Indiana University and a masters in history from American University. I started this website because it is the kind of resource that I am always looking for myself – digestible lessons that expand the too limited American notion of “world history,” accompanied by questions that help students to process and apply (not just regurgitate and forget) what they are reading. If the idea is to build bridges to a broader view of the world – not wall our students in – then I hope this website is one of those bridges, rickety as it may be.
I am a firm believer that the best teachers are creative and resourceful, making dynamic use of the tools they have at hand. In that spirit, some of the basic text on this website is adapted from open sources (like Wikipedia), but every bit of it has been fact checked and cross-referenced with academic sources. I’ve made every effort to ensure accuracy, as well as balance, across this website. I stand by everything I have posted here – I use many of these lessons in my own classroom on a regular basis – but if you see something that strikes you as inaccurate, by all means, please let me know in the comments section of the page in question.
Thank you for choosing to use Openendedsocialstudies.org in your classroom.”
Thomas Kenning is an author, educator, and adventurer. He has written extensively about Washington, DC, including in the recently published Abandoned Washington, DC. Mr. Kenning is the creator of the award-winning Openendedsocialstudies.org, a library of free lesson plans and travel writing designed to foster a sense of wonder about the world and our place in it. When he is not travelling to some far flung corner of the Earth, he resides with his wife and daughter (a DC native!) – planning his next improbable adventure and trying to leave the planet a little bit nicer than he found it.
“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” – Che Guevara
This lesson was reported from:
Continue reading “The Duty of the Hour: The Cuban Revolution Part I”
What is the root cause of our world’s troubles?
If you ask me, it’s not a trade imbalance or a terrorist threat. If we’re talking about the problem that lies at the heart of everything, it’s got to be a severe, devastating lack of empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Continue reading “Open Ended Social Studies has the chapters that your world history textbook is missing”
When you’re teaching from many textbooks, it’s easy to think of native societies as “the other” – the Aztec are conquered and swept aside, if they’re mentioned at all, and they appear from the perspective of their conquerors. They didn’t even call themselves the Aztec, for that matter – they referred to themselves as the Mexica, a name lent to the modern nation, and often excluded from your textbooks to prevent confusion between the two among students. Continue reading “For educators: Create an illustrated glossary of Nahuatl/English loan words”
Some of these girls are refugees from Syria and Iraq. Now, through the mercy and compassion of others, they are safe, fortunate enough to attend school in Bahrain. But there are many more just like them still hoping to escape the conflict and war that continues unabated in their homeland.
If only the United States – self-proclaimed greatest nation on Earth – could hold itself to the same standard as Bahrain.
The President of the United States – acting from fear, ignorance, and prejudice, in defiance of the America’s best virtues, of tolerance, inclusion, and mercy – has unilaterally decided that Islam is the enemy.
Educators, do your part! Teach the next generation of American students that Islam is not the enemy. The enemy is extremism, whether it comes from Aleppo or Washington.
Find time in your class for one of these lessons on the history, beliefs, culture, and humane values of Islam.
Continue reading “Now More Than Ever: Lesson Plans on the Basics of Islam and the Modern Middle East”
Our new Open Ended Social Studies video has gone live. Use it in your classroom to supplement your lessons on Islam. Kick start a conversation about salat and the Five Pillars. Answer the question: What happens in a mosque?
Continue reading “New Mini-Documentary: What Happens in a Mosque?”
Who was Muhammad, and how did the Arab world of the seventh century shape his teachings? Continue reading “Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam”