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Thoughts from 2021 Bootcamp

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

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Social Studies Bootcamp 2021

Bootcamp this year was great - I always say "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!", but after missing Bootcamp last year and all the COVID issues, it was just wonderful to be able to touch base with our amazing Wisconsin social studies educators again.  For those unable to join, here are the slide decks and recordings for each day (Day 1 folderDay 2Day 3).  This year, we focused in on the work of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad from her book Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy and how it applies to social studies teaching and learning. 

I found that our teachers are very hungry and excited for this work, and that in general, the Historically Responsive Literacy (HRL) framework is a good tie to social studies.  I saw the deep love and concern that our educators across the state have for their students (not a surprise, but always warms my heart to witness).  And overall, I was reminded how incredibly awesome our Wisconsin social studies teachers are.  

A few main points and takeaways for me:

  • The last year and a half has been really tough in many ways - worldwide pandemic, political unease, racial unrest. All of these have affected our teachers and students.
  • Land acknowledgments make some people uncomfortable. I found that very interesting.
  • Culturally and Linguistically Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogies - this is important for ALL students.
  • Dr. Gholdy Muhammad's framework, called "Historically Responsive Literacy", fits well with social studies teaching and learning. The framework outlines five "pursuits" based off of research she did on Black Literary Societies of the 19th and early 20th centuries. These pursuits are identity development, skill development, intellectual development, criticality, and joy. Using these five lenses leads to a learning experience that is powerful and engaging for all students.
  • Who has cultivated your own genius? This was a great experience for me. I sat in on a webinar with Dr. Muhammad and she made a collage of who supported her, who helped build her own genius as a person and as an educator. I did the same thing, and it really was a joyous experience. I encourage you to think about it, or even make a collage. Who cultivated your genius? Who supported/supports your important work as an educator? Who encourages you to keep learning? Who have you learned from that truly speaks in your soul as you are making decisions as an educator?
  • And most of all - this is difficult work we are looking at, but it is vitally important work.

Things coming out of Bootcamp for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Webinar/one-hour workshop on choosing resources with the Muhammad framework
  • And times to come chat/brainstorm with me. This actually worked out very well over the summer, and it was GREAT to be able to touch base with those who signed up! I need to work out some kinks, but there will be times scheduled where we can have a 30-60 minute conversation about whatever you need.
  • Book club – haven’t decided the books yet, but there are some people who really like these and find them valuable!
  • “Alike” groups -whatever these are called. Statewide or possibly small regional access to open discussions between districts. This could be teacher level (content or grade), and admin/leadership level (K-12 social studies curriculum/assessment).
  • Identifying/explaining/drawing out historical themes and eras a little better as an appendix to the standards. The point was brought up that if a district requires standards-based grading, but there are no content guidelines for historical eras and themes, teachers are often told not to teach content! This was a “whoa” moment to me. So this is on the to-do list now.
  • Lesson plan template using the pursuits from the Muhammad framework


Thank you for joining me, for brainstorming with me, and for helping me determine what my work will be for the next year.  I loved being able to chat with you, and I hope we can continue this work during the 2021-22 school year!

Please let me know if you have other ideas! 

Kris McDaniel, WI DPI Social Studies Consultant