Website Update … and a Brief Tour

Author: Alythea McKinney

Posted by Alythea

Welcome to the new website!  It’s fully operational, and we hope you will explore it soon and use it often.  We want to call your attention to two parts of the site designed for active participation:


Conversations posts may be directly related to the current or potential work of Critical Explorers, or they may fall into broader categories such as critical exploration or progressive education.  If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact us.  To respond to posts, create an account and log in to the website.  (The mailing list has a separate sign-up form.)

Conversations is open to all who care about teaching and learning.  Again, topics may focus on existing or potential Critical Explorers investigations and projects, or they may address critical exploration and related themes in education more generally.  We hope educators working in a wide range of settings, as well as parents, graduate and undergraduate education students, and others who are interested, will join these discussions.


Critical Explorers investigations are designed to support critical exploration in the classroom. Each investigation originates in collaboration with a teacher and is centered on a topic many are required to teach. We assist collaborating teachers in their classrooms, working directly with students, so that the emerging curricula are informed by students’ interactions with the materials.

We are launching the website with one investigation:  Slavery and Reconstruction.  Much of it is up now, and the subtopic introductions and key images are all visible.  The investigation will be fully accessible online in February, when we formally launch the site at the Critical Explorers Launch Party.  Two other investigations, Industrial Revolution and Ancient Greece, will be available online in late 2011.  The website can expand to accommodate  any number of future investigations in History / Social Studies and other subject matters.

Investigations are featured on the home page (once there are more than three, they will scroll horizontally).  You can also browse them by scrolling down the All Investigations page.  Once you click on a particular investigation, you can read an introduction and see preview images and titles for each of the subtopics.  (The Slavery and Reconstruction preview page is here.)  Each subtopic can fill one or more class sessions. You can browse through all the subtopics as they appear, or you can consider teaching a smaller number or approaching them in a different order.

On each subtopic page, you will find featured primary sources with larger views and print versions, as well as links that allow you to download or access a number of others.  You will also find detailed Questions and Activities, Student Responses, Teacher Narrative, and Additional Resources sections.

We hope teachers will take these materials, questions, and activities, try them out, adapt them for their own students, and discuss their experiences in Conversations, either by responding to an existing post, or by contacting us about the possibility of writing a new post.

We look forward to talking with you.

Alythea McKinney is the director of Critical Explorers.

Jen Killpack

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an M.Ed. student in Utah, with a background in psychology and not much foundation in “core curriculum.” That said, I’ve been creating lesson and unit plans for my coursework and utilizing the Critical Explorers site to do so. By reading the discussions, articles, and using the Slavery and Restoration investigation as a jumping off point, I’ve created units that I’m pleased with and my fellow students (who are teachers) are interested in using. Point is, other than needing a little help here and there in figuring out how to post replies and comments, I’ve found the website extremely useful and user-friendly. The investigations have depth and breadth that kept my classes talking for a good long time.

I hope this feedback is useful.


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