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Posts tagged ‘common core’

#NCSS14: Session Two – Connecting Your Government Class and the Real World

Presented by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, my #NCSS14 session two focused on ways to engage students directly with actual issues in their communities through direct civic action.

They suggest that you can turn your government classroom into a hands-on civics lab to teach the workings of government by empowering students.

They shared about their Civics Action Project, a  Read more

Tip of the Week: Listen Current equals NPR goodness

I got an email several weeks ago about a new online teaching tool called Listen Current. It sounded interesting but threw it on the back burner because of other stuff going on at the time. I got the chance to play with Listen Current this week and I’m thinking that I should have looked at it a lot sooner.

Cause it is very sweet.

According to their own propaganda, Listen Current “makes it easy to bring authentic voices and compelling non-fiction stories to the classroom. We curate the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time.”

Basically that means that Listen Current provides access to audio clips from National Public Radio and other public networks from around the world that cover both current events and historical topics. The clips are short and easy to use with students. But that’s not all that the site can do for you.

Read more

47 “Magic Words” for showing relationships in student writing

Over the last few months, I’ve written several times about evidence-based terms. Evidence-based terms are words and phrases that can help your kids write stronger and more effective argumentative essays.

These might phrases such as:

  •  The author stated
  • On page five, the text suggested
  • From the reading I know that

Using these sorts of words encourages the integration of historical thinking skills into activities focused on meeting ELA literacy standards.

Late last week, I ran across a similar sort of document that I used with both my middle school kids and college students. I called them Magic Words. Magic because using these words in their writing forced students to focus on what they learned in terms of time, cause and effect, spatial and personal relationships, and possible alternative versions of history. Read more

Tip of the Week: History, Government, & Social Studies Skills by Grade and Discipline

When I sit back and think about the changes in social studies instruction and learning that have happened here in Kansas over the last few years, I’m always a wee bit amazed. Good teachers across the state have always asked kids to read and write and use evidence and think historically. But up until two or three years ago, the focus for many had been on simply having kids collect and memorize historical data.

The conversation is changing. Teachers and administrators are now talking more about the process of social studies rather than just the data. Teachers are looking at and using Sam Wineburg’s stuff over at SHEG. They’re using more literacy activities, more fiction and non-fiction, and generally having better discussions about what quality social studies looks like.

A huge hat tip to Don Gifford, social studies consultant at the Kansas Department of Education, for driving all of this forward. He put together a team of educators from across the state to rewrite the Kansas standards, facilitated the writing, and maneuvered the document through the hoops needed to get unanimous approval from the state board. He’s busy at the moment trying to create a state assessment that measures historical thinking while combining it with the ELA writing assessment. And, since this really hasn’t ever been done before, it’s an interesting and complicated process.

All of this to say that there is a lot of transformation happening here in the Sunflower state. And that’s a good thing. But change is never easy and so the struggle as been to find ways to ease people into the idea of teaching process AND content. To find resources and scaffolding to help teachers see what this sort of instruction and learning can look like in practice.

One of the powerful pieces of the state document is the Literacy Expectations and Best Practices section. It highlights those things that students and teachers should be doing in a high-quality classroom.

But what I often hear is that Read more

Need to teach historical thinking and literacy? To both high and low levels? You need this book

One of the obvious reasons for attending professional conferences and workshops is the opportunity for checking out new BBQ restaurants. Of course, there is that whole learning new stuff, meeting new people, attending sessions idea too.

And last week’s KCHE / MOCHE Best Practices conference in downtown Kansas City gave me the chance to check off both. Got to eat some great BBQ and do all of that other stuff. I really did walk away smarter (and thanks to Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, also just a little bit rounder.)

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from my two days? Read more

Using evidence-based terms in a secondary social studies classroom

It was a great day today – 70+ K-12 teachers were hanging out at @ESSDACK, learning from each other and from Adam Topliff, Kori Green, and Lori Rice. All three are Kansas Department of Ed certified standards trainers who just happen to be awesome classroom teachers. As part of an agreement between ESSDACK and the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, they ended up in Hutchinson doing a couple of full day social studies workshops.

Adam, Kori, and Lori spent the day leading conversations about the state standards, the state assessment, and what good instructional practice looks like at different grade levels.

The best part was that I got the chance to just hang out and rotate between all of the sessions – picking up all of the goodness.

My walk-away from the day?

We need to have kids read and write more. Of course, that sometimes means more work for us as we train kids to do those sorts of things. One of the best things we can do is to provide lots of structures and scaffolds and organizers and tools that can help them become better writers.

And my new favorite structure slash scaffold slash organizer slash tool is the idea of giving our kids Read more

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