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Posts tagged ‘common core’

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

Kansas City Best Practices conference: Thinking historically more important than ever

Loving this already! I’m in Kansas City at the very cool World War One Museum at the Best Practices in History Education conference. The get-together is being hosted by the Kansas and Missouri Councils for History Education.

Meeting new people. Seeing old friends. Talking about history and strategies and resources and technology and big ideas and World War One stuff.  What isn’t fun about that?

I’m gonna try and post stuff from each session. Keep your fingers crossed.

Session one? Read more

Newsela: Current events, connections to contemporary issues, and literacy

Need a place to connect past with present? Need writing prompts? Need hundreds of articles about current events in an easy to access place? Need articles with leveled reading? Need a searchable database that filters by keyword, grade level, Common Core reading anchors, and articles with machine scored quizzes?

If your answer to even one of those questions is yes, then I’ve got just the tool for you. Newsela is a free (so far) site that provides all sorts of things perfect for social studies teachers looking to integrate literacy and contemporary issues into their classrooms.

I’m spending a lot of time this week working with small groups of social studies teachers, leading conversations about our new state standards and what that can look like in the classroom. One of the things I enjoy most about those kinds of conversations is the sharing that we all do – strategies, ideas, suggestions, web sites, just about anything that’s going to help us do our jobs better.

And Stephenie came through. A fifth grade teacher in a small parochial school, Stephenie has been using Newsela since last spring and loves it. She shared how she was using the tool and we ended spending the next hour or so exploring, talking, suggesting, and generally falling in love with the possibilities of Newsela.

At its most basic level, Read more

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