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
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
I recently facilitated a conversation with elementary teachers that focused on using the C4 Framework in the K-5 social studies classroom. It was a great day – we talked about historical thinking and the use of evidence and integration of social studies with ELA and online resources and all sorts of cool stuff.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the day was the time we spent talking about and practicing the use of social studies trade books in the elementary classroom. One of the resources we used was a great book called Every Book is a Social Studies Book: How to Meet Standards with Picture Books, K-6.
First thing, it’s not just for K-6. There is stuff in there for middle school and even some high school folks. Second thing, it’s a book you need to track down. The authors, Jeannette Balantic, Andrea S. Libresco, Jonie C. Kipling, have put together an amazing collection of discipline-specific strategies along with extensive collections of trade and picture books all aligned to 10 national NCSS social studies themes. Read more
I’m convinced that the TED-Ed tool is one of the most under-utilized online tools ever. Where else can you incorporate sweet TED videos, YouTube videos, a variety of assessment tools, automatic scoring, flipped classroom theory, online collaboration, instant feedback to teacher and student, the power of crowds, and get it all for free?
That’s right. Nowhere else.
Head over to TED-Ed and start using it.
Check out their latest feature. TED-Ed Clubs. Read more
It’s that time of year. The MACE tech conference in Manhattan opened its doors this morning and I’m loving it. It is about as nerdy a place as you can find – in a good way, of course. Just a lot of smart people getting together and sharing tech ideas / resources. I always learn so much and meet so many cool folks.
(Cody, my marketing boss at ESSDACK, would want me to mention our own very nerdy tech conference called Podstock. He would want me to let you know that Podstock is July 16-18 at the Old Town Conference Center in Wichita. He would also want me to share that early registration with a $50 discount ends June 1 and that the pre-conference is already about 75% full.
But it seems a bit weird to share information about our tech conference while I’m attending another tech conference, so I’ll probably just tell Cody that I did talk about Podstock held in Wichita on July 16-18 and hope he buys it.)
So the focus here is on the great sessions I get to attend and the ideas that I run across. I’ll share as much as can. Have fun! Read more