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Posts tagged ‘social studies’

What would you say to your Senator?

I get the chance this week to spend time with some pretty amazing people. Michelle Herczog. Peggy Jackson. Kim O’Neil. All leaders of the National Council for the Social Studies Board of Directors. And almost 30 other social studies educators from around the country representing state level councils.

We’re meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss ways to support classroom teachers and to advocate for the Social Studies at the local, state, and federal level. Good times. Seriously. I mean, how often does someone like me get the chance to hang out with the movers and shakers of the social studies world? These are all excellent classroom teachers, committed to social studies, and history geeks like me. So I’m loving it.

We’ve had formal and informal conversations about all sorts of stuff and will continue those conversations through tomorrow. But one of the main reasons we’re here is to chat with representatives from the House and Senate, urging continued support for the teaching of high-quality social studies across the country.

Later today, Read more

Moo, moo says the cow. Create everyday heros with Heifer International

Yes. I did get samples of their free stuff in the mail today. Yes. It was probably a bribe to get me to post something online. Yes. I’m okay with that.

Cause the work done by Heifer International is pretty amazing. If you aren’t familiar with Heifer International, it’s a non-profit that focuses on self-reliance and sustainable. And they do this in a very unique way: Read more

CCSSO chickens out. C3 framework work moves to NCSS

Okay. Chicken out may a bit harsh. But it’s a bit unsettling when the most well known organization drops out of the national social studies standards creation gig.

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a short piece concerning the difficulties involved with the creation of a national set of social studies standards. At the time, I was convinced that it would be difficult to create such a document. There would be just too many problems to overcome – the two biggest being that there would likely be a focus on easily measured specific content and no way for 50 different states to agree on what that content would be.

I was hoping for a focus instead on process and thinking skills rather than

 just a very long laundry list of specifics without any concern for thinking skills. So maybe . . . if the focus is on using information rather than on just a long list of dead guys without context.

What happened, of course, is that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) folks finished off the ELA and math documents, leaving the social studies work to continue in a sort of double-secret probation mode. Eventually much of the that secret work was finished and we were given a preview of the final social studies document last November.

It was just a teaser but it was enough to let us know that the final document would not include any real content but would instead focus on process and thinking skills. And it supported the work we had been doing in Kansas to re-write our state standards. So . . . cool.

The rough draft (also found  here) of the final national document, the Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards, came out earlier this spring. Some will be disappointed in the lack of specific content indicators but I like the direction the document is leading the discipline. Encourage high levels of doing and thinking while allowing local states and districts to create their own set of actual content.

So I’m not sure Read more

Doing Social Studies: One more blog about what we love

Do we need another blog about social studies? I mean, there’s got to be hundreds, maybe thousands of blogs that talk about social studies. And almost all of them are very good.

I’m a little biased, of course. I like this one. It’s been around since January 2008 and so I’m kind of invested. But I do think there is room for another social studies blog – the more conversations we have about what we do and how we do it the better.

So.

A new blog.

Titled Doing Social Studies and maintained by the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, the site is a place Read more

7 sweet social studies iPad apps I just learned about

I spent yesterday with a whole bunch of excellent K-12 social studies teachers – discussing how we can integrate iPads into instruction. I shared some ideas. They shared some ideas. We did some app throwdowns and as a result, I learned about some sweet apps that I had not heard about before.

I promised the group that I would share out the best stuff so . . . here it is, a list of seven sweet social studies apps that I just learned about:

Read more

Social studies in the age of Siri

Twenty years ago if I had asked a kid who the 16th president was, I would have likely gotten a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. Ditto with stuff like the capital of Idaho, when the 14th Amendment was passed, and where the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

The shrugging of shoulders was mostly my fault. I taught in a very traditional style, with my focus on basic content. This method encouraged the memorization of a few facts just long enough to pass the unit test.

I didn’t know any better – it was the way I was taught and it was the way I was taught to teach. In that sort of classroom, long term retention and actual application of knowledge just weren’t going to happen.

We know better now.

Realistic problems. Collaboration. Analyzing evidence. Creation of authentic products. Integration of fiction and non-fiction. Use of technology. Formative assessment.

This is 21st century social studies.

Read more

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