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Posts tagged ‘standards’

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

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

Cool College, Career, and Civic Life website for teachers

Last fall, the National Council for the Social Studies published the Social Studies for the Next Generation: Purposes, Practices, and Implications of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. It’s a mouthful.

The goal was always to create a sort of model for states as they wrote their own state standards –  a guiding document that provides a clear structure for the type of social studies instruction that we all know is good for kids.

. . . the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

Capt Barbossa
Pirates of the Caribbean

And I’ve talked about this a ton – we were writing our state standards at about the same time that the NCSS was finishing up its work. The good news? We’re a lot alike. The focus is on the process of social studies rather than the specific content of social studies.

We want kids to be historical thinkers, solvers of problems, users of evidence  . . . people who can address an un-Googleable question and make sense of it.

I really like them.

But many social studies teachers are still not aware that they exist. And the teachers who are aware of them are quite sure what to do with them. More good news. Read more

Tip of the Week: I Just Fell in Love with Storehouse

The way that we communicate with one another, the way that we teach, and the way that our kids learn is becoming increasingly visual. Our brains are hardwired to focus on things beyond just text. And we now have tools, including mobile tools, that can help us take advantage of that brain hard-wiring.

And over the last few weeks, teachers and I have been messing with a variety of mobile tools that focus on visual storytelling. Including my new favorite iPad app.

Read more

The 10,000 hour myth and the value of intentional instruction

I like Malcolm Gladwell’s stuff. I especially liked his book, Outliers: The Story of Success. In Outliers, Gladwell addresses the question of what makes high-achievers successful. And he cites some of the research by Anders Ericsson demonstrating that to become an expert at something, a person needs to devote 10,000 hours practicing and working on that one thing.

Gladwell made the idea seem plausible. Even doable. And it sounds like a great idea. Work hard at something long enough and you get good at it. Even great at it.

But a recent book by Daniel Goleman debunks the 10,000 hour “mythology” and suggests a more complex truth behind Gladwell’s simplistic take on the theory. In Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, Goldman says the 10,000 hour idea is only half true. Read more

Evidence-based terms in social studies

As we move into a social studies world that is asking kids to collect evidence, organize evidence, create products, and communicate results, writing skills are becoming more and more important.

But for the last ten years or so, at least in the state of Kansas, we’ve asked kids to focus instead on memorizing content. So now when we’re asking our middle school and high school students to not just write more but to use evidence while proving assertions, we get a lot of blank stares.

My suggestion? Read more

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