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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?

Continuity and Change: Why Historical Thinking is More Relevant Than Ever by a couple of teachers from Wichita, Tiffany Houle and Paul Kitchen. They start off on a good foot with me by asking us to do a Tweet Write – responding to a prompt.

How is life, learning, and society different in the 21st century?

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Paul and Tiffany shared some cool stuff that Don Gifford from the Kansas Department of Ed has posted online to support integration of the new state standards. Part of those materials is something that I really like that he calls LIFESkills – this provides a nice justification for why we should be using the new standards.

The state standards document:

  • Liberates teachers from specific  content and to being creative and innovative
  • Intentional integration withing the HCSS disciplines and other curricular areas
  • Formative assessment – ongoing process of teaching, learning, and feedback
  • Encourage and empower students (using the raw materials of the disciplines)
  • Skills, standards, and benchmarks are taught using the content of the disciplines

They also shared some of the stuff that Bruce Lesh has put together to help kids make sense of the historical thinking process. But what I like is that they added an extra piece called “pretext.”


  • Text
    The sentence / paragraph / document itself.
  • Pretext
    The valid basis for the sentence, from previous events and experience.
  • Context
    How does the sentence apply to the specific, current factors of this situation?
  • Subtext
    What is not said? What is below the surface? What is soft, vague, or hard to quantify?

Get all of Paul and Tiffany’s stuff here. Be sure to check out their “Celebration of Learning” – their test. Pretty cool!


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