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You need this simple Google Doc of Social Studies skills goodness (and maybe this huge doc of competencies)

We are one day away from the release of the Kansas State Department of Education’s Navigating Change document. The document is currently in the hands of the state board of education for final approval and if they sign off on it, then we’ll all finally get to see it tomorrow.

Okay. Who am I kidding? After a draft version was released last week, I’m pretty sure half the state’s population has a copy. What I should have said is that tomorrow we’ll all get to see the official, final, approved version of the Navigating Change document.

If you’re not from around here, districts and teachers across the state of Kansas have been waiting since May for some direction about what school might look like this fall. The document is designed to go beyond simply providing suggestions for opening schools. It will also provide direction on what actual classroom instruction might look like in an environment that might include both face to face as well as remote learning.

The document is large. As in . . . 1100 pages large. It sounds like a lot. But almost of all it is made up of four different grade bands that contain a list of suggested competencies or skills that each kid should master before moving to the next grade band. And each list contains what are called Priority and Extended Competencies.

So when we look at the social studies / humanities 6-8 grade band section, we’re talking about maybe just three or four pages.

The idea is that as schools experience COVID-19 disruptions they can adapt instruction by focusing just on the Priority Competencies, rather than trying to cover every standard, every benchmark, all the content. The goal is to encourage competency based learning instead of simply covering a lot of basic foundational knowledge without any context.

It’s what people like Sam Wineburg have been preaching for years. We can’t just teach content. We have to balance that content with skills and processes. So this 1100 page document is really the exact sort of thing history and social studies teachers in Kansas need to be using.

But what can it look like in practice? This is what teachers really want.

Things like SHEG, the Inquiry Design Model, and Read Inquire Write can help. But I also want to let you in on a little something, a simple Google Doc created by Andrew Kozlowsky and Timothy Fuller a couple of years ago.

The Doc is a simple rubric matrix that can help you both design and measure the learning of social studies and historical thinking skills. It’s a great way to continue thinking about what quality social studies instruction can look like.

The cool thing is that Andrew and Timothy have also added Models and Tips. This is the hidden superpower of the documents, providing a wide variety of incredibly useful ideas and strategies for implementing lessons and units that support the learning of skills.

So even if you’re not teaching in Kansas, explore the 1100 page document. Cause your kids need a focus on skills and process too. Dig down to find the competencies and assessment that might help as you plan instruction in a very fluid learning environment next fall.

And dig into the document from Andrew and Timothy.

Because in the world we’re navigating right now, we can use all the help we can get.

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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Speaking and Consulting page.

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