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Posts from the ‘elementary’ Category

Notable Books, Notable Lessons: Putting social studies back into K-8

Full confession.

Elementary kids freak me out. They’re sticky. They smell funny. And they throw up. All the time. Seriously. All the time. Every day.

My wife teaches elementary kids. She. Is. A. Saint. And she tells me that her kids don’t throw up every day. I want to believe her but I’m not convinced.

The point? I could never teach elementary kids. But somebody needs to teach them social studies skills, concepts, and content. Without a strong social studies foundation in the early grades, it becomes more difficult to build strong historical thinking skills and content knowledge in middle and high school.

So if you teach K-8, or know someone who does, this book is designed just for you: Read more

Where have you been all my life Structure Strips!?

I’ve been spending some serious amounts of time this summer leading conversations around the country focused on the integration of social studies and literacy. And for the last few years, I’ve had the chance to work with the Kansas Department of Education and Kansas teachers as we rolled out our revised state standards and assessments – both of which concentrate on finding ways for kids to read, write, and communicate in the discipline.

So while I am not some super duper ELA expert, I did think that I knew a little something about literacy tools. But last Thursday was a great wakeup call that there is always something new to learn.

Structure strips, where have you been hiding? Read more

Crop It: hands on primary source analysis strategy

I’ve had the chance over the last few weeks to spend a lot of time working with both elementary and secondary teachers on effective uses of primary sources. Together, we shared a wide variety of both digital and paper / pencil strategies that support historical thinking.

One of the easiest but most effective strategies is called Crop It. In some ways, it’s a lot like my Evidence Analysis Window Frame but I really like the flexibility embedded in the Crop It idea. The idea is pretty simple: students use L-shaped paper “cropping” tools to explore a visual or textual primary source.

One of the problems that we often face is finding ways to help students see details – and to make sense of the those details – when viewing a primary source. Photos, paintings, and graphics can contain a ton of specifics that get missed if students don’t take the time to look for them.

Crop It slows this process down so that students scan a source at a deep level and think about what they’re looking at. It gives them a way to find evidence, see multiple viewpoints, and gain a more detailed understanding of a primary source.

This strategy works especially well with elementary and middle school students to help them develop and support historical thinking. And the cool thing is that you can use it with all sorts of visual sources.

Step One:

Read more

Tip of the Week: 8 great elementary social studies teaching ideas and one great conference

It seems like a natural fit. Combine social studies content such as early American colonies with important ELA skills such as close reading and writing to support a claim. Great secondary social studies teachers have been doing this sort of thing forever. Create an engaging question. Encourage the use and analysis of primary, secondary, and literary sources. Provide print and digital tools for the creation of solutions to the question.

But for elementary teachers, this process can seem intimidating. And time-consuming. And confusing. For years, NCLB encouraged a focus on math and ELA. Social studies found itself on the fringes of most elementary building schedules. So most K-6 teachers, many without a strong background in social studies and without the support for finding ways to integrate social studies into their instruction, have been doing very little with the discipline.

That’s changing. Current state and national standards in both ELA and social studies are now asking grade schools to shift their instructional model. Common Core literacy standards for history and government are encouraging the use of social studies content as the vehicle for developing reading, writing, and speaking skills.

That’s the good thing. The bad thing? Read more

Tip of the Week: 10 Primary Source Integration Ideas from the Library of Congress (Part Deux)

Three years ago, Mary J. Johnson, an educational consultant to the Library of Congress, created a two part article on the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog highlighting primary source integration strategies. The first post of the two-part series offered ten suggestions for filling your room with engaging primary sources. I’ve adapted her second post highlighting ways that primary sources promote systematic critical thinking and posted it below. These are starting points for you to adapt for your own grade level and content area.

The point? That the Library of Congress needs to be one of your go-tos, must use, constant companion tool of choice.

(And when you’re done here, be sure to head over and bookmark the excellent LOC blog Teaching with the Library of Congress.) Read more

#nche2016: Using the story of Angel Island to build elementary historical thinking skills

One of the cool things that is happening around the country is that more and more elementary classrooms are focusing on integrating history into their instruction. But there are always questions about what this can look like. During this session, Lisa Hutton from California State University, Dominguez Hills shared some ideas of things teachers can do to support historical thinking skills with grade school kids.

The idea? Use foundational knowledge / specific historical events to build the historical thinking and literacy skills. She used the engaging and powerful story of Pacific and Asian immigrants during the early 1900s who transitioned through Angel Island off the coast of California.

Lisa started with her historical inquiry process model: Read more