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Posts tagged ‘kansas history’

NCHE Session IV – Read Kansas cards and lessons

I started the day picking on the NCHE “history nerds” a bit and how they love cranking up their conference way too early. I’m not making fun anymore. This is becoming a long day. Two more sessions and a quick run through the vendor area before things wrap up.

But it’s a good kind of tired.

And two of my favorite people are hosting a session so I’m off to Ballroom Pershing South and Kansas Read cards with Mary Madden and Marcia Fox. Mary and Marcia are from the Kansas State Historical Society. They have been instrumental in creating and distributing 76 different lessons for K-12 students.

The cards are designed to deeply engage kids in primary and secondary sources, historical thinking skills, and cooperative learning. And they are awesome.

Just so you know – Read Kansas cards are written to help Kansas teachers teach Kansas history. But . . . because there are so many historical periods, events, and people that are really national events (John Brown, Bleeding Kansas, Indian Removal Act, Brown v. Board) the Read Kansas cards can be used by just about everyone.

You can purchase the cards and get sweet, full color laminated sets. Or download PDF black and white versions for free. Either way you get great lessons aligned with state standards and the Common Core.

Fiction, poetry, and teaching history

I watch the wagon
until I see nothing on the open plain.
For the first time ever,
I am alone.

May B

I am a huge believer in having kids read and write as much as possible while in history class. And one of the best ways to engage kids is to have them read fiction, especially poetry and verse.

One of the best examples of historical fiction in a poetry format is Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Out of the Dust is an incredible story that sucks in middle school readers as it describes the life of 14-year -old Billie Jo in Dust Bowl Oklahoma.

If you’re a bit unsure about how to incorporate this poetry book into your class, use supporting materials such as Literature Guide: Out of the Dust or A Guide for Using Out of the Dust in the Classroom. Another great way to integrate Out of the Dust is to have kids compare and contrast the historical fiction content with a non-fiction book such as Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp.

But Out of the Dust is not alone anymore.

A recent book by Caroline Starr Rose titled May B also does an excellent job of capturing the emotions of history students. While Out of the Dust spends its time in the 1930s, May B focuses on the late 1800s Kansas prairie and helps provide a rich context to the Western movement.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s homestead—just until Christmas, her pa promises. But a terrible turn of events leaves her all alone and she must try to find food and fuel—and courage—to make it through the approaching winter.

It seemed like a great book for any class studying regions, Kansas History, and US History. But I needed an expert. So I asked my wife, an experienced elementary/middle level teacher, for her opinion.

I loved May B. The writing is vivid and beautiful. It captures the severe and sometimes terrible beauty of the Kansas prairies but also beautifully portrays a girl struggling to embrace who she is. This middle level book shares what life was like during this period in Kansas history and is captivating to the end. It would be perfect for reading aloud in class, perfect for grades 4-8, and perfect for a family to enjoy together.

The author has created a handy teacher’s guide helpful for integrating the book and its content into your class.

I’m curious. What other poetry and verse historical fiction are we missing? What do you use?

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New Kansas State Historical Society Goodies on Kansas Day

Mary Madden and Marcia Fox are two of my favorite people.

If you don’t already know, Mary is the Director of the Education Division at the Kansas State Historical Society and Marcia is the Curriculum Specialist. And they do incredible stuff.

They are incredibly passionate about Kansas history and helping teachers integrate high-quality lesson design. Plus . . . they give me free stuff.

I mean, what’s not to like?

Just yesterday, Mary passed on a copy of the very cool Notable Events in Kansas History. The booklet highlights the 12 most important events in Kansas history as selected by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Kansas History. The panel met as part of the state’s year-long 150th birthday celebration.

The book has a couple of pages of description for each event, photos, a primary source document, essential question and a quick summary of that event’s impact on Kansas and the United States.

Perfect for all grades, you can get a copy at the KSHS store.

The 12 Events?

September 1, 1821 – First party leaves Missouri headed for Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail. This event was the official opening of the Santa Fe Trail. Overland trails helped the nation expand to new territories and initiate trade with neighboring countries.

November 4, 1838 – Potawatomi Trail of Death ends in Kansas. Under the Indian Removal Act, 859 Potawatomi people were forced to walk more than 600 miles to Kansas. As many as 90 different tribes were removed to Kansas in the mid-19th century, and hundreds of native people lost their lives during their first few years here.

May 30, 1854 – Kansas-Nebraska Act signed into law by U.S. President Franklin Pierce. This opened Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory for settlement and allowed voters to decide whether Kansas would be a free state or allow slavery, and led to a violent time period known as Bleeding Kansas.

February 11, 1859 – The Santa Fe Railway is chartered by Kansas Territorial Legislature. The railroads connected Kansas to the East and the West, bringing new settlers, and determining where cities and towns were built.

July 5, 1859 – Women’s rights included in discussions of Wyandotte Constitution. This was the first of several steps that would eventually give women full voting rights and the right to own property.

March 5, 1862 – The Kansas Legislature formed the Kansas Agricultural Society. These organizations encouraged farmers to grow winter wheat, creating the “bread basket of the world.”

September 5, 1867 – The first load of cattle to be shipped via rail from Kansas. Organized by Joseph McCoy, Abilene became the first of several cowtowns, emerged along the cattle trails and helped create the beef industry in Kansas.

January 1, 1881 – Kansas adopts prohibition as part of the state’s constitution. Kansas was the first state to do so. Carry Nation became known around the world for her support of the prohibition laws.

January 26, 1925 – Travel Air Manufacturing Company established. Owners Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech, and Lloyd Stearman created the “air capital of the world” in Wichita. The companies they created continue today.

April 14, 1935 – A massive front darkens the entire Midwest in clouds of dust on Black Sunday. The Dust Bowl was devastating to farmers across the plains and they eventually changed their farming practices.

April 1, 1938 – Rural electrification reaches Kansas. This allowed Kansas farms to have the same technology, like sewing machines and milk machines, as cities across the nation.

May 17, 1954 – The U.S. Supreme Court announces its unanimous ruling on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This landmark decision determined that separate but equal was inherently unequal, and helped launch the Civil Rights Movement.

As famous Kansan William Allen White said:

For things start in Kansas that finish in history.

Seriously. Get the book. You’ll be a better teacher and your kids will be tons smarter.

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Tip of the Week – Kid’s Kansas Activity Book

I love the Kansas State Historical Society! They have awesome stuff and Mary Madden, the Education & Outreach Director, works very hard to make that stuff available.

The most recent KSHS cool stuff is a book designed especially for elementary kids but is something I think even middle schools kids could use.

The 44-page full-color book is filled with photos, puzzles, games and Kansas stories. From stories about early explorers such as Coronado, Lewis, and Clark to modern innovators and entrepreneurs such as Jack Kilby and Russell and Clara Stover, Kid’s Kansas helps students discover their connection to Kansas’ past—and future!

Use Kid’s Kansas in your elementary classroom throughout the year, or save it for your Kansas Day activities in January. With sticker pages, a tear-out sheet of famous Kansan trading cards, and tear-out Kansas and United States flags, Kid’s Kansas will keep your students engaged as they make a connection to their state’s heritage.

KSDE will begin distributing Kid’s Kansas in late September 2011. And, wait for it . . . if you are a Kansas 4th grade teacher, you are eligible for a free copy. Free.

To get your free copy, email

If you are not a 4th grade teacher (or even if you are) and want extra copies for your kids, download an order form. You can also download a sample of selected pages from Kid’s Kansas!

Have fun!

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Kansapedia – No brainer for Kansas teachers and pretty darn handy for the rest of you

I’ve always liked the Kansas State Historical Society. They’ve got a great museum, I did some of my graduate work deep in their archives and they pushed the completion of the best Kansas history textbook ever.

And lately, they’ve been doing some great stuff with digital and social media stuff. They started with Territorial Kansas, added Kansas Memory after that and recently added their latest contribution to the digital world – Kansapedia.

Modeled after the idea of online encyclopedias, Kansapedia is a treasure trove of well-written articles on a wide variety of subjects. For social studies teacher in Kansas, this is a no-brainer. You’ve got experts in Kansas history, geography, people and events sharing their expertise with your kids for free. Every kid’s computer in the state ought to have a Kansapedia shortcut on the desktop.

Read more

Eight History Wonders of Kansas

The Kansas Sampler Foundation’s mission

is to preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and by networking and supporting rural communities.

It does this in a variety of ways including a great state-wide contest that began several years ago. State residents were encouraged to vote for the 8 Wonders of Kansas from a larger list of potential sites.

Since then, the Foundation has sponsored additional Wonders contests with my favorite being the 8 Culinary Wonders of Kansas. Great BBQ, chicken, burger and steak restaurants from all over the state. And you’ll be happy to know that I’ve tried them all.

But I’ve got a new favorite. The current Wonders contest focuses on historical sites around the state with 24 finalists. There are the traditional sorts of things such as the many forts built throughout Kansas, museums focusing on the state tradition of airplane design / construction and sites showcasing cowboys and Indians.

But there are also some interesting nominations that highlight such things as Orphan Trains, the Brown vs. Board of Education case and Exodusters.

There is no real criteria so it’s gonna be tough to decide on just eight. But head over anyway and vote on your favorites.

You could use this in your Kansas history classes as a way to engage kids in the content by having kids vote as individuals or as a class. You could have kids rank them from most important to least important or place them on a timeline. Kids could select one of the finalists (or you could assign them), research their finalist and then campaign for class votes.

If you’re not from Kansas, you could create a similar contest within your class that focuses on specific historical sites and events within your own state.

Either way, head on over!

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