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Posts tagged ‘lesson plans’

You want kids to have skills. Read Inquire Write can help.

Last week, I got the chance to work with about 25 teachers and educators from around the state as we started the process of revising our state social studies standards. Long time readers will recall a similar process from seven years ago.

At the time, the Kansas state standards were very much the same as other state level standards documents. The focus was on the details of history – people and places and dates. Assessments tried to incorporate critical thinking but since the entire test was multiple choice, it was difficult to measure high levels of thinking and problem solving.

To be successful on this type of high stakes state assessment, teachers shifted to a drill and kill,  memorize specific pieces of content out of context instructional strategies. These strategies increased test scores but lowered student engagement, failed to create critical thinkers, and didn’t prepare kids to become informed citizens.

So we started from scratch.

The 2011 process resulted in a brand new set of standards that shifted instructional focus from memorizing details to one that encouraged analyzing evidence, solving problems, and sharing solutions. We created five big ideas that acted as our standards. We adapted reading, writing, and communication expectations and instruction best practices to guide local curriculum development. And we left the specific content up to each district.

Teachers appreciated the freedom to focus on the doing of social studies rather than asking kids to memorize minutiae. But this “new” style of teaching can be time consuming and difficult. The old standards had trained both our kids and our teachers that drill and kill was acceptable – now we were asking that instruction and assessment look different.

And teachers had questions. What does this sort of teaching look like? How do you assess the learning? How long should it take? If we don’t have to “cover”so much content, what content is important enough to focus on? What resources are available?

Back in 2013, as the revised document rolled out, there weren’t a ton of examples and resources out there that supported this kind of inquiry based teaching model. But around the country, others were having similar conversations:

Things got better.

And now, if you’re looking for examples, resources, lessons, student samples, and rubrics, things are looking even rosier. Read more

Not using DocsTeach!? We need to talk.

Okay. I know some of you are using DocsTeach.

And why not?

Using primary sources from its collection, the crack National Archives education staff has been creating and sharing quality lessons for eight years. The idea at DocsTeach is simple – provide high-quality lessons and activities based on primary sources and focused on building historical and critical thinking skills.

You can borrow from an ever-expanding collection of document based activities built by National Archives specialists and teachers around the world. Use or modify ready-made activities. Craft, save, and share your own using online tools like these:

  • Analyzing Documents
  • Zoom/Crop
  • Compare and Contrast
  • White Out/Black Out
  • Making Connections
  • Mapping History
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Weighing the Evidence

Whether you use the pre-made activities or creating your own, DocsTeach is perfect for classroom demos, small group or whole class work, and individual in-class or homework assignments. Your kids can return their work via your DocsTeach account, Google Classroom, or the DocsTeach App for iPad.

Did we mention that it’s free?

So . . . seriously. If you’re not using DocsTeach, you and I need to chat. Cause it’s awesome and Read more

Tip of the Week: Questions, tasks, and resources. Oh, my! Covering content using the C3 IDM

Our current state standards have been around since 2013. Centered on five Big Ideas and a balance between content and process, the document is unlike previous standards documents. And after five years, most Kansas teachers are at least aware that we’re asking them and students to approach teaching and learning differently.

That we want students to have both foundational knowledge and historical / critical thinking skills. That social studies classrooms need to be more than drill and kill, lecture, worksheet, quiz on Friday. And that creating engaged, informed, and knowledgable citizens requires more than rote memorization and low level thinking.

While our standards look and feel differently than most other state level documents, teachers across the country – like their colleagues here in Kansas – are also being asked to concentrate on training kids to do social studies. Sam Wineburg is a household name. The teaching of historical thinking skills such as Sourcing, Contextualizing, and Corroborating is becoming commonplace. Bruce Lesh and his History Labs are being duplicated by teachers in all sorts of classrooms. The National Council for the Social Studies has also been a huge part of this pendulum shift with its College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) standards.

Good things are happening.

But . . .

Yup. There’s always a but.

During every standards training I do, every historical thinking conversation I have with teachers, there’s always a but.  Read more

Tip of the Week: 7 Resources for the End of School

I know that many of you are just trying to survive the next few weeks so something short and sweet. Browse through this quick list of lessons and activities that might make your life a little easier:

Good luck and have fun!

 

Creating both great producers and consumers of information

I’m in snowy and snowing Minnesota at its annual Council for the Social Studies conference. We’re sheltered inside the state History Center – what better place for a bunch of social studies teachers?

First session is right up my alley. Strengthening democracy by training kids to be better users of social media and online tools. Jennifer Bloom from the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation is helping us create socially responsible and informed citizens. The Foundation hosts the Teaching Civics website – a cool place with over 800 lesson plans. They also have some handy ed resources.

As we get better at training kids to be engaged and informed citizens, she says Read more