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Posts tagged ‘standards’

Nerdfest 2015 Day Three: New York State Social Studies Toolkit

For too long, state standards have encouraged social studies teachers and students to simply focus on the memorization of foundational knowledge. The pendulum is swinging back to quality instruction focused on the development of historical thinking skills.

This is a good thing. But it can also be a bit intimidating and discouraging. I often hear from teachers asking what this sort of instruction should look like. What resources should they use? Where can they find resources? How long should a unit last? How can this type of learning be assessed?

The answers to those questions just got easier thanks to the great state of New York. Over the last few years, teachers in New York have worked to create what they are calling the Toolkit. Made up of 84 different Inquiries across multiple grade levels, the Toolkit provides specifics about what the historical thinking can look like in your classroom.

The Toolkit is designed Read more

College, Career and Civic Life standards webinars

Okay. Let’s be honest. Sitting through most live webinars is almost never a good time. Usually stuff you might find somewhere else. Simple talking heads. Poor production quality. Sitting through an archived webinar is only marginally better – for no other reason than you can fast forward through it.

But . . . there are some that are useful and practical – even if some of those other things are present. The NCSS C3 Framework webinar series is one of those.

The College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards was developed to serve two audiences: for states to upgrade their state social studies standards and for practitioners — local school districts, schools, teachers and curriculum writers — to strengthen their social studies programs.

The objectives of the Framework are to: Read more

NCSS offers online Teachers’ Library – tons o’ resources

The National Council for the Social Studies is a leader in promoting high-quality instruction and learning in the discipline. They provide a wide range of resources and tools for teachers including national standards, trade book suggestions, and professional development.

NCSS also has a Teachers’ Library with a collection of classroom activities, teaching ideas, and articles from Social Education, Middle Level Learning, and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Browse the collection by selecting historical period and grade level: Read more

StoryCorps, oral history, and Thanksgiving

October 30, 2015

You might find this YouTube video useful as you and your kids conduct your interviews. Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, provides some specific interviewing tips. It’s a great resource!


I’ve been on the road quite a bit over the last few months and staying alert during long car rides was becoming a problem. Enter the technology. Both my kids suggested I check out the NPR RadioLab podcast, an incredibly interesting collection of incredibly eclectic topics. I listened to stories about the history of football with a focus on the Indian school in Carlisle PA to using forest fires as a way of increasing bird populations to POW camps holding captured Germans in the US to how Mel Blanc was brought out of a coma by an impression of Bugs Bunny.

Seriously. RadioLab is awesome stuff.

But that got me looking around for other things to listen to. Which led my to another  excellent NPR audio program called StoryCorps. Read more

SHEG lessons & assessments aligned by grade and standards

Many of you are already aware of the Stanford History Education Group’s fantastic resources called Reading Like a Historian and Beyond the Bubble. If you’re not, you need to be.

Using his own ideas and research on what historical thinking looks like, Sam Wineburg and his staff created some incredibly useful lessons and assessments and started giving them away for free. Good stuff.

Each lesson starts with a compelling question, provides primary evidence, and asks students to use historical thinking skills to solve the problem. This sort of work is exactly what our state standards and what the National Council for the Social Studies encourages.

As more teachers are using the tools, one thing they’re asking is how the SHEG lessons and assessments fit into specific grade levels and Common Core literacy levels.

And now thanks to the Los Angeles school district, your wish has come true. Read more

300 sample compelling questions for the social studies

I had the chance last week to spend a very fun afternoon with an energetic group of elementary teachers. I always enjoy chatting with K-6 folks. (I just don’t know how they get up every morning and keep going back. Because, seriously . . . grade school kids freak me out. They smell funny, they always seem to be sticky for some reason, and they throw up at the most awkward moments. So God bless anyone willing to spend all day, every day with anybody under the age of 12.) Part of our conversation centered around planning different units in a year long scope and sequence at various grade levels. And some of the discussion revolved around possible essential / compelling questions that might anchor each of those units. I don’t get the chance to have these kinds of discussions with K-6 people much – when I do, it’s always a good time. Once they start rolling, it’s hard to get them to slow down. We started with the basics:

What does a good compelling question look like?

And quickly moved on to the one that they really wanted to know:

Where can we find some already created?

Just a reminder. This is not just K-6. Compelling questions are something all of us need to be incorporating into unit and lesson designs. So . . . what do they look like? A great place to start is with the College, Career, and Civic Life document from the National Council for the Social Studies. The document does a great job of articulating the importance of a robust compelling question: Read more


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