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Posts tagged ‘strategies’

Tip of the Week: Seven Social Studies Strategies for Back to School

Yup. It’s that time of year already. The annual Back to School Ideas in a Social Studies Classroom post. And I know some are already back in the classroom but most of you crank up this week or next.

So. Here ya go.

Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Add your own ideas in the comments.

What not to do

Before we get going with what we know works, it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t. Read more

Social Studies Scent-O-Matic. Yes!

I have been waiting for this for so long. I know some of you have done the same thing – striking a bunch of matches, blowing them out, and letting the smoke waft through the room during conversations about battles or battle sims.

Because we know how powerful the sense of smell can be in connecting emotion and content. And when we can connect emotion and content, retention goes up. Comprehension goes up. But in today’s world of smoke alarms, lighting a box of matches in your classroom is probably not a good idea.

So you can imagine how cool it was when I ran across the Scent-O-Matic. Seriously. A company that lets you order a can of smells specific to a historical period or topic. I am loving this! Read more

Tip of the Week: 5 ways to start the year

I hate to be the one to bring this up but . . . mmm . . . school starts soon. I know many of you are going back to classrooms next week with kids making their appearance soon after. And it’s always nice to have a few tips and tricks in your backpack to start off the school year. What discipline-specific activities work best for kicking off the year?

So today? The fifth annual Five Ways to Start the School Year in a Social Studies Classroom post. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Add your own ideas in the comments. Read more

Cool College, Career, and Civic Life website for teachers

Last fall, the National Council for the Social Studies published the Social Studies for the Next Generation: Purposes, Practices, and Implications of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. It’s a mouthful.

The goal was always to create a sort of model for states as they wrote their own state standards –  a guiding document that provides a clear structure for the type of social studies instruction that we all know is good for kids.

. . . the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

Capt Barbossa
Pirates of the Caribbean

And I’ve talked about this a ton – we were writing our state standards at about the same time that the NCSS was finishing up its work. The good news? We’re a lot alike. The focus is on the process of social studies rather than the specific content of social studies.

We want kids to be historical thinkers, solvers of problems, users of evidence  . . . people who can address an un-Googleable question and make sense of it.

I really like them.

But many social studies teachers are still not aware that they exist. And the teachers who are aware of them are quite sure what to do with them. More good news. Read more

Tip of the Week: Black History Month Resources 2014

Okay. I gotta be honest.

Much of what you are about to read is a year old. My thinking hasn’t changed much since February 2013 and well . . . I’m not sure I could write it a whole lot better anyway. So the message and much of the text is the same. The resources are updated.



To be honest, I’m a bit torn about the whole idea of Black History Month. The concept started back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

The hope was that the week would eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history teaching. In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The hope was that essential people, events, and places, routinely ignored, would be incorporated throughout the school year as part of social studies instruction.

But I’m torn. Read more

Tip of the Week: C4 Framework and Free Stuff

After years of sitting on the margins of instructional practice, social studies is getting a makeover. The Common Core is calling for the teaching of literacy through the integration of fiction and non-fiction into our instruction. In August 2013, the National Council for the Social Studies published the complementary College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

Both the Common Core and College, Career, and Civic Life standards support a different approach to teaching and learning social studies than what we saw as part of No Child Left Behind. Instead of focusing on memorizing specific content measured by multiple choice tests, students are now being asked to do social studies – to think historically, to solve problems, to read, write, and communicate. As teachers, we are being asked to find a balance between foundational knowledge and the authentic use of that knowledge.

But it can be difficult. What does that balance look like in actual practice?

To help you, we came up with something that we’re calling

the C4 Framework. Read more