The Kansas state social studies standards are designed to “prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, engaged citizens as they enrich their communities, state, nation, world, and themselves.” Different benchmarks under each of the standards require that students make connections between the past and contemporary issues.
The recent Kansans Can Vision developed by the Department of Ed is pushing schools throughout the state to focus on authentic civic engagement and integrate it across grades and content areas.
I’m sure that you have similar sorts of standards and expectations where you teach.
It’s pretty simple really. When kids are informed and thoughtful, when they understand the necessity for being civically engaged, and when they actually put into practice the ideas outlined in the founding documents, our communities and our country are a better place.
And now . . . we have the recent events in Charlottesville.
Your task as a social studies teacher has never been easy. Connecting past to present can make it harder. Conversations about race and violence harder still. It can be easy to just wait for things to blow over. But if we truly believe that what we do makes a difference, those conversations need to happen.
What can that sort of conversation look like?
The words of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are a good place to start: Read more
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
August Fourth!? Seriously? August already?
I had noticed that it had warmed up and that summer was in full swing. But already the start of school?
I spent a few days in Georgia leading some conversations around literacy in the social studies and they started with kids last week. So for them, this post is ten days too late. But I’m hoping that for most of you, there are a few days before your first contact day.
And to help jumpstart your first awesome week, here are seven great ways to kick off the year. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. And be sure to add your own ideas in the comments. Read more
When you buy your ticket to the Dunkirk – and you know you will – make sure that it’s to an iMax theater.
Because this is the type of movie that will kick you in the butt no matter what kind of screen you see it on so you might as well go all in with the super big surround screen. Christopher Nolan shoot the film with the iMax format in mind and it shows.
Dunkirk is an incredibly visually and emotionally compelling story that highlights an event that we as Americans rarely think about. I’ve always been a fan of using visuals and multimedia to help create emotional connections in the brains of students. Especially a story like Dunkirk that can help kids connect with our content.
So how might you use Dunkirk and other movies as part of your instructional strategy? Read more
Using drama, reader’s theater, and role playing has always been a go-to strategy for social studies teachers.
These tools can have a powerful impact on learning but they need to be used wisely and carefully. If we don’t intentionally think about how and why we incorporate these tools into our instruction, things can go quickly askew. The people at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History can help with that.
In a recent post titled How (Not) To Teach With Drama, Naomi Coquillon shares a few guidelines and recommendations for classroom educators on using theater in history teaching. Together Naomi’s suggestions together with the companion post, Teaching with Drama, for full effect.
Get the full details at the O Say Can You See page but get a few spoilers before heading out: Read more
I’ve been spending a ton of time this summer working with groups around the country, helping facilitate conversations around reading and writing in the social studies.
It’s always a good day when I get the chance to sit with social studies teachers, sharing ideas and best practice, talking about works and what doesn’t. And the cool thing is that I always walk away smarter because teachers are super cool about sharing their favorite web site or tool or handy strategy.
This week was no different. I learned about a simple but powerful summarizing strategy called Somebody Wanted But So.
Summarizing is a skill that I think we sometimes take for granted. We ask our kids to read or watch something and expect them to just be able to remember the content and apply it later during other learning activities. We can easily get caught up in the Curse of Knowledge, assuming that because we know how to summarize and organize information, everyone does too.
But our students often need Read more