KCSS Winter Newsletter

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.24.28 PMIt’s been a busy semester. Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away and then it’s just a few weeks to holiday break. And between the start of school and now, we’ve all been busy.

Catch up on some of the details with the KCSS Sunflower Newsletter Winter Edition. Need a few teasers?

  • Update on the 2015 Judy Cromwell Teacher of the Year winners
  • State conference presentation resources
  • Links to cool tools like HSTRY and The New Immigrants
  • Summer 2016 learning opportunities

Have a great break!

Stop! In the Name of…Writing?

stoplight2In an effort to improve the writing skills of my students and better prepare them for the Kansas Writing Assessment, the Multidisciplinary Performance Task, I have begun implementing the Stoplight Writing strategy.  I attempted to use this strategy in my classroom last year, but as a last ditch effort before the test rather than a regular activity the students experienced throughout the entire school year.

This year however, my students are writing every unit using stoplight writing, and the dramatic difference in the finished products from last year to this year are extraordinary.  Last year I feared that my 7th grade students didn’t know how to write a complete sentence, this year I am finding that my expectations for the students are too low and every unit I raise the standards for their finished work. Continue reading Stop! In the Name of…Writing?

It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 1)

imgresHoly Google!  Have you gotten the opportunity to start using all of the amazing Google resources in your classroom yet?  I am kicking myself for not implementing these tools in my classroom earlier, and I haven’t even been teaching for very long!  I want to take the opportunity to share a few very short and quick strategies with you that I have used in my classroom and that are very simple to implement in any classroom, and are also very quick and easy.

Trust me. I know what most of you think when you hear about a new piece of amazing technology that you can use in the classroom – a used car salesman probably comes to mind when I start talking and you immediately want to tune me out.  I also know what it is like to get information overload on new strategies and then forget about them two days later because it is impossible to use all of them in your room in the short window of time you have before you information overload again at the next inservice day.

The great thing about these Google resources is they are something that you can create in five to ten minutes and they can be used immediately in your classroom!  It is seriously a very good thing that my plan period is 1st hour because I am planning and creating Google activities the day I teach them on a weekly basis. Nothing says professional teacher quite like procrastination!

First, I want to introduce you to one of the ways that I use Google Forms in my classroom. Continue reading It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 1)

Kansas Social Studies Conference

Conference Logo

The 2015 Kansas Social Studies Conference began with an opening assembly hosted by Don Gifford and Suzy Myers from the Kansas Department of Education  to fit with the theme of Integrating History and ELA.  Don started his presentation by introducing us to his self proclaimed “man crush” Alexander Hamilton.

Don suggested that “Hamilton wrote himself out of poverty and into the history books.” He continued by suggesting that we need to encourage reading and writing skills in our classrooms. Suzy then asked us to consider what prevents us from making literacy, especially writing,  a central activity in our daily lessons.  Research shows that colleges and employers are able to identify reading and writing deficiencies in the classroom and the job place, so why are we not doing more to prevent this?

As educators we should redefine what we consider writing, use meaningful collaboration between social studies and English teachers, and model for our students the transfer of knowledge between content areas by applying grammar in the social studies classroom and content in the English classroom.

Continue reading Kansas Social Studies Conference

Hexagons? In History?

Students in Ms. Green's class using hexagons to refresh their memories and make connections to the curriculum.
Students in Ms. Green’s class using hexagons to refresh their memories and make connections.

I am trying to be more mindful of pulling my students’ learning through this year. You know, revisiting what they’ve already learned so it doesn’t fly out of their brains never to return (at least not to return until their high school American History teacher says they should have learned this in 8th grade and have to review it…).

I tried out a neat tool this week with my students that Glenn Wiebe showed the KCSS Executive Board over the summer. The ClassTools.net Hexagon Generator allows you to select up to 30 terms that will then be placed on little hexagons which you will then have the pleasure of cutting apart (good task for a student aide with time on her hands, wish I had one).

With only three days this week due to Parent-Teacher Conferences I didn’t want to jump into something new before their long weekend, so I decided to roll out the hexagons. I used a mix of ideas, people and events that we’ve covered since the beginning of the year. Each table got a set and my directions – if the terms on their hexagon have a connection they can touch, but for each side that touches there has to be a connection. Continue reading Hexagons? In History?