Using a pie to teach historical thinking

Okay. Not an actual pie. Though that would be awesome!

But I did learn this very easy but very cool Pie Chart strategy from Nathan McAlister, 2010 Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year. It’s a great hook activity that’s awesome for either starting a conversation about a specific topic or as an assessment at the end of learning.

To use as a hook activity: Continue reading

A Very Cool Website & Some Fun Ideas

I teach my methods students here at KSU to “constantly think about teaching.”  To do this, we always look for things to use even for small parts of lessons.  A picture to promote thinking, a quote to start a conversation, a primary source to investigate, all of these are ways to promote learning.  I happened to find a website the other night at class at the suggestions of Dr. John Harrington and Ms. Lisa Tabor who were presenting on geography…

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Socrates, Plato, and Noble Puppies

We are fortunate to have another guest post from our KSDE Social Studies Consultant, Mr. Don Gifford.  Enjoy!

(And don’t forget to comment on the Flags post to win your own classroom flag.)


When I was young, I really couldn’t read philosophy partly because they used really old language, really big words, and mostly because I knew so little about the world and of thinking about it. But recently I have returned to reading some of the classic works of political philosophy and ran across the description of Socrates’ ideas about education in Plato’s Republic.

In my role as an educational program consultant for the Kansas State Department of Education, I was intrigued with the education of what Socrates calls the “guardian class.”

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Trading Cards, ReadWriteThink, and the Common Core

trading card 1We’ve always asked our kids to read. Informational text. Primary sources. Non-fiction. Fiction. Poetry. We’ve always asked our kids to write. Summaries. Research. Reviews. Reaction papers.

At least, that’s been the theory. Good social studies and history instruction has always included these things but I think that sometimes we can forget how critical reading and writing skills are to what we do. The Common Core, for better or worse, has been a good reminder for us. We need to have our kids read, write, and communicate much more.

The problem for many of us?

Uh . . . what does that look like again?

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Tools 4 Students

I promise I’m not going to spend the whole blog using text language!  Tools 4 Students and Tools 4 Students 2 are actually the names of a great app that I use in my classroom to get students working with technology and cutting down on the amount of time that I have to spend in front of a copy machine.

Between the two versions of this app there are 50 different graphic organizers that are both premade and editable for teachers and students to create their own.  Continue reading