What are you doing this summer?

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If you teach in a large enough district you likely have access to professional development in the social studies. If you teach in a smaller district, you may not have many opportunities outside the state social studies conference or training presented by one of our service centers. The good news for social studies educators is that what we may not be able to access during the school year can be found during the summer and quite often for free.

I have had the honor to participate in several summer programs and find that I come home invigorated from spending time with other outstanding educators. Not only do you expand your professional network, but you will get to see the places where history happened and be able to bring that back to your students in the most impactful ways.

Right now applications are available for any number of summer opportunities that last from a few days to three weeks. There are the ones you’re most likely to have heard of: Continue reading What are you doing this summer?

Start the New (Finish the School) Year Strong

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This week’s contribution comes from Kansas Council for the Social Studies secretary Lori Rice. She teaches 4th grade at Wamego West Elementary school and is the 2018-19 KSDE Social Studies Teacher of the Year.


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The time between the end of December and beginning of January is magical for teachers as schools across the state shut down for “WINTER BREAK”!! The alarms are shut off. The coffee is hot! And you may have even read a book that was simply for your own enjoyment or caught up on that Netflix/Hulu series you love. As with all good things, winter break must come to an end.

Over the next week, classes are starting back for teachers and students. Alarms are ringing, coffee is cooling and the responsibilities are mounting again.  In classrooms, it is generally back to business as usual. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind as you gear up for the second semester: Continue reading Start the New (Finish the School) Year Strong

Simple things, really. But with huge impact.

miracleI recently ran into a guy named Michael following a session at a social studies conference. Michael teaches history in a large, urban high school with a ton of low SES and ELL kids. His situation seemed so desperate to me that I had to ask him what strategies he used to convey content and meaning, how he got kids to makes sense of historical information.

He began sharing some of ideas and I realized that his situation wasn’t desperate. The kids in his classes – the low SES kids, the ELL kids – are learning and they’re learning at high levels. And it’s because of Michael.

I’ve read the ton of research out there documenting the importance of quality teachers. But it was fun to actually sit down and talk with someone who knows the content, who understands what works, and spends time honing his craft. To talk with someone whose actions suggest that the research is right.

A few of his ideas? Continue reading Simple things, really. But with huge impact.

David Cordell: Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Award, Secondary Level.

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KCSS Secondary Excellence in Teaching award winner David Cordell.

The Kansas Council for the Social Studies Excellence in Teaching Award is named in honor of Judy Cromwell, a social studies teacher in the Topeka area for over 38 years.  Intended to reward and encourage high quality instruction in the social studies for educators who are currently teaching social studies at least half-time and have three years teaching experience, KCSS selects one winner in each at the elementary and secondary levels.

David Cordell is this year’s secondary winner. He currently works at Leawood Middle School as an 8th grade social studies teacher.  David loves to tell his students, “that social studies is the best subject to study because it is constantly changing,” and hopes that his “passion for teaching social studies will inspire students to become active citizens in our society.”

His principal describes Mr. Cordell as “an effective and efficient teacher that challenges students academically while supporting their needs as individual learners.  His classroom is a positive learning environment where he has developed rapport with students while still having high expectations.”  David has also been a presenter at the National Council for the Social Studies conference the past two years and serves as a member of the state social studies standards and assessment committee.

So we asked David to share how he uses historical argument in his classes: Continue reading David Cordell: Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Award, Secondary Level.