2022 Kansas Social Studies Conference (Did I mention it’s free?)

As a member and current president of the Kansas Council for Social Studies, the working relationship between the professional Social Studies organizations in Kansas is one that I deeply cherish and am proud to be a part of. This network of professionals has helped transform my teaching practice and feeds my teacher soul.

The four groups dedicated to serving the teachers of Kansas are:

  • Kansas Council for History Education
  • Kansas Geography Alliance 
  • Kansas Council for Economic Education
  • Kansas Council for Social Studies 

The cool thing is that while we all have a specific area of focus, we all have one common goal – sharing our love of history, government, and economics with the teachers, students, and communities of Kansas. One way we do that is to co-host a yearly social studies conference. And we were all desperately hoping to be able to provide an in-person conference this year. 

Unfortunately that just isn’t possible yet. (Curse you Omicron.) So the members of the four groups rose to the challenge and have come together to provide a free online learning conference that will meet the needs of teachers just like you.

The bonus? Anyone can attend! Not a Kansas social studies teacher? We’d love to have you be part of the experience! 

So whether you’re wanting to dive deeper into learning about indigenous Identity with Dr. Brandon Haddock, explore geography through the lens of a zombie apocalypse, dive into economic policy, or attend a wide variety of other breakout sessions with teaching strategies to help you “take it up a notch,”  we’ve got something for you. 

And . . . just a reminder. It’s free

Here’s the breakdown. Things kick off today and continue for the next month with a series of workshops and sessions – all offered online. (Did I mention they’re all free?)

Getting signed up for any or all of these virtual sessions is super easy. Sign up for one, or all, depending on your schedule and desire. You’ll receive a Zoom link prior to each session. Easy peasy.

I’m planning to attend as many sessions as I can and look forward to meeting all of you. I’m especially excited about my own session on February 16th! I will be sharing the evening with Essdack consultant and KCSS past president Glenn Wiebe, current KCSS vice president TJ Warsnak, high school social studies rock star Derek Schutte, and Institute for Curriculum Services Consultant Erika Lowery. 

I”ll be talking about ways to facilitate classroom discussions around contemporary issues and am looking forward to sharing some awesome strategies! Glenn, TJ, Derek, and Erika will make it tough for you to choose with three other awesome sessions! Feel free to bounce around from session to session. (We’ll be sure to include all of the resources here at Doing Social Studies and on our KCSS website so you’re guaranteed to have access to all the resources!)

  • Using Online Geo Tools to Enhance Your Instruction and Make Your Kids Smarter
    Glenn Wiebe
  • 3 Guys and a Textbook: A Lighthearted Look At Increasing Engagement (for mature audiences only!)
    TJ Warsnak and Derek Schutte 
  • Exploring Strategies for Analyzing Primary Sources
    Erika Lowery

Don’t forget to register! (And don’t forget the free part!). 

Hope to see you there!

Jill Weber

Classroom Based Assessments – Where to start

As we reboot Doing Social Studies, we’d love to introduce you to this month’s author, Nathan McAlister.

Nathan McAlister is the Humanities Program Manager – History, Government, and Social Studies with the Kansas State Department of Education. Prior to taking his current position Nathan taught middle and high school social studies for 24 years. Nathan’s past students have created and led several civic and historical preservation projects. These include three pieces of Kansas Legislation, a Civil War mural, a Civil War Veterans Kansas preservation project, many National History Day projects, and four award-winning Lowell Milken for Unsung Heroes projects.

In 2010, Nathan was named Kansas and National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. Nathan has also been named a Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Master Teacher Fellow, Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, Fellow, and a George Washington Library, Lifeguard Teacher Fellow.  

So, you need to design a CBA? You have an idea, check. You have an outcome the students need to meet, check. You even have the work days mapped and planned, check. But where do I find the necessary materials to either curate the sources myself or send the students to curate sources themselves? Additionally, if I am curating the sources can I use excerpts? Still further, if I use excerpts, how much is too much to cut? My goal, for this blog post is twofold. One, offer examples of websites to use in your classroom, and two, provide a few rules to guide your excerpting of documents.

Let’s get started.

Continue reading Classroom Based Assessments – Where to start

Gilder Lehrman provides the silver lining: A free webinar on American Race Relations. Free. As in . . . it’s free.

It can be tough finding the silver lining in all the disruption to student learning and teacher professional development caused by COVID-19.  But every once in a while, a little glint of silver appears. Professional earning opportunities that would not have been available face to face to us can be delivered virtually, opening up the chance to learn from all sorts of people sharing about all sorts of content.

Today, that sliver appeared to me.

Mark Nickel, Secondary Social Studies & World Languages director in the Wichita, Kansas school district, passed on some details about what sounds like an amazing learning experience. Together with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Wichita is sponsoring a virtual webinar entitled “The History of Race Relations in America: the African-American Experience.”

The webinar will include a live panel on Wednesday,  July 29th, from 1:00-2:30 PM (CST). Thanks to the generosity of the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, this learning opportunity is funded at no cost. The Webinar will feature a panel of three eminent historians who will examine the African American experience from 1492-1877, followed by a 30 minute live Q&A session. And you know it’s going to be good. What Gilder Lehrman stuff hasn’t been?

The webinar is designed for upper elementary and secondary school teachers in Kansas. There are even a limited number of $50 stipends that will be given to the first participants who register. (The announcement did make it clear that to be eligible for the stipend, you must attend the full session. Seems fair.)

You can register for the webinar online. (Seriously. Why are you still here? Go on. Click the link already.)

Upon registering for the session, you’ll receive an automatic email with the Zoom registration link and a link to a Google Form. Participants can submit questions for the Q&A session using this form up until the start of the session. The panel will also be taking questions live.

All participating teachers are eligible to join a Gilder Lehrman Study Group – an online workshop led by GLI Master Teachers in the week following the webinar. This extended learning session is designed for teachers to digest lecture content, ask questions, learn from other teachers, and put pedagogic strategies into practice. The date and time for the study group is still up in the air.

If you have any questions, feel free to email education@gilderlehrman.org or contact the Gilder Lerhman Education Program Coordinator, Martha Slomczewski.

You don’t get this sort of silver lining every day. Take advantage.

A teacher’s path to continuous learning


Lori Rice teaches fourth grade at West Elementary in Wamego and is the current Kansas Council for the Social Studies elementary teacher of the year. You can find Lori on Twitter at @MsLRice. She also blogs on all things teaching (not just social studies) at The Educator’s Room.

Twenty years ago, I took a special education class for my undergraduate degree.  I have been teaching in the regular education classroom ever since then, and have honed my craft each year. Each new class and school-year brings with it new challenges, and so my learning continues as well.  However, I could have never foreseen this year’s learning curve. I would have never guessed a month ago that I would spend the last nine weeks, with this class, in a completely new classroom, a virtual world, where my honed skills had to be pushed, restructured and reimagined to conclude the year with continuous learning.

Twenty years ago, in that special education class (which I don’t recall the title of), the instructor shared a poem, Welcome to Holland , written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a beautiful prose about becoming a parent.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Pexels.com

The journey in that poem described by Kingsley, was a brilliant metaphor comparing the excitement of becoming a new parent to planning a trip to Italy.  Teachers, just like new parents, are planners, but those plans don’t always work out. This school year we have implemented ¾ of our plans with our current classroom, however, the plans suddenly changed a month ago.

As in the poem, the plans we made no longer work.  The curriculum, field trips, and activities we had planned all school year long, are just out of our grasp.  These are the things we’ve always looked forward to.  The excitement and joy of teaching in the spring is always a highlight.  New teachers are wrapping up their first year with reflections of successes and failures they will use to strengthen their craft next year.  Veteran teachers are longing for traditions and classroom activities that bring smiles and further build community within the classroom as the school year winds down.  The journey had been planned.

In her poem, Kingsley writes: Continue reading A teacher’s path to continuous learning