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.

David Cordell
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.