Under Contract: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

downloadTechnology integration, individualized learning, differentiation, data based decision making, standards driven content…the list of expectations in any given lesson could go on and on, but how do teachers go about efficiently meeting all of these demands in their classrooms?  Blended Learning is a great solution that many teachers are turning to, and one model frequently used is Learning Contracts.  These contracts are agreements between the teacher and their students, which allows students some choice in their learning while requiring students to meet conditions set by the teacher.  Contracts outline an entire lesson or unit for students before they begin learning the content, providing them with what they will be learning, how they will learn it, due dates, and assessments.

Continue reading Under Contract: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

Teaching Economics through the Lens of Sports


Angela head

Angela Howdeshell is this week’s poster: I work as the Vice President for Programs and Administration for the Kansas Council for Economic Education, a non-profit organization housed at Wichita State University with a mission of helping Kansas K-12 schools integrate financial literacy and economic education.


bobsled-team-run-olympics-38631.jpegAs a parent, I worked hard to find many different and creative ways to encourage my child to eat nutritious foods.  I would sneak it in whenever possible and sometimes in very creative ways.  There were times he noticed and then times he did not.  I hoped for more times where he did NOT notice.  Then I would struggle with the decision of whether or not I would tell him what he had just eaten.  Mostly, I chose to wait to tell him until much later down the road after he had eaten it several times.


I know that I learned this game from my mother and father.  They were always trying to convince me that I could not survive on ravioli, burritos and pizza for every meal.  I refused to accept that terrible story that sounded like a big lie to me.  These foods seemed to have everything I thought I needed. Mom definitely tried in every way possible to force me to eat those red, green and orange things coming out of our massive garden, which she dedicated many hours tending to.  Outside of the strawberry patch, there were very few things I would consider trying.  Okay, maybe it had a little to do with a stubborn streak too.  My parents always hoped that I would have my own child that was as picky as I was.  They definitely got their wish!  My son could possibly be worse than I was.

One successful way that I remember my mother succeeding to change my eating plan was with her chocolate zucchini cake.  NEVER would I have touched a zucchini baked, fried, or any other way where it showed any skin, texture or taste of that very beneficial vegetable.  It would just be unacceptable in my books.  She succeeded this rare time and before I even knew it, I was chowing down that amazing cream cheese frosting and grabbing my second piece when she told me what was in the cake.  I had already admitted that I loved it so I had to embrace the fact that I lost the “hide the food” game that day.    

The meaning of this story, now that everyone’s craving zucchini cake, is that economics seems to have the same meaning as vegetables to many people.  Teachers, now playing the role of parents in this part of the story, have a lot less work to do now to make economics more palatable to all students.  There are economics lessons for children’s book fans, film and TV enthusiasts, board game lovers and those of us that pay attention when it comes to the subject of money.  One area that has really become more readily available is economic lessons through the lens of sports.  

I do not remember the first year I sat through a session at a Council for Economic Education annual conference but it was over a decade ago and it was probably Mark Schug.  It seemed as though each year we have had more and more.  This year’s sessions were no exception.  I was more than happy to listen as Mike Raymer of the Georgia Council on Economic Education and his co-presenter held their session “Take Me Out to the Ball Game….For Some Economics” because I knew I would probably relate given the years of seat time at my son’s 13 seasons of baseball games.  Sports has definitely taken the spotlight as a very effective way to help students connect economic concepts to something thing they relate to and understand besides using the old widget examples used in my economics class years ago.  

The Council for Economic Education has made a great start at pulling some sports and economics lessons together.  Teachers can find these free online lessons and many more on EconEdLink.

Economics of Sports:  https://www.econedlink.org/topics/9

If you haven’t already taken a look at them, you should peruse the list of enticing titles and check out a few lessons.  Many of these topics can be adapted for other grade levels. These lessons are guaranteed to make your sports fan students try something new and good for them in your classroom.  It is just like adding a little cream cheese frosting to zucchini cake.

LeBron J

Should LeBron James Mow His Own Yard?

Summer Olympics J  Summer Games Worth It?

Scalping J The Economics of Ticket Scalping





Check out our site for even more: Economics of Sports

Structured Academic Controversy – Lewis and Clark Edition!  

Today’s post is written by Cheney, Kansas middle and high social studies teacher Jill Weber. Jill is the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year.

Sometimes it all goes right. Thursday morning I didn’t think the day was going to turn out. It was just one of those rough mornings. Bad news and frustrations everywhere I looked. Before class started, I thought

Man, I’m gonna really have to fake-it-to-make-it today.

But then class started, and we got rolling with our topic and activity. By the end of my first block I knew I wasn’t gonna have to “fake it.” Today was AWESOME!

And it was made possible by the Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) activity I found using Stanford History Education Group. If you aren’t using SHEG in your classes . . . get on it! Seriously one of the best resources out there for incorporating and teaching with primary sources.

The SAC provides a controversial questions, documents for research, and the procedure for students to participate in small group debates. Students learn how to argue with evidence! And middle school students LOVE to argue!

The entire activity took two full class periods (we are on a block schedule, so two 75 min. classes) Here’s how it went down . . . Continue reading Structured Academic Controversy – Lewis and Clark Edition!  

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Instructional resources

January 27th marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War.

And while you may not be teaching a class that specifically focuses on the events of 1941-1945 as well as earlier discrimination and persecution under the Nazi government, it does provide a chance to connect those events to similar genocides both past and present. And to other acts of discrimination and persecution happening around the world and in the United States.

By remembering the Holocaust, we can honor survivors and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today.

There are many resources available. You might start with these:

Never forget.