A teacher’s path to continuous learning

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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.

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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

Doing Social Studies Reboot: Our New Normal

Whelp, teaching in Kansas and across the country has changed due to COVID-19. Governor Laura Kelly made the decision to close our physical buildings through the end of the school year, but her prioritizing safety did not bring an end to the education of our students.

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Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on Pexels.com

If any state was ready to adapt to a change like this, it’s Kansas. Already in the process of school redesign, this is a challenge that Kansas is uniquely prepared to face. The Kansas Department of Education’s Continuous Learning Task Force set out guidelines for schools with the direction that districts should interpret them in the manner that will work best for their students. Most districts are taking this additional week following Governor Kelly’s announcement to make these decisions and meet with their teachers on what school is going to look like for the remainder of 2019-2020.

We’ve got this, and KCSS and Doing Social Studies is going to do all we can to help. The resources are coming at us like a fire hose, and that’s great, but we’ve got to be smart. The NCSS Technology Community has pulled on their experience and resources to come up with these tips as you wade into the new normal.

TechNCSS Tips

As your Doing Social Studies community figures out their own classrooms we’ll share with you what we’re doing and the resources that we’ve found the most helpful.

Hang in there, we’ve got this: #KansasCan

Blooming in Social Studies

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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.


Our world is changing; looking different today than ever before. In this evolving environment it is more important today than ever before to develop citizens who are prepared to take on the challenges our society is dealing with.  We need students who are able to understand the past and use this knowledge to apply, create and synthesize solutions for tomorrow.

In 1956 under the title, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain, Bloom’s taxonomy was published with an idea of giving educators a common bank of items to be used in assessments.  Forty-five years later, in 2001, this framework was reevaluated as Bloom realized it could reach beyond assessment purposes. He believed it could serve as a common language for learning objectives across curricular areas. During this time of revision a few of the categories shifted.  “Understand” was a verb used over and over by educators so this replaced “comprehension” and with this the nouns were changed to verbs. Lastly, evaluation and synthesis switched places making synthesizing the highest level; however, it was changed to “create”.

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Bloom’s has been used across classrooms for years.  Adding a layer of technology to this chart allows students to remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create in ways that are meaningful and fun.  This increases the engagement and retention of ideas and content from the classroom. Here are a few apps and websites to check out for each classification of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Continue reading Blooming in Social Studies

Old or new, maps are cool. Two new ones you need to explore

Can you ever have too many maps?

The obvious answer is no. You can never have too many maps.

So when I ran across some very cool old maps last Saturday at the Wichita Flea Market, there really wasn’t any question about whether or not I would buy them. The question was how many will I buy.

I settled on two. Which means my wife helped me decide that I should settle on two. There are quite a few maps already in my house and I was gently made aware of that fact. Which means semi-gently.

Both of the maps I walked away with are almost 100 years old. One is a 1924 map of tourist Rome published in Italian, the other a map highlighting the 1924 British Empire Exhibition with suggested mass transit options from around the London metro area. So cool.

Perfect for displaying, reading, primary source analysis, (the Empire Exhibition and its various colonial pavilions is just asking for some in-depth conversation) or just wafting in the 100 year old smell.

But while we all know how cool old maps are, new maps are nothing to sneeze at. I love the ability of digitized maps to allow access to all sorts of data in all sorts of very visual ways. Take a look at these two Continue reading Old or new, maps are cool. Two new ones you need to explore