All posts by glennw

About glennw

I work as a social studies specialist at ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Before coming to ESSDACK, I taught middle school US History and higher ed social science classes.

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.

“You’re starting to make me cranky.”

Glenn Wiebe was digging around the vault over at History Tech looking for some resources centered around the Kansans Can school redesign and ran across this rant written just after the 2013 state standards went live. With those standards currently in the revision process and the state of Kansas deep into conversations about changing how we do school, it seems appropriate to re-post it here. Basically, it boils down to:

How much are we willing to change so that our kids are prepared for their future?

It’s been a fun couple of months since the holiday break. I’ve had the chance to spend time with a variety of folks doing all sorts of cool stuff. A group of us have been struggling to write questions for the social studies state assessment pilot due out this spring.

I’ve spent time with teachers discussing social studies best practices that are aligned to the state’s recently adopted state standards. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of teachers as we shared ideas and discussed ways to integrate technology into instruction.

It’s all part of what is perhaps the best job in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves spending time with dedicated, amazing people who are literally changing the world?

But . . . sometimes I walk away feeling a little uncomfortable after spending time with teachers. Once in a great while, I leave a group angry. And while I honestly think I do a good job of hiding my feelings, I’m starting to think those feelings need to be a bit more obvious.

Change is difficult. I understand that. And society already asks teachers to be superheroes. But it still bothers me when I hear teachers say things like: Continue reading “You’re starting to make me cranky.”

You Sorry Sack of Slugs! I Want YOU to Think Historically

Jill Weber is a middle and high school teacher in Cheney, Kansas. Today she’s sharing about the Historical Thinking Boot Camp she takes her kids through every August.


A few years ago I completely reworked the start of my school year with my 7th grade students. I found that social studies was changing. It wasn’t just dates and facts that needed to be memorized. High level analysis and thinking were now in the picture. These are skills students don’t come in knowing how to do. They needed training.

So I developed a Historical Thinking Boot Camp for the first couple weeks in August. Primary sources, contextualize, corroboration, making a claim, detecting bias . . . these are BIG terms for the little green students I have walking in my door. The LAST thing I want to do is overwhelm them with boring vocabulary worksheets and lectures.

So instead they get this:

Curious? You can still access my original blog post about the Boot Camp.

Here’s the deal, guys and gals. This is my most requested material. I give it away for free. And this year, I will be presenting my Boot Camp at the Kansas Social Studies Conference on Sunday, October 28th. You’ll get a FRONT ROW SEAT to my latest Boot Camp updates, copies, what works, what doesn’t, examples, and the chance for some great Q & A to help you walk through it all.

All you have to do is show up. Head over to register for this year’s conference and get the early bird pricing at the conference website.

Seriously . . . showing up at the conference gets you into some MAJOR sessions including:

  • Stanford History Education Group executive director and guru Joel Breakstone sharing historical thinking and online literacy tools (The SHEG stuff is awesome and helps support a lot of my Boot Camp.)
  • Information about the 2020 social studies state assessment from KSDE consultant Don Gifford
  • #Buzzworthy classroom resources from teacher rock stars Derek Schutte and T.J. Warsnak
  • And much, MUCH, MORE! It’s the BEST money your district will spend on social studies PD all year. Get there!

(PS . . . the video is an example of me completely out of my comfort zone. I hate watching myself on tape. But I ask my students to step outside their comfort zones. Every. Single. Day. It’s only fair that I should too.)

*Look for part 2 of Don Gifford’s series on assessments on Wednesday. We thought Jill’s boot camp was too good and timely so we preempted all that assessment talk.