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.

5 graphic organizers you’re probably not using but should be

Most of you are already familiar with the idea of document analysis worksheets. These sorts of tools are perfect for scaffolding historical thinking skills for your kids. Some of the best, created by the Library of Congress and the National Archives, have been around for years. I also really like the stuff created by the Stanford History Education group, especially their Historical Thinking Chart.

We should be using all of those evidence analysis tools with our kids. They can be especially helpful for training elementary and middle school students to gather and organize evidence while solving authentic problems. And for high school kids without a strong background in historical thinking skills, the tools provided by the LOC, NARA, and SHEG are incredibly handy to help guide their thinking.

But what about other types of graphic organizers? Are there some organizers you should be using but aren’t? Spoiler alert. Yes.

Before we jump into the fabulous five, a quick graphic organizer 101 review.

Brain research tells us that mental images are powerful tools that support cognitive tasks and that by creating unique mental pictures, our students deepen their understanding, attach new information to prior knowledge, and create new learning. Graphic organizers are “visual and spatial displays that arrange information graphically so that key concepts and the relationships among the concepts are displayed” (Gunter, Estes, and Mintz 2007).

They can present information textually, with images or symbols, or a combination of both. Graphic organizers give kids a clear strategy to gather, process, organize, and prioritize information. All things that are encouraged by Common Core lit standards, the NCSS national standards, and the Kansas social studies document.

Okay . . . what five graphic organizers should all social studies teachers be using but probably aren’t? Continue reading 5 graphic organizers you’re probably not using but should be

5 Easy Ways to Integrate Writing in the Social Studies

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.


Gone are the days in which reading novels and writing essays belonged solely in an ELA classroom.  All subjects are now expected to (and should) be integrating and supporting the reading and writing skills that students are taught in Language Arts class.

“But, but . . . I went to college to be a history teacher, not an English teacher. I don’t know HOW to teach ELA!”

That was me. Seriously. I was ready to fight teaching reading and writing skills as long as I could.

Until I learned some simple strategies to help me.  This list is meant to help those who are struggling to add reading and writing skills into their classrooms and possibly give some new ideas to others. Continue reading 5 Easy Ways to Integrate Writing in the Social Studies

Foundations for Teaching Economics free professional learning. And a stipend!

Looking for some free econ professional learning and a $200 stipend? Then the Foundation for Teaching Economics upcoming Economics for Leaders week-long session is for you.

During this in-depth training scheduled at Washington University in St. Louis on July 17-22, high school teachers “go back to school” and are taught by university professors and mentor teachers. What makes the week unique are the games and simulations: instructors run the activities with real students so teachers can observe the students’ interactions. You’ll see why FTE – designed lessons are so effective and you’ll walk away with a better knowledge of economics, new classroom strategies, and a renewed enthusiasm for teaching. Both new and experienced teachers will benefit from attending the Economics for Leaders program.

What you’ll get:

  • Lessons correlated with the state and national standards in economics
  • Engaging lessons & activities for your classroom
  • Free housing with most meals paid by the Foundation for Teaching Economics
  • Optional graduate credit, three semester hours in economics, only $366
  • 50+ hours of instruction

Specific topics covered:

  • Economic Growth and Scarcity
  • Open Markets
  • Labor Markets
  • Property Rights
  • Money and Inflation
  • Opportunity Cost and Incentives
  • Markets in Action
  • Incentives, Innovations and Institutions Role of Government
  • International Markets

I have been teaching economics for 15 years, so I wonder if I would learn anything new. I learned so much!!! The activities are wonderful for engaging teenagers.

Carla Schiller

Interested? Contact Haley Sisler via email at  hsisler@fte.org or call 530-757-4635. Get more information at fte.org.