All posts by Megan Nieman

About Megan Nieman

I teach U.S. History, Government, and Sociology at McPherson High School in McPherson, KS.

Each Kansan Counts Teacher Ambassador

From the 2020 Census Civic Outreach Effort:

We Want You (and Your Students!) To Join the 2020 Census Civic Outreach Effort in KS! 

KSDE in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau is providing training & support for KS Educators who sign up to help raise awareness & engage their local community in the 2020 Census!

Registration is a 2-Step process:

1.  Register with KSDE Click Here For Google Form   

Benefit:  Kansas specific training + student involvement + fun = making a difference

2.  Register with the U.S. Census Bureau (OCT 24 DEADLINE) via email (below).    Benefit: National Involvement + Training + SWAG
(note:  if you miss the U.S. Census Bureau’s Oct 24 deadline, you may STILL register to be part of the KS effort!)

Shape the future for your students and school. Start here. Fall recruitment is now live! Become an ambassador with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools (SIS) program, which uses Census Bureau statistics to educate pre-K through 12th grade students about the importance of a complete and accurate census count.

SIS equips teachers with free and engaging activities to use in classrooms. For the 2019-2020 school year, new materials that teach students about the importance of the 2020 Census count, and empowers them to share this knowledge with adults in their home. 

The U.S. Census Bureau looks to Teacher SIS ambassadors to champion the program in their classrooms, schools, and communities, and in doing so promote a complete 2020 Census count. As leaders in the program, ambassadors will:

  • Promote national SIS events on social media platforms, leading up to and during events, to increase awareness and engagement.
  • Network with fellow ambassadors.
  • Receive exclusive 2020 Census promotional items for use in and outside the classroom.

Ideal candidates are active pre-K through 12th grade teachers who are excited to spearhead a national initiative at their schools while shaping the future of their communities through social media, collaboration, and leadership. Application reviewers will consider the following qualifications:

  • Past leadership positions or an expressed interest in gaining experience.
  • Knowledge of or experience with SIS materials.
  • A social media presence.

Making sure ALL children and families are counted in the 2020 Census is especially important for education. Responses to the 2020 Census survey will determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds is distributed to communities each year for the next 10 years, including money for school programs such as:

  • Special education
  • Teacher training
  • Technology
  • School lunch assistance
  • Head Start
  • Title I funds
  • After-school programs

As an SIS ambassador with the U.S. Census Bureau, you will help your students, schools, and communities benefit from the 2020 Census. Email to apply by October 24.

Summer Professional Development . . . on Instagram?

barefoot beach blur break

Teacher Perks: “You get summers off.”

How many times have you had someone outside the education profession say this to you? If you are reading this blog post, chances are you know that it’s really not true. You probably know that teachers use these precious summer months to recharge, refuel, and LEARN. We strive to find ways to perfect our craft and answer questions that came up over the past school year.

This is the first summer that I did not physically attend multiple professional development conferences or workshops in June and July. I say “physically” because looking back on the past few months, I do feel that I attended professional development in a new and different way. Over the past year, I have found a new community on Instagram.

access blur close up colorful

This community is filled with educators from all different content areas and age ranges. Educators are posting lesson plan ideas, classroom management strategies, classroom organization tips, and even personal stories and experiences. Many of them have stores on Teachers Pay Teachers, blogs, or vlogs and are sharing content / pedagogical strategies for the world to access at our finger tips.

How to Get Started

I first started by creating a separate account just for my education world. I tried to Continue reading Summer Professional Development . . . on Instagram?

PD Opportunity: Calling all teachers to the National WWII Museum!

The National WWII Museum has an amazing opportunity for teachers this summer. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this! But hurry – the deadline for applications is February 1, 2018.

Explore World War II in New Orleans and Hawaii!

Applications for The National WWII Museum’s Summer Teacher Institute are now OPEN! This professional development experience for middle and high school social studies teachers includes a weeklong seminar at the Museum in New Orleans (July 22-28, 2018), plus a trip to explore WWII-related historic sites in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (July 21-27, 2019). This year’s institute focuses on the US Home Front, and will include seminar discussions with top WWII scholars, guided tours of the Museum’s innovative exhibits, artifact analysis, and interaction with WWII arvites1veterans. Participants receive up to six hours of graduate credit for participation. Travel, graduate tuition, and seminar materials are provided free of charge by the Museum. For full details and the application, visit

If you have other questions, please contact Joshua Goodman at


Sociology Spotlight: Teaching Social Stratification with Music and Fantastic Lies

animal farmTeachers of social studies across the curriculum probably don’t realize that they cover the issue of Social Stratification (social class systems, poverty, Karl Marx, etc) in their classes. Teachers of sociology probably could spend a whole month on the topic! Social Stratification is one of my favorite units in my semester-long sociology course. Last year, I had my students read Animal Farm (it’s not required in English anymore) and compare the animal’s problems with the issues of social class and social mobility.

I may do that again – just because, in my personal opinion, I think students still need to read this classic! But I have two other favorite activities to go with this unit:

  • Music
  • Fantastic Lies

First, students watch a few videos and we discuss some important vocabulary with Social Stratification. Then I have the students listen to “Livin’ on a Prayer” (Bon Jovi) and “Fast Car” (Tracy Chapman). They pick out the issues that relate to social stratification after listening to the songs and reading the lyrics. Next I set them free to find their own examples of stratification in music. Obviously there are some ground rules – nothing racially or sexually offensive. You could also make sure that the songs are clean, but I really want the students to look at the music that they like and pick out these issues within the songs they are listening to everyday. And like almost everything else, you’ll have those students who just google “Songs about social stratification” — normally they pick “Allentown” by Billy Joel.

But I do have some kids who really become more aware of social class issues that people write about and how there are SO MANY songs with these issues to choose from! To complete this part of the unit, students view a Slide Mission with videos, notes, and responses embedded. I like this format because they can insert their YouTube videos right into Google Slides without me have to go search for them. A copy of what I used in my class can be found here.

After a class discussion about poverty in the U.S., we watch the ESPN 30 for 30 called mv5bmjqwmtcymdg2n15bml5banbnxkftztgwmtcxnjg0ode-_v1_uy1200_cr8906301200_al_Fantastic Lies“. This is the story of the Duke LaCrosse team rape scandal back in 2006. I show this because it covers individuals from across social classes and their expectations vs. reality. Students who are unfamiliar with the story are always shocked once we get about three-fourths of the way through it! Afterwards, they will write a reflection (usually around 300 words) and they make connections with the episode and the terms we discussed regarding Social Stratification. I purchased this episode of 30 for 30 (Season 3, episode 6) on Amazon Prime Video.

Sociology teachers out there: I’d love to hear what you do in your classes to teach social stratification! Comment below.