Category Archives: Adam Topliff

Summer Road Trip – Have Fun And Get Some Professional Development

adam-topliff

This week’s blogger is Adam Topliff: He teaches 8th Grade Social Studies and Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  Adam loves all things Hamilton!

 

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Congratulations! You’ve made it to summer! Now take a deep breath and relax for moment.  You should allow yourself some quality time with your family, catch up on some reading (ask Glenn Wiebe if you are looking for some good reads), and maybe do some things to make yourself better at your craft.  

In recent years, summer professional development has become a popular trend and is taking on many forms.  There are great webinars and online opportunities.  Check out Twitter. You will find a great variety of chats and great people posting awesome ideas to steal.  You can partake in the face to face opportunities (insert my shameless plug for KSDE Summer Institutes) along with many other organizations that have great professional development options.  These might not be for you, either because of time or resources, but that does not mean you can’t get some quality professional development.

I love to use my summer family road trips to squeeze in some quality self-paced professional development.  Every summer, the Topliff Crew heads to a variety of places around this great state and nation to explore and expose our kids to as much as we can. This summer, we have planned four days in New York City and we are pretty pumped! Each year as we plan our trip, I look into what the area has to offer historically.  With New York City, the trip practically planned itself.  We included many things related to Hamilton, including a visit to the famed Fraunces Tavern. Continue reading Summer Road Trip – Have Fun And Get Some Professional Development

Who Has Influenced Mankind? Let Your Students Be The Judge Of That – The Historical Hall Of Fame

adam-topliffThis week’s post comes to you from Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  I love all things Hamilton!

 

 

Spring Break History Nerdfest for the Topliff Family took us to lovely Kansas City and man, it was amazing.  We took in the Negro League Baseball and National World War I Museums, looked out over the city atop the Liberty Memorial, and got our fill of great KC BBQ. (Thanks Arthur Bryant’s!)  As we took in all of the great stories at the museums, my family and I discussed all the powerful stories of people who have impacted the story of us.  So many people of our past never have their story told, primarily because they may not be seen as the big names of history.  

Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy are names that will show up in every text book, but they are not the only influential people that have shaped our history.  The story of us is filled with millions of ordinary people that might not have stories that flash off the page, but they are just as critical.  This important part of telling history became the backbone for a project I created called The Historical Hall of Fame.

A decade ago, in my first year at Wamego Middle School, I was looking for a long term project that would engage my students in one of the most difficult times of the year, after state testing and weeks before the end of the school.  Being a fairly new teacher, I struggled to find something that my students could manage. Continue reading Who Has Influenced Mankind? Let Your Students Be The Judge Of That – The Historical Hall Of Fame

Civic Engagement & Historical Argumentation

adam-topliff

This week’s author is Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  I love all things Hamilton!

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The Kansas Standards for History, Government, and Social Studies prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, engaged citizens as they enrich their communities, state, nation, world, and themselves.

The mission statement for our HGSS standards in Kansas has pushed educators across disciplines to consider how we are working to get our kids engaged.  This push is part of the greater initiative to deliver the best education in the nation and to produce true 21st Century citizens. One of the main focuses at KSDE is the idea of creating civic engagement for our students. This can be demonstrated through any number of opportunities in which our students engage in community service, leadership initiatives, or simply study how our government works. However, we must consider how to encourage civic engagement as we study history.

One of the staples of the mission statement is “engaging to provide the enrichment to a student’s communities, state, nation, world and THEMSELVES.” To produce deep levels of civic engagement, we need to ask our students to engage in historical conversations based on questions that will also enrich them and challenge them to look at today’s civic, political, and social issues. To simply study the past will not develop these opportunities.  

This fall, as part of my attempt to develop better connections between the study of history and civic engagement, my students completed a long term project that asked them to evaluate the presidential job performance of the “Founding Presidents.”  One of the main curriculum units we study is the Constitution Period but  I relabeled it “Building A Nation” and used that theme to develop the presidential evaluation project.   Continue reading Civic Engagement & Historical Argumentation

Winning the RACE of writing

student-at-computerStudents + writing = frustration . . . sound like familiar?

The growing expectation of integrating writing  in our Social Studies classroom makes us as anxious about the process as our students. Why does this happen? There are a variety of factors that contribute to this fear and frustration but the most common that I hear from other teachers is

I don’t have a solid system to assist my kids with writing.

We teach a topic and then assess students by asking them to write a response or reaction. What do we get back? Continue reading Winning the RACE of writing