Category Archives: best practice

Gilder Lehrman provides the silver lining: A free webinar on American Race Relations. Free. As in . . . it’s free.

It can be tough finding the silver lining in all the disruption to student learning and teacher professional development caused by COVID-19.  But every once in a while, a little glint of silver appears. Professional earning opportunities that would not have been available face to face to us can be delivered virtually, opening up the chance to learn from all sorts of people sharing about all sorts of content.

Today, that sliver appeared to me.

Mark Nickel, Secondary Social Studies & World Languages director in the Wichita, Kansas school district, passed on some details about what sounds like an amazing learning experience. Together with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Wichita is sponsoring a virtual webinar entitled “The History of Race Relations in America: the African-American Experience.”

The webinar will include a live panel on Wednesday,  July 29th, from 1:00-2:30 PM (CST). Thanks to the generosity of the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, this learning opportunity is funded at no cost. The Webinar will feature a panel of three eminent historians who will examine the African American experience from 1492-1877, followed by a 30 minute live Q&A session. And you know it’s going to be good. What Gilder Lehrman stuff hasn’t been?

The webinar is designed for upper elementary and secondary school teachers in Kansas. There are even a limited number of $50 stipends that will be given to the first participants who register. (The announcement did make it clear that to be eligible for the stipend, you must attend the full session. Seems fair.)

You can register for the webinar online. (Seriously. Why are you still here? Go on. Click the link already.)

Upon registering for the session, you’ll receive an automatic email with the Zoom registration link and a link to a Google Form. Participants can submit questions for the Q&A session using this form up until the start of the session. The panel will also be taking questions live.

All participating teachers are eligible to join a Gilder Lehrman Study Group – an online workshop led by GLI Master Teachers in the week following the webinar. This extended learning session is designed for teachers to digest lecture content, ask questions, learn from other teachers, and put pedagogic strategies into practice. The date and time for the study group is still up in the air.

If you have any questions, feel free to email education@gilderlehrman.org or contact the Gilder Lerhman Education Program Coordinator, Martha Slomczewski.

You don’t get this sort of silver lining every day. Take advantage.

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.

pexels-photo-1462631
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

IMG_9723

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”.

group of people watching on laptop
Photo by Fox on Pexels.com

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

App Up Your Social Studies

IMG_9723

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.


Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative Einstein_1921_by_F_Schmutzer_-_restorationexpression and knowledge.”   There is a never ending demand teachers in a classroom; things to change, things to learn, and things to implement.  Mobile devices are a wonderful tool in a teacher’s tool belt of knowledge. Bringing apps into your social studies classroom will enable you to continue with proven teaching strategies while opening the doors to learning for your students.

I recently had a conversation with a friend.  We were discussing high school and remembering funny anecdotes and stories of our past.  I mentioned I had a social studies teacher I did not care for and I struggled in this class.  The struggle was my engagement, not the grade. The class was simply boring. My friend also remembered that social studies was one of his least favorite subjects in school as well.  There is an irony in the fact that a subject full of stories, history and culture would be boring.

Teaching is an art and a science.  There are many proven strategies that can be used to increase student motivation and learning.  As an educator, it is our job to allow for expression and creativity in learning. “App Up Your Social Studies” will bring a connection to proven strategies and apps that allow for creativity.

Using Bloom’s taxonomy in a classroom where students feel connected and safe is a wonderful tool.  We will explore apps that can be used to help students analyze, evaluate and create to demonstrate their understanding of their social studies content. These apps will allow you to expand on what you are already doing in your curriculum.

Along with Bloom’s, we will also explore Marzano’s instructional strategies of summarizing and note taking (having a 34% gain in student learning), nonlinguistic representation (having a 27% gain in student learning), and asking questions (having a 22% gain in student learning).*  We will use apps to allow students to sketch their learning and ask higher level questions. How powerful would our world be if our students had a deep understanding of our social studies standards along with a passion for other cultures and relationships?

Social studies is the stories of our past and our cultures.  This can be personal past and culture, recent past and culture, or ancient past and culture.  Helping students understand their own stories and connections to the stories of others allows for empathy.  Apping up your social studies will allow students to explore, analyze, evaluate and create. So reflect on what you are already doing and join me to explore how to bring apps into your classroom for social studies fun!

Sound interesting? You can see Lori live next Monday at the Kansas Social Studies Conference at 2:10pm!