I 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.
The Kansas Council for the Social Studies Excellence in Teaching Award is named in honor of Judy Cromwell, a social studies teacher in the Topeka area for over 38 years. Intended to reward and encourage high quality instruction in the social studies for educators who are currently teaching social studies at least half-time and have three years teaching experience, KCSS selects one winner in each at the elementary and secondary levels.
David Cordell is this year’s secondary winner. He currently works at Leawood Middle School as an 8th grade social studies teacher. David loves to tell his students, “that social studies is the best subject to study because it is constantly changing,” and hopes that his “passion for teaching social studies will inspire students to become active citizens in our society.”
His principal describes Mr. Cordell as “an effective and efficient teacher that challenges students academically while supporting their needs as individual learners. His classroom is a positive learning environment where he has developed rapport with students while still having high expectations.” David has also been a presenter at the National Council for the Social Studies conference the past two years and serves as a member of the state social studies standards and assessment committee.
In 1953, Emporia, Kansas native Alvin J. King proposed that Armistice Day be changed to Veterans Day to recognize and honor all veterans from all wars and conflicts. The first Veterans Day was organized and celebrated in Emporia later that year. Kansas representative Ed Rees, also from Emporia, took King’s proposal to Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (also from Kansas) signed the bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day.
The first nationwide observance of Veterans Day was on November 11, 1954. Every year since, the President of the United States urges all Americans to honor the commitment of our Veterans through appropriate public ceremonies (from the Emporia Visitors Bureau).
Below are resources and lesson plans that can be used in your classroom to help teach your students about Veterans Day:
Well, reintroducing, you might recognize Lori from her previous posts here on Doing Social Studies.
The KCSS Excellence in Teaching Award is named in honor of Judy Cromwell, a social studies teacher in the Topeka area for over 38 years. Intended to reward and encourage high quality instruction in the social studies for educators who are currently teaching social studies at least half-time and have three years teaching experience, KCSS selects one winner in each at the elementary and secondary levels.
Lori Rice is not only our elementary winner, but won the Kansas Department of Education Social Studies Teacher of the Year. Needless to say, she’s a fantastic educator and we’re so happy to have her here in Kansas.
Lori Rice currently works at West Elementary in Wamego as a fourth grade teacher. While she is responsible for teaching all subjects, it has been her goal to “teach social studies standards even when these are often neglected due to mathematics and reading instruction taking priority.” Lori integrates the social studies curriculum into every aspect of her classroom, as described by her colleague, “her classroom management fosters her student’s development as both citizens and communicators. Her instruction has a profound impact on student learning through her use of materials, strategies, and utilization of standards, interrelated themes, and dimensions of inquiry concepts. All of this is possible with her dedication to her own professional involvement both in and outside of the school building.” But, Lori’s impact goes beyond the social studies curriculum, as explained by her principal and nominator, “Ms. Rice also goes above and beyond the call of duty for the children in our district,” being involved with summer programs and several after school programs that focus on social skills and STEM.
Let’s hear from the woman herself:
A Path to Social Studies Integration
Dictionary.com defines integration as, “An act or instance of combining into an integral whole.” Teachers across the nation are using this idea to purposefully combine curriculum and standards in meaningful ways for student learning. Just like making a recipe or putting together a puzzle, you must combine different pieces of your curriculum, content, and skills to provide purposeful, meaningful social studies instruction for students. In this era of change it is our responsibility to shift more focus to becoming involved, engaged citizens and this can easily be done with integration.
Integration does not need to be time consuming and complex. There are simple steps you can work through to get started in creating integrated units for your classroom, grade level, or school. The process works best with a group because as Vince Lombardi said, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Find a colleague, a grade level team member or network online and start, or continue, to integrate social studies into your classroom and lessons.
Begin with an essential question. Essential questions are open ended, big idea questions that vital, thought provoking, and touch our hearts and souls. In fourth grade social studies we use “Would I live here?” as a year long essential question. This can encompass westward movement, civics and regions which are the big units we teach. Essential questions can be used with units, in classrooms, by grade levels and within entire buildings to provoke inquiry and probe deeper thinking among students. If you are new to essential questions you can watch a short video clip here to get started. https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/structure-learning-essential-questions .
Using your essential question, think of the things you are already doing that fit under this essential question. What books are you already reading aloud? How does your curriculum fit together? Using a social studies umbrella we can pull civic engagement and citizenship as well as history and geological thinking into classrooms. Speaking, listening, writing and language standards naturally fit into a social studies scope. This integration allows you to do more in the same time because you are combining into an integral whole.
After you have written an essential question and created a list of things you already love and do, think about your standards and units. List resources you have, text sets, experts and what you want students to know. Think about your read aloud book or reading group books you already use with small groups. With simple and purposeful connections you can connect primary sources, maps, timelines, and nonfiction books to integrate. These artifacts will bring the stories of our country and people to life for students as well as promote empathy and civic engagement. https://www.archives.gov/ and https://www.kshs.org/ are great places to start looking for resources.
Social studies is the stories of our past. This can be personal past, recent past, or ancient past. Helping students understand their own stories and connections to the stories of others allows for empathy. Bringing social studies back into our classroom is imperative for developing citizens who care. So reflect on what you are already doing, form essential questions, gather what you need including your resources and technology to find primary source documents, literature, poetry, etc. Bring stories into your classroom for social studies and have fun!
You can find Lori on Twitter @MsLRice and she also blogs on all things teaching (not just social studies) at The Educator’s Room
The awards for the Teacher of the Year for each the KCSS, KCHE, KGA, and KCEE are given at the Kansas Social Studies Conference. Next year, the conference will be hosted by the Kansas Council for History Education at Newman University in Wichita October 20-21. Start making plans now for this opportunity to meet loads of inspiring educators in your state.
This week’s contributor is Julie Bergene: Julie Bergene is the public education coordinator at the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence. She leads K-12 and family education programs, including on-site, outreach, and online initiatives. Previously, she was an educator at natural history museums and holds a teaching license for secondary biology.
Want more access to great primary sources? Seeking to engage your students with voting and debates especially in this election season? Itching to try a new digital breakout game? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to attend the session “Get out the vote – historically speaking,” next Monday at 1 pm at the Kansas State Social Studies conference.
Hello, my name is Julie Bergene and I am the Public Education Coordinator at the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence. From the great primary sources of the Dole Archives, I will be simulating a document discovery workshop that you can do with your students or I can also come to your school for a free outreach program!
In my conference session, I will present a really interesting look at two constituent letters from Kansans in 1969 (before the 26th Amendment). They give viewpoints of two opposing sides of the right to vote at age 18. By the end of the exercise I hope the students appreciate how interesting primary sources are, understand the difficult decisions that our elected officials have to make on a daily basis, and display how important our public rights are in a democracy. Experience this for yourself in a hands-on demonstration on Monday afternoon. These interactive activities fulfill state standards and can be related to the C3 framework.
Also, I will be presenting a new digital breakout activity based on the Dole Archives. Similar to an escape room but all online, this 45-minute activity gives a great introduction to Senator Bob Dole and his career, while interacting with our online resources like digitized documents. This would be a great pre-assessment tool as you utilize the online Dole Archives primary sources or before your free outreach visit!
I would love to discuss with you how to utilize these free resources and more from the Dole Institute. I look forward to working with you and your students! See you at the conference!