Category Archives: best practice

Simple things, really. But with huge impact.

miracleI 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.

A few of his ideas? Continue reading Simple things, really. But with huge impact.

David Cordell: Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Award, Secondary Level.

David Cordell
KCSS Secondary Excellence in Teaching award winner David Cordell.

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.

So we asked David to share how he uses historical argument in his classes: Continue reading David Cordell: Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Award, Secondary Level.

Get Out the Vote With Dole!

pastedImageThis 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.

You can catch Julie at the Kansas Social Studies Conference next week: Get Out The Vote – Historically Speaking                                                                Monday. Monday October 29, 2018 1:00pm – 1:50pm
MU 250 B: Black and Gold Room ESU Memorial Union 2nd Floor


unnamedWant 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!