Adam Topliff teaches 8th Grade social studies & civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS. And loves all things Hamilton!
Let’s take a field trip. I want you to travel back to your college days.
OK . . . before we go any further, this is not traveling back to all the parts of college. There may be a few details that you would like to forget or some events that you can’t quite remember as clearly as you might hope.
But I do want you to take a quick memory ride back to your education classes, specifically your methods of instruction class.
What do you remember from the class? What were you able to take from that class that was designed to help you prepare to go into the classroom and be the teacher you aspired to become? I can’t speak for all the colleges but I can say I took mountain of information from my methods class at Emporia State. (Thanks Dr. Mallein!)
The thing I liked the most is that the class was truly an active lab of learning how to teach beyond just the Social Studies. This was about teaching kids. Everything from lesson plan design, to effectively implementing small groups, was geared to see the importance of the student first, not the content. Those lessons have greatly influenced my own thinking and methods as a middle school teacher.
You may not have had a similar experience. If you didn’t, I hope you were able to connect later with others in the profession who helped you grow. And I hope that you’re now motivated to help build the profession by finding ways to support and encourage others in becoming quality social studies educators.
Jill Weber is a middle school teacher in Cheney, Kansas and former Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year.
Today? She talks rubrics.
One thing I love about the teaching profession is that we are always constantly learning, growing, trying new things . . . all in the process of becoming better. This is true whether it’s your first year and you’re improving from the first month of school to the second. And it’s true if you’re a veteran teacher who decides to try something different to “shake things up.” There is always an opportunity to learn and improve.
One thing I am learning more and more as I keep going is how important it is to have clear expectations. Now, it’s not that I didn’t know that I needed that when I started but I keep learning that what I think is “clear” doesn’t necessarily translate that way to my 7th and 8th grade students. I find that they ALWAYS do better when I am as simplyspecific as possible with my expectations.
Don’t let that fool you. I didn’t say I lower my expectations.
I simplify my explanation of the expectations so that it is as clear as possible.
I am constantly getting better at this.
And one of my favorite examples is with my rubrics.
I am a FIRM believer in having rubrics to score students on. Nothing is more frustrating for a student to receive a score on a project or assignment and not have a clear picture as to why they were given that score. So when I’m making and using rubrics in my classroom, I’m always keeping in mind this #1 major rule . . .
This week’s contribution comes from Kansas Council for the Social Studies secretary Lori Rice. She teaches 4th grade at Wamego West Elementary school and is the 2018-19 KSDE Social Studies Teacher of the Year.
The time between the end of December and beginning of January is magical for teachers as schools across the state shut down for “WINTER BREAK”!! The alarms are shut off. The coffee is hot! And you may have even read a book that was simply for your own enjoyment or caught up on that Netflix/Hulu series you love. As with all good things, winter break must come to an end.
Over the next week, classes are starting back for teachers and students. Alarms are ringing, coffee is cooling and the responsibilities are mounting again. In classrooms, it is generally back to business as usual. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind as you gear up for the second semester: Continue reading Start the New (Finish the School) Year Strong→
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.