Category Archives: civics

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.

Starting Social Studies

IMG_9723Lori 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.


green and gray scissors

The beginning of the school year brings excitement and anxiety for teachers and students alike.  It is a year of new possibility, new classmates and new opportunities.

Every school year I start with lists.  I have a list of school supplies I need to buy and hunt down at sales. I have a list of things to do to prepare and organize my classroom for a new set of students and families. Then there is the coveted class list. We get our elementary list in August.

When I receive my class list every year, I look at it with curiosity and a little worry. Who are these children coming into my room?  What experiences do they bring to our room? What experiences are they lacking? How have they been taught in previous years? Where do they go home each night? Will I be able to provide all they need?
Building a classroom community is the most important part of the first weeks of school.

gray swing

It takes time for students to build relationships and trust within the classroom walls we will spend our next nine months. Being a social studies teacher, it is so simple to intertwine my curriculum from the first day into the discussions, activities, and lessons we do from the start. The HGSS standards and social/emotional skills can be taught at every grade level and woven into literature, art, music, and especially classroom management.

There are many great picture books and chapter books to start the year with. I use Absolutely Almost or Wonder as a great read aloud to start discussions about differences and strengths. I have been teaching fourth grade for twelve years and this is my twenty-fourth year in education. We all have our favorite lessons. These are two that I love starting the year with: Continue reading Starting Social Studies