Category Archives: civics

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

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!