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.
Glenn Wiebe was digging around the vault over at History Tech looking for some resources centered around the Kansans Can school redesign and ran across this rant written just after the 2013 state standards went live. With those standards currently in the revision process and the state of Kansas deep into conversations about changing how we do school, it seems appropriate to re-post it here. Basically, it boils down to:
How much are we willing to change so that our kids are prepared for their future?
It’s been a fun couple of months since the holiday break. I’ve had the chance to spend time with a variety of folks doing all sorts of cool stuff. A group of us have been struggling to write questions for the social studies state assessment pilot due out this spring.
I’ve spent time with teachers discussing social studies best practices that are aligned to the state’s recently adopted state standards. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of teachers as we shared ideas and discussed ways to integrate technology into instruction.
It’s all part of what is perhaps the best job in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves spending time with dedicated, amazing people who are literally changing the world?
But . . . sometimes I walk away feeling a little uncomfortable after spending time with teachers. Once in a great while, I leave a group angry. And while I honestly think I do a good job of hiding my feelings, I’m starting to think those feelings need to be a bit more obvious.
Still on the fence about the 2018 Kansas Social Studies Conference? Not sure about meeting and listening to Joel Breakstone from the Stanford History Education Group share ways to engage kids in online civic literacy? Thinking about whether or not asking Don Gifford from KSDE questions about the new and improved state standards and assessments? Perhaps the free food and drinks at Sunday’s evening reception just hasn’t been enough to jumpstart your registration process.
Maybe all you need is the chance to listen to a couple of the many awesome presenters who’ll be sharing their best stuff at the conference.
Casey Krouse and Dylan Owings from Pleasant Ridge Middle School in Overland Park are asking their students to think about and solve authentic problems – like the problem facing the Pacific island country of Kiribati. Rising ocean levels are erasing areas of land and could soon engulf the entire nation. Their students are attacking the problem by using Design Thinking.
During their conference presentation on Monday, October 29, 2018 at 10:30am, Casey and Dylan will share their lessons and instructional designs. So. Are you looking for a new way to address climate change in the classroom? Curious about the Design process? In their hands-on lessons, students work through Stanford’s Design Thinking Process to develop empathy for Pacific Islanders affected by sea level rise and engage in real world problem solving. Come learn more about how you can adapt their lessons to your classroom.
During a recent trip through different parts of Texas, I got the chance to lead several teacher conversations around these three questions. We worked together to share strategies and resources designed around creating knowledgeable, thinking, and active citizens.
With a specific goal of training our kids to be effective consumers of online information. So our conversation wasn’t just about fake news – it was also about online civic literacy.