Category Archives: Kansas Department of Education

Classroom Based Assessments – Where to start

As we reboot Doing Social Studies, we’d love to introduce you to this month’s author, Nathan McAlister.

Nathan McAlister is the Humanities Program Manager – History, Government, and Social Studies with the Kansas State Department of Education. Prior to taking his current position Nathan taught middle and high school social studies for 24 years. Nathan’s past students have created and led several civic and historical preservation projects. These include three pieces of Kansas Legislation, a Civil War mural, a Civil War Veterans Kansas preservation project, many National History Day projects, and four award-winning Lowell Milken for Unsung Heroes projects.

In 2010, Nathan was named Kansas and National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. Nathan has also been named a Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Master Teacher Fellow, Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, Fellow, and a George Washington Library, Lifeguard Teacher Fellow.  

So, you need to design a CBA? You have an idea, check. You have an outcome the students need to meet, check. You even have the work days mapped and planned, check. But where do I find the necessary materials to either curate the sources myself or send the students to curate sources themselves? Additionally, if I am curating the sources can I use excerpts? Still further, if I use excerpts, how much is too much to cut? My goal, for this blog post is twofold. One, offer examples of websites to use in your classroom, and two, provide a few rules to guide your excerpting of documents.

Let’s get started.

Continue reading Classroom Based Assessments – Where to start

Doing Social Studies Reboot: Our New Normal

Whelp, teaching in Kansas and across the country has changed due to COVID-19. Governor Laura Kelly made the decision to close our physical buildings through the end of the school year, but her prioritizing safety did not bring an end to the education of our students.

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on

If any state was ready to adapt to a change like this, it’s Kansas. Already in the process of school redesign, this is a challenge that Kansas is uniquely prepared to face. The Kansas Department of Education’s Continuous Learning Task Force set out guidelines for schools with the direction that districts should interpret them in the manner that will work best for their students. Most districts are taking this additional week following Governor Kelly’s announcement to make these decisions and meet with their teachers on what school is going to look like for the remainder of 2019-2020.

We’ve got this, and KCSS and Doing Social Studies is going to do all we can to help. The resources are coming at us like a fire hose, and that’s great, but we’ve got to be smart. The NCSS Technology Community has pulled on their experience and resources to come up with these tips as you wade into the new normal.

TechNCSS Tips

As your Doing Social Studies community figures out their own classrooms we’ll share with you what we’re doing and the resources that we’ve found the most helpful.

Hang in there, we’ve got this: #KansasCan

State of the Social Studies

TomClairAbeThis week’s post comes from Thomas Fulbright, current KCSS president and history teacher at Hope Street Academy, a public charter school in Topeka since 2008. Thomas intends “to spend my entire life convincing them how exciting and important history is.”  His bio picture is daughter Claire and Thomas  meeting President Lincoln.

This past July, I attended a Library of Congress Primary Source SummitTF NameTag hosted by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies.  We covered a number of topics beyond just social studies pedagogy with a focus on the use of primary sources. By the end of the summit I was feeling good about the State of the Social Studies in Kansas, and in addition, reinvigorated in my personal purpose for teaching social studies.  Let me tell you why & hopefully you will feel the same way (sorry you couldn’t come with me to Minnesota).

First – the State of the Social Studies. Continue reading State of the Social Studies

Happy Constitution Day! (And don’t forget Celebrate Freedom Week if you’re in Kansas)


Just a reminder that there is a federal regulation concerning Constitution Day (September 17) and state legislation here in Kansas highlighting Celebrate Freedom Week.  Please be advised.

If you teach K-8th grade, you’ll need to incorporate the Celebrate Freedom topics into your instruction this week or the week designated by your district for these observances. EVERYBODY has the opportunity to celebrate the Constitution today.

Want the details? The federal regs: Continue reading Happy Constitution Day! (And don’t forget Celebrate Freedom Week if you’re in Kansas)