Category Archives: Kansas Department of Education

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)

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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)

Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 4 – “The Classroom Based State Assessment”

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Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.

(This is the final installment of a four part series. Get Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.)


Commissioner Randy Watson has approved a project to bring the History, Government, and Social Studies state assessment out of the box and to embed the state assessment into what good teachers are doing in their classrooms every day.  

This is an ambitious undertaking and a bit frightful but in the KSDE spirit of redesign and the moon shot goal of “leading the world in the success of each student,” we’re moving forward. We have already enlisted more than 30 educators to help us through this difficult work. (If you are interested in helping with this process, e-mail me.)  

We’ve been working on performance level descriptions (PLDs) which describe what a student should know and be able to do at the end of elementary, middle, and high school. We have just started to work on rigorous task rubrics for the assessment and will begin soon to write sample tasks. The goal will be to pilot the sample tasks this semester so that we will have examples, student work, and exemplars for scoring available for teachers.  

What will the assessment work?  Continue reading Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 4 – “The Classroom Based State Assessment”

Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 3 – “The Quality of Classroom Based State Assessment”

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Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.


So in Part One, we recognized that the state HGSS assessment wasn’t aligned with good instruction and in Part Two, we identified that the feedback came too late to inform that instruction.

In Part One, we imagined an assessment that was aligned to the instructional strategies already being employed in good social studies classrooms.  What if we took what teachers were already doing and made those rigorous lessons work as the state HGSS assessment? In Part Two, we talked about how the state HGSS assessment could be used by teachers and students to actually inform teaching and learning. In Part Three, Continue reading Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 3 – “The Quality of Classroom Based State Assessment”