Category Archives: Kansas Department of Education

Kansas teacher of the year winners, lots of social studies nerds, and a ton of learning

About 200 social studies teachers from around the state made their way to the Old Town Conference Center in downtown Wichita last Sunday and Monday for the annual state conference. If you were there, you know this already.

If you were not there . . . well, you missed a lot of social studies awesome. Seriously. Make plans for next year. Great conversations. Great learning. Great networking. Great food. Great people.

We know that Kansas does social studies a bit differently. Ever since 2013, when the latest state  standards document was released, teachers in the state are being asked to focus on five major themes and historical thinking skills rather than just teaching a bunch of dates and places. It’s the balance between process and knowledge that we’re after.

But doing things differently also extends to our state level conference. It seems that in most other states, the different social studies organizations host their own conferences. Econ here. Geo there. History somewhere else. Here in Kansas?

The four major social studies groups – the Kansas Council for Economic Education, the Kansas Council for History Education, the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, and the Kansas Geographic Alliance – all work together to host one conference a year. With the support and encouragement of the Kansas Department of Education, this makes it easier for K-12 teachers to find us all in the same place and increases the cumulative social studies goodness.

This encourages some awesome learning opportunities. It also makes for a great Sunday night reception when we honor all of our different teachers of the year. This year’s winners? Continue reading Kansas teacher of the year winners, lots of social studies nerds, and a ton of learning

Supporting New Colleagues

Whew! Kansas teachers have just about the first month of school under our belts. Heck, Homecoming is this weekend here in El Dorado. You may finally have the feeling that your feet are on solid ground, having made it through all the new faces, rosters, seating charts, data sorting, lesson planning, meet the teacher nights, etc. Of course, now we’re into our first big assignments to be graded, parent-teacher conferences are just around the corner and if you’re also coaching your away games mean at least one night a week is taken over by bus rides, encouragement and fast food. Now try to remember what it was like figuring it all out for the first time. Wow.

 

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We know that schools in Kansas haven’t exactly flourished in the past few years and that has really effected teachers. The Wichita NBC affiliate KSN ran a story that Kansas is down 1500 teachers for this school year. Is anyone surprised that our young people aren’t flocking to the profession? So I’m asking that if there are any new teachers in your building, please check in with them, even if they’re not a fellow social studies instructor (we’ll forgive them this once). Ask them if they need anything – help them navigate the teacher’s lounge, or share the trick about fixing a jam in the copier. Let them know there’s a lifeguard on duty in case they start to feel like they’re drowning.

We need to encourage and support our new colleagues so we don’t lose them; lock them in before they figure out there are actually jobs that end at 5:00 and have weekends off. In addition to personal outreach, there are a lot of good resources out there for new teachers to tap: Edutopia has a Toolkit for New Teachers, the National Education Association has a good selection of articles for new teachers on many of the issues that don’t necessarily get covered in university programs. Parent-teacher conferences are just around the corner and ASCD has a good set of guidelines to get them started.

There are also a wealth of networks new teachers can join that are on-going. You might have caught my post back in March on #sschat. They’ve seen the need and created the new hashtag #NTsschat just for New Teachers (NTs). The National Council for the Social Studies also has their Twitter account @NCSSNetwork and Facebook page and the Technology Community has the handle @TechNCSS.

In fact, @TechNCSS will be hosting a Twitter Chat of their own tomorrow (Tuesday, September 19) just for the problems faced by new teachers. Please encourage your new teachers to join us (once again, even if they’re not social studies, maybe learning about Twitter Chats will help them to find their way to one in their curriculum). You can feel free to join us if you want to help answer their questions or you’ve been interested in checking one out. This is one that will have a lot of basics if you want to lurk and pick up some new resources.

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Summer Road Trip – Have Fun And Get Some Professional Development

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This week’s blogger is Adam Topliff: He teaches 8th Grade Social Studies and Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  Adam loves all things Hamilton!

 

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Congratulations! You’ve made it to summer! Now take a deep breath and relax for moment.  You should allow yourself some quality time with your family, catch up on some reading (ask Glenn Wiebe if you are looking for some good reads), and maybe do some things to make yourself better at your craft.  

In recent years, summer professional development has become a popular trend and is taking on many forms.  There are great webinars and online opportunities.  Check out Twitter. You will find a great variety of chats and great people posting awesome ideas to steal.  You can partake in the face to face opportunities (insert my shameless plug for KSDE Summer Institutes) along with many other organizations that have great professional development options.  These might not be for you, either because of time or resources, but that does not mean you can’t get some quality professional development.

I love to use my summer family road trips to squeeze in some quality self-paced professional development.  Every summer, the Topliff Crew heads to a variety of places around this great state and nation to explore and expose our kids to as much as we can. This summer, we have planned four days in New York City and we are pretty pumped! Each year as we plan our trip, I look into what the area has to offer historically.  With New York City, the trip practically planned itself.  We included many things related to Hamilton, including a visit to the famed Fraunces Tavern. Continue reading Summer Road Trip – Have Fun And Get Some Professional Development