One of the new initiatives in my school district during the 18-19 school year has been to begin a Project Based Learning community. This is a group of teachers who came in over the summer for two full days of training, and have continued to meet quarterly during the school year to learn about PBL together and support each other as they implement PBL in their own classrooms.
My mentor teacher, Kim Zielsdorf, teaches 7th Grade World Geography and Kansas History, and she jumped right into PBL from the beginning of the school year with a highly engaging, yet short and sweet project to introduce the students to the World Geography curriculum. Kim presented this question to the students: How big is 7.7 billion? The students then worked with partners to find creative ways to represent the global population. How long it would take Crayola to make 7.7 billion crayons, how far you would travel after taking 7.7 billion steps, each partnership came up with their own way to represent a number that is so high it can be hard to grasp.
Beginning the school year with a short PBL unit allowed the students a fun and engaging way to ease into the school year and get to know each other, while also giving Kim a chance to practice the fundamentals of PBL and learn more about her students’ interests through the decisions they made while completing the project. Do you use PBL in your classroom? What is your favorite PBL unit to teach? Share in the comments below!
This week’s post comes from Angela Howdeshell: I work as the Vice President for Programs and Administration for the Kansas Council for Economic Education, a non-profit organization housed at Wichita State University with a mission of helping Kansas K-12 schools integrate financial literacy and economic education.
Engage your students by integrating economics into your social studies classes! Any kindergarten teacher all the way to a high school history teachers is bound to find many places were economics can easily be expanded to add great value. The Council for Economic Education has simplified job by giving you the background and the lessons & activities. Take a few minutes this week to start reviewing the many free online lessons and professional development opportunities that have recently been added to www.EconEdLink.org. There is something for everyone and the new website features allow you to search by grade level, topic, subject, keyword and more! Be sure to join for free and you can save your favorites and receive updates on new opportunities for training.
Below is just a few examples of what you’ll find for pre-recorded webinars:
Check out the full list of upcoming webinars.
This week’s poster is our very own KCSS President, Thomas Fulbright: I have been teaching history at Hope Street Academy, a public charter school, in Topeka since 2008. My wife and I have three daughters, Claire, Nora, and Meredith. I intend to spend my entire life convincing them how exciting and important history is! My bio picture is of Claire and I meeting President Lincoln!
I will start this post with an apology. Last March I made another post advocating for a different approach to teaching history. It seems unreasonable for me to now suggest that approach could be improved. Here is the thing though, even if you are doing something in your classroom that you believe is working well, you can’t help but notice things (some little, some large) that can improve your approach. Good teachers are always searching to find ways to improve their pedagogy, which I assume is why you (I will venture another assumption: you are a good teacher because you use this site!) are reading this blog.
In my last post I discussed teaching history through the use of a simulation of Congress. I gave students a bill from the past, then had them “cast a vote” on the bill by writing an argumentative essay using evidence from the time period (speeches delivered in Congress, newspaper articles, editorial cartoons, etc.) to justify their “vote”. The last part of the process was I had students make a “Contemporary Connection” by reading an NPR article about a similar policy debate being had today in Washington. Students then had to decide if they support or oppose today’s policy. Lastly, they then had to make a comparison to their opinion on the past policy debate with their opinion on the policy debate today. For example; students would have to account for why they had “voted” in favor of H.R.5804 (which became the “Chinese Exclusion Act”), but were then opposed to restrictive immigration policies today? Continue reading Why does what happened in 1890 still matter (Version 2.0)
“This is not a black holiday; it is a people’s holiday,” said Coretta Scott King after President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983.
The lesson plans below are great resources that you can use to help teach your students the history surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the man himself.
What lessons or activities do you use in your classroom, around this holiday, to help educate your students on the importance of this day?
In 1953, Emporia, Kansas native Alvin J. King proposed that Armistice Day be changed to Veterans Day to recognize and honor all veterans from all wars and conflicts. The first Veterans Day was organized and celebrated in Emporia later that year. Kansas representative Ed Rees, also from Emporia, took King’s proposal to Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (also from Kansas) signed the bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day.
The first nationwide observance of Veterans Day was on November 11, 1954. Every year since, the President of the United States urges all Americans to honor the commitment of our Veterans through appropriate public ceremonies (from the Emporia Visitors Bureau).
Below are resources and lesson plans that can be used in your classroom to help teach your students about Veterans Day: