Category Archives: Lori Rice

A teacher’s path to continuous learning

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Lori Rice teaches fourth grade at West Elementary in Wamego and is the current Kansas Council for the Social Studies elementary teacher of the year. You can find Lori on Twitter at @MsLRice. She also blogs on all things teaching (not just social studies) at The Educator’s Room.


Twenty years ago, I took a special education class for my undergraduate degree.  I have been teaching in the regular education classroom ever since then, and have honed my craft each year. Each new class and school-year brings with it new challenges, and so my learning continues as well.  However, I could have never foreseen this year’s learning curve. I would have never guessed a month ago that I would spend the last nine weeks, with this class, in a completely new classroom, a virtual world, where my honed skills had to be pushed, restructured and reimagined to conclude the year with continuous learning.

Twenty years ago, in that special education class (which I don’t recall the title of), the instructor shared a poem, Welcome to Holland , written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a beautiful prose about becoming a parent.

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The journey in that poem described by Kingsley, was a brilliant metaphor comparing the excitement of becoming a new parent to planning a trip to Italy.  Teachers, just like new parents, are planners, but those plans don’t always work out. This school year we have implemented ¾ of our plans with our current classroom, however, the plans suddenly changed a month ago.

As in the poem, the plans we made no longer work.  The curriculum, field trips, and activities we had planned all school year long, are just out of our grasp.  These are the things we’ve always looked forward to.  The excitement and joy of teaching in the spring is always a highlight.  New teachers are wrapping up their first year with reflections of successes and failures they will use to strengthen their craft next year.  Veteran teachers are longing for traditions and classroom activities that bring smiles and further build community within the classroom as the school year winds down.  The journey had been planned.

In her poem, Kingsley writes: Continue reading A teacher’s path to continuous learning

Blooming in Social Studies

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Lori Rice teaches fourth grade at West Elementary in Wamego and is the current Kansas Council for the Social Studies elementary teacher of the year. You can find Lori on Twitter at @MsLRice. She also blogs on all things teaching (not just social studies) at The Educator’s Room.


Our world is changing; looking different today than ever before. In this evolving environment it is more important today than ever before to develop citizens who are prepared to take on the challenges our society is dealing with.  We need students who are able to understand the past and use this knowledge to apply, create and synthesize solutions for tomorrow.

In 1956 under the title, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain, Bloom’s taxonomy was published with an idea of giving educators a common bank of items to be used in assessments.  Forty-five years later, in 2001, this framework was reevaluated as Bloom realized it could reach beyond assessment purposes. He believed it could serve as a common language for learning objectives across curricular areas. During this time of revision a few of the categories shifted.  “Understand” was a verb used over and over by educators so this replaced “comprehension” and with this the nouns were changed to verbs. Lastly, evaluation and synthesis switched places making synthesizing the highest level; however, it was changed to “create”.

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Bloom’s has been used across classrooms for years.  Adding a layer of technology to this chart allows students to remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create in ways that are meaningful and fun.  This increases the engagement and retention of ideas and content from the classroom. Here are a few apps and websites to check out for each classification of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Continue reading Blooming in Social Studies

App Up Your Social Studies

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Lori Rice teaches fourth grade at West Elementary in Wamego and is the current Kansas Council for the Social Studies elementary teacher of the year. You can find Lori on Twitter at @MsLRice. She also blogs on all things teaching (not just social studies) at The Educator’s Room.


Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative Einstein_1921_by_F_Schmutzer_-_restorationexpression and knowledge.”   There is a never ending demand teachers in a classroom; things to change, things to learn, and things to implement.  Mobile devices are a wonderful tool in a teacher’s tool belt of knowledge. Bringing apps into your social studies classroom will enable you to continue with proven teaching strategies while opening the doors to learning for your students.

I recently had a conversation with a friend.  We were discussing high school and remembering funny anecdotes and stories of our past.  I mentioned I had a social studies teacher I did not care for and I struggled in this class.  The struggle was my engagement, not the grade. The class was simply boring. My friend also remembered that social studies was one of his least favorite subjects in school as well.  There is an irony in the fact that a subject full of stories, history and culture would be boring.

Teaching is an art and a science.  There are many proven strategies that can be used to increase student motivation and learning.  As an educator, it is our job to allow for expression and creativity in learning. “App Up Your Social Studies” will bring a connection to proven strategies and apps that allow for creativity.

Using Bloom’s taxonomy in a classroom where students feel connected and safe is a wonderful tool.  We will explore apps that can be used to help students analyze, evaluate and create to demonstrate their understanding of their social studies content. These apps will allow you to expand on what you are already doing in your curriculum.

Along with Bloom’s, we will also explore Marzano’s instructional strategies of summarizing and note taking (having a 34% gain in student learning), nonlinguistic representation (having a 27% gain in student learning), and asking questions (having a 22% gain in student learning).*  We will use apps to allow students to sketch their learning and ask higher level questions. How powerful would our world be if our students had a deep understanding of our social studies standards along with a passion for other cultures and relationships?

Social studies is the stories of our past and our cultures.  This can be personal past and culture, recent past and culture, or ancient past and culture.  Helping students understand their own stories and connections to the stories of others allows for empathy.  Apping up your social studies will allow students to explore, analyze, evaluate and create. So reflect on what you are already doing and join me to explore how to bring apps into your classroom for social studies fun!

Sound interesting? You can see Lori live next Monday at the Kansas Social Studies Conference at 2:10pm!

Starting Social Studies

IMG_9723Lori Rice teaches fourth grade at West Elementary in Wamego and is the current Kansas Council for the Social Studies elementary teacher of the year. You can find Lori on Twitter at @MsLRice. She also blogs on all things teaching (not just social studies) at The Educator’s Room.


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The beginning of the school year brings excitement and anxiety for teachers and students alike.  It is a year of new possibility, new classmates and new opportunities.

Every school year I start with lists.  I have a list of school supplies I need to buy and hunt down at sales. I have a list of things to do to prepare and organize my classroom for a new set of students and families. Then there is the coveted class list. We get our elementary list in August.

When I receive my class list every year, I look at it with curiosity and a little worry. Who are these children coming into my room?  What experiences do they bring to our room? What experiences are they lacking? How have they been taught in previous years? Where do they go home each night? Will I be able to provide all they need?
Building a classroom community is the most important part of the first weeks of school.

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It takes time for students to build relationships and trust within the classroom walls we will spend our next nine months. Being a social studies teacher, it is so simple to intertwine my curriculum from the first day into the discussions, activities, and lessons we do from the start. The HGSS standards and social/emotional skills can be taught at every grade level and woven into literature, art, music, and especially classroom management.

There are many great picture books and chapter books to start the year with. I use Absolutely Almost or Wonder as a great read aloud to start discussions about differences and strengths. I have been teaching fourth grade for twelve years and this is my twenty-fourth year in education. We all have our favorite lessons. These are two that I love starting the year with: Continue reading Starting Social Studies

Start the New (Finish the School) Year Strong

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This week’s contribution comes from Kansas Council for the Social Studies secretary Lori Rice. She teaches 4th grade at Wamego West Elementary school and is the 2018-19 KSDE Social Studies Teacher of the Year.


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The time between the end of December and beginning of January is magical for teachers as schools across the state shut down for “WINTER BREAK”!! The alarms are shut off. The coffee is hot! And you may have even read a book that was simply for your own enjoyment or caught up on that Netflix/Hulu series you love. As with all good things, winter break must come to an end.

Over the next week, classes are starting back for teachers and students. Alarms are ringing, coffee is cooling and the responsibilities are mounting again.  In classrooms, it is generally back to business as usual. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind as you gear up for the second semester: Continue reading Start the New (Finish the School) Year Strong