This week’s blogger is Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS. I love all things Hamilton!
So, it’s May… track meets, warm weather, field trips, crazy schedules, finals, and we’re supposed to keep kids engaged? Maybe one of the greatest challenges in education is the end of the year. How do we find creative ways to keep kids interested in learning.
One popular survival mechanism is plugging in a movie that is connected to your curriculum. Do you really think the kids will find it much fun to watch Gettysburg and complete a worksheet connected to the movie? Sometimes we are required to give a semester final, but to ask the kids to take a long drawn out test that you may not be interested in grading when the school year is done lacks a lot of appeal. Frankly, the last month of a school year can be a real struggle and make you feel like our friend pictured above, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You just need to inject a little creativity into your year-end routine.
This post is a little late but I’ve been hibernating; I hope you’re all keeping warm. If you’re using the cold weather day (wouldn’t it have been easier to post what schools stayed open?) to plan ahead or, if you’re reading this later, need something fast, I think I have something for you.
Kansas Day can be so much more than Sunflowers and Meadowlarks. Whether you want to a good lesson to incorporate Kansas into your regular curriculum to observe Kansas Day, or are making an effort to bring more local focus to your instruction.
I’d like to start with something I helped put together using a website called Thinglink. It’s free to get basic access and the tools let you create interactive photos, charts, etc. I took the Tallgrass Prairie Illustration below and added links to online articles and videos so students can learn more about our surroundings. Follow the link below the picture to see the interactive version.
If you like that tool, you might like some of the lessons from the Flint Hills Map Project and their Kansas Day Activities. Lots of good geography, science and even music and art ideas on their site to help your kids learn more about their home. The teachers on their advisory board (you guessed it, I’m one of them) met right after the winter break and as part of our meeting we put together a Kansas Day Pinterest Board if that’s more your speed.
If you’re not on the Kansas Historical Society’s mailing list you’re missing out on more tools to incorporate local history in your classroom. They have a whole page of ideas for Kansas Day in the classroom. I personally enjoy the online Carrie Nation exhibit with its teaching resources. There are a lot of resources at multiple levels that you can access. I’m also fond of the Read Kansas!cards for their versatility and availability for primary through middle school levels.
Remember, you don’t have to wait until Kansas Day to work more of the great history and resources of our state into your instruction. We are so much more than sunflowers and meadowlarks and we should share Kansas more with our students.
The National WWII Museum has an amazing opportunity for teachers this summer. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this! But hurry – the deadline for applications is February 1, 2018.
Explore World War II in New Orleans and Hawaii!
Applications for The National WWII Museum’s Summer Teacher Institute are now OPEN! This professional development experience for middle and high school social studies teachers includes a weeklong seminar at the Museum in New Orleans (July 22-28, 2018), plus a trip to explore WWII-related historic sites in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (July 21-27, 2019). This year’s institute focuses on the US Home Front, and will include seminar discussions with top WWII scholars, guided tours of the Museum’s innovative exhibits, artifact analysis, and interaction with WWII veterans. Participants receive up to six hours of graduate credit for participation. Travel, graduate tuition, and seminar materials are provided free of charge by the Museum. For full details and the application, visit nationalww2museum.org/institute.
Greetings, my fellow Kansans! With any luck the year has settled in for you. It has been a beautiful beginning, and the kids are just as wonderful as ever! My name is Jeff Benes and I am the Past President of the Missouri Council for the Social Studies. I live in Westwood, Kansas, but work in Gladstone, Missouri (be honest, how many of you had to Google those two locations). This school year, at the end of February, the Missouri Council is hosting our annual conference, and we wanted to reach out to you as neighbors and fellow teachers.
The conference will be held on the Missouri side of Kansas City, at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the weekend of February 23 and 24 (Friday and Saturday). If you have never had a chance to visit, this is the time. The museum itself is worth the weekend to come visit (and if you are a museum buff, you will need more than one day). On top of that, there will be great presentations in both content and practice, incredible speakers, a great lunch, and the opportunity to network with people just like you: Passionate teachers looking to hone their craft. Continue reading Balancing Security: Past, Present and Future→
We all know that travel can enrich our teaching, provide us with experiences that we bring back to our students to will help them to better grasp historical events and far flung locales. This fall I’m bringing Germany back to my students.
Mid-July and hot as an oven outside with just under a month until we report back for another school year. Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with your family and probably too the opportunity to partake of some professional development. If you stayed close to home I bet you checked out a Kansas Impact Institute, #ksedcamp and/or Podstock. If you decided to go a little farther afield you likely spent a week or three with the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Gilder-Lehrman, or any number of programs provided by foundations and museums around the country.
This summer, I had the honor of being selected a TOP Fellow. If you haven’t heard of the Transatlantic Outreach Program, please check them out; if you’ve attended one of their workshops or their reception at NCSS – you need to apply! TOP sends six groups of educators to Germany every summer for two week tours that are truly extraordinary. Every tour is tailored to the interests of the selected educators and lovingly crafted by one of the TOP employees who will guide your trip. Continue reading A TOP Experience→