Category Archives: reading

Summer reading list 2015

beach reading

It’s a Wiebe tradition.

The annual summer reading list.

For as long as I’ve been in education, I’ve had a summer reading list. Several of my early mentors suggested that the summer is a perfect time for personal professional learning.Develop a list of professional and fun books. Commit to reading them. Talk about the content with others. I eventually came around to the idea and learned to love it.

My wife, also an educator, started doing it. Later, we passed on the idea to our kids. The cool thing is that we’re all still committed to it. The best summer was the year my wife and I took a tech naked trip to the beach. Without the internet, there’s was nothing to do but sit in the sand and read. Awesome.

Of course, in all of the years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve never actually finished the original list. Schedules change. Books aren’t as good as I had hoped. It’s easy to get sidetracked. Work. Travel. Family stuff. But the idea is still a good one. It makes us better educators. And isn’t that part of the job?

So even though I’m pretty sure I won’t finish it, I still make the list. Cause one of these years, it’s gonna happen. All the books, all the way through. Really. I’m serious. This year for sure.

The 2015 Summer Reading List

Continue reading Summer reading list 2015

Socrates, Plato, and Noble Puppies

We are fortunate to have another guest post from our KSDE Social Studies Consultant, Mr. Don Gifford.  Enjoy!

(And don’t forget to comment on the Flags post to win your own classroom flag.)

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When I was young, I really couldn’t read philosophy partly because they used really old language, really big words, and mostly because I knew so little about the world and of thinking about it. But recently I have returned to reading some of the classic works of political philosophy and ran across the description of Socrates’ ideas about education in Plato’s Republic.

In my role as an educational program consultant for the Kansas State Department of Education, I was intrigued with the education of what Socrates calls the “guardian class.”

Continue reading Socrates, Plato, and Noble Puppies

Trading Cards, ReadWriteThink, and the Common Core

trading card 1We’ve always asked our kids to read. Informational text. Primary sources. Non-fiction. Fiction. Poetry. We’ve always asked our kids to write. Summaries. Research. Reviews. Reaction papers.

At least, that’s been the theory. Good social studies and history instruction has always included these things but I think that sometimes we can forget how critical reading and writing skills are to what we do. The Common Core, for better or worse, has been a good reminder for us. We need to have our kids read, write, and communicate much more.

The problem for many of us?

Uh . . . what does that look like again?

Continue reading Trading Cards, ReadWriteThink, and the Common Core

Using elementary Evidence-Based Terms in social studies classrooms

evidence-based-terms2As we move into a social studies world that is asking kids to collect evidence, organize evidence, create products, and communicate results, writing skills are becoming more and more important.

But for the last ten years or so, at least in the state of Kansas, we’ve asked kids to focus instead on memorizing content. So now when we’re asking our middle school and high school students to not just write more but to use evidence while proving assertions, we get a lot of blank stares.

My suggestion?

Steal a practice used by a lot of elementary teachers and start training your secondary kids to use evidence-based terms while writing.

Evidence-based terms are simple phrases that support the use of, well . . . evidence. So if we ask kids to look a couple of primary source documents and develop a thesis from their analysis, they have some scaffolding to help them do that.

Examples of evidence-based terms? Continue reading Using elementary Evidence-Based Terms in social studies classrooms

The Dreaded Textbook

I would almost be willing to bet money on the fact that my student’s least favorite part of my class is when I say “grab your textbooks.”  The groans that echo around the room are enough to keep me from repeating that phrase very often, but I know my kids still need to learn how to use their textbooks, so I brave the sound effects every now and then.  What my students dread most is opening the book and silently reading hundreds of pages (or at least it feels like that many to them), so I try to find fun reading strategies to alleviate the amount of reading while still ensuring my kids are getting the information they need. Continue reading The Dreaded Textbook