Category Archives: technology

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!

Using single-point rubrics & Checkmark to make your life easier & your kids smarter

We’ve all been there. You just finished putting together a great instructional lesson or unit. Kids are gonna love it. They’re working together. Doing research. Creating stuff, not just consuming it. The historical thinking will be off the charts.

Then you realize . . . you haven’t created the rubric yet.

You know that clear expectations and feedback are critically important to the learning process. You know that rubrics can help you in assessing what students know and are able to do. So you sit back down and eventually decide to use four scoring columns instead of five. Six rows of criteria instead of three. Clear descriptors. Nine point font all crammed into your matrix so that it fits on one page. Definitely tons of feedback gonna happen from this beauty.

But it’s worth it, right?

Mmm . . . using a great rubric can speed up the grading and assessment process but they can also create other issues besides the amount of time it takes to create them. A student shows creativity way beyond what the rubric asks for in a way that you hadn’t anticipated and your columns and rows aren’t able to reward that. Or a kid spells everything correctly but the grammar and punctuation is terrible. Maybe she nails the document analysis but fails to use evidence in her claims and your rubric has those two things together.

And is there any way – other than individual conferences – to really know whether students actually go deeper into your scored rubric than to look at the final grade circled in the bottom left hand corner?

Yes, analytic rubrics are useful. I’m not saying rubrics shouldn’t be part of your assessment toolkit. They can help you develop and create assignments that are aligned to your end in mind. They can provide clear expectations for students and a way to share feedback. But they can also be difficult to design correctly and may seem so overwhelming to students that the expected feedback we want never really sinks in.

And, sure, holistic versions are much quicker to create and use. So that’s nice. But they fail to provide specific and targeted feedback. You get a kid who wants to know why they got a two instead of a three or worse, he won’t ask at all. Missing the whole point of providing feedback in the first place.

So . . . why not look at a third way to the rubric game? And use some tech to make it even better? Continue reading Using single-point rubrics & Checkmark to make your life easier & your kids smarter

“You’re starting to make me cranky.”

Glenn Wiebe was digging around the vault over at History Tech looking for some resources centered around the Kansans Can school redesign and ran across this rant written just after the 2013 state standards went live. With those standards currently in the revision process and the state of Kansas deep into conversations about changing how we do school, it seems appropriate to re-post it here. Basically, it boils down to:

How much are we willing to change so that our kids are prepared for their future?

It’s been a fun couple of months since the holiday break. I’ve had the chance to spend time with a variety of folks doing all sorts of cool stuff. A group of us have been struggling to write questions for the social studies state assessment pilot due out this spring.

I’ve spent time with teachers discussing social studies best practices that are aligned to the state’s recently adopted state standards. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of teachers as we shared ideas and discussed ways to integrate technology into instruction.

It’s all part of what is perhaps the best job in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves spending time with dedicated, amazing people who are literally changing the world?

But . . . sometimes I walk away feeling a little uncomfortable after spending time with teachers. Once in a great while, I leave a group angry. And while I honestly think I do a good job of hiding my feelings, I’m starting to think those feelings need to be a bit more obvious.

Change is difficult. I understand that. And society already asks teachers to be superheroes. But it still bothers me when I hear teachers say things like: Continue reading “You’re starting to make me cranky.”

Summer Professional Development . . . on Instagram?

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Teacher Perks: “You get summers off.”

How many times have you had someone outside the education profession say this to you? If you are reading this blog post, chances are you know that it’s really not true. You probably know that teachers use these precious summer months to recharge, refuel, and LEARN. We strive to find ways to perfect our craft and answer questions that came up over the past school year.

This is the first summer that I did not physically attend multiple professional development conferences or workshops in June and July. I say “physically” because looking back on the past few months, I do feel that I attended professional development in a new and different way. Over the past year, I have found a new community on Instagram.

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This community is filled with educators from all different content areas and age ranges. Educators are posting lesson plan ideas, classroom management strategies, classroom organization tips, and even personal stories and experiences. Many of them have stores on Teachers Pay Teachers, blogs, or vlogs and are sharing content / pedagogical strategies for the world to access at our finger tips.

How to Get Started

I first started by creating a separate account just for my education world. I tried to Continue reading Summer Professional Development . . . on Instagram?

(Pull It, Twist It, Bop It) Flip It: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

The tired stereotype of the history teacher at the front of the room lecturing from bell to bell, droning on about nothing but names, places, and dates, and never noticing the kids sleeping in the back row needs to be thrown out the window!  In its place, how about a teacher that never lectures but instead provides students time to work hands on with the content and apply their learning from bell to bell?

With Flipped Learning, this is possible in every social studies classroom!

 

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https://www.slu.edu/cttl/resources/teaching-tips-and-resources/flipped-classroom-resources

Continue reading (Pull It, Twist It, Bop It) Flip It: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom