Category Archives: Uncategorized

2022 Kansas Social Studies Conference (Did I mention it’s free?)

As a member and current president of the Kansas Council for Social Studies, the working relationship between the professional Social Studies organizations in Kansas is one that I deeply cherish and am proud to be a part of. This network of professionals has helped transform my teaching practice and feeds my teacher soul.

The four groups dedicated to serving the teachers of Kansas are:

  • Kansas Council for History Education
  • Kansas Geography Alliance 
  • Kansas Council for Economic Education
  • Kansas Council for Social Studies 

The cool thing is that while we all have a specific area of focus, we all have one common goal – sharing our love of history, government, and economics with the teachers, students, and communities of Kansas. One way we do that is to co-host a yearly social studies conference. And we were all desperately hoping to be able to provide an in-person conference this year. 

Unfortunately that just isn’t possible yet. (Curse you Omicron.) So the members of the four groups rose to the challenge and have come together to provide a free online learning conference that will meet the needs of teachers just like you.

The bonus? Anyone can attend! Not a Kansas social studies teacher? We’d love to have you be part of the experience! 

So whether you’re wanting to dive deeper into learning about indigenous Identity with Dr. Brandon Haddock, explore geography through the lens of a zombie apocalypse, dive into economic policy, or attend a wide variety of other breakout sessions with teaching strategies to help you “take it up a notch,”  we’ve got something for you. 

And . . . just a reminder. It’s free

Here’s the breakdown. Things kick off today and continue for the next month with a series of workshops and sessions – all offered online. (Did I mention they’re all free?)

Getting signed up for any or all of these virtual sessions is super easy. Sign up for one, or all, depending on your schedule and desire. You’ll receive a Zoom link prior to each session. Easy peasy.

I’m planning to attend as many sessions as I can and look forward to meeting all of you. I’m especially excited about my own session on February 16th! I will be sharing the evening with Essdack consultant and KCSS past president Glenn Wiebe, current KCSS vice president TJ Warsnak, high school social studies rock star Derek Schutte, and Institute for Curriculum Services Consultant Erika Lowery. 

I”ll be talking about ways to facilitate classroom discussions around contemporary issues and am looking forward to sharing some awesome strategies! Glenn, TJ, Derek, and Erika will make it tough for you to choose with three other awesome sessions! Feel free to bounce around from session to session. (We’ll be sure to include all of the resources here at Doing Social Studies and on our KCSS website so you’re guaranteed to have access to all the resources!)

  • Using Online Geo Tools to Enhance Your Instruction and Make Your Kids Smarter
    Glenn Wiebe
  • 3 Guys and a Textbook: A Lighthearted Look At Increasing Engagement (for mature audiences only!)
    TJ Warsnak and Derek Schutte 
  • Exploring Strategies for Analyzing Primary Sources
    Erika Lowery

Don’t forget to register! (And don’t forget the free part!). 

Hope to see you there!

Jill Weber

Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 4 – “The Classroom Based State Assessment”


Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.

(This is the final installment of a four part series. Get Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.)

Commissioner Randy Watson has approved a project to bring the History, Government, and Social Studies state assessment out of the box and to embed the state assessment into what good teachers are doing in their classrooms every day.  

This is an ambitious undertaking and a bit frightful but in the KSDE spirit of redesign and the moon shot goal of “leading the world in the success of each student,” we’re moving forward. We have already enlisted more than 30 educators to help us through this difficult work. (If you are interested in helping with this process, e-mail me.)  

We’ve been working on performance level descriptions (PLDs) which describe what a student should know and be able to do at the end of elementary, middle, and high school. We have just started to work on rigorous task rubrics for the assessment and will begin soon to write sample tasks. The goal will be to pilot the sample tasks this semester so that we will have examples, student work, and exemplars for scoring available for teachers.  

What will the assessment work?  Continue reading Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 4 – “The Classroom Based State Assessment”

We The People of the United States, In Order to Teach on Constitution Day, Need Some Great Resources!



Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd lobbied for a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and learn more about our founding document. Senator Byrd once said, “Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world.”

He added the Constitution Day clause to his 2004 federal spending bill because he believed that all citizens should know about their rights as outlined in the Constitution. This clause mandates the teaching of the Constitution in schools that receive federal funds, as well as federal agencies.

Need some ideas? Start with these:

What are you planning on doing in your classroom for Constitution Day?  Share your resources in the comments section below!

You Sorry Sack of Slugs! I Want YOU to Think Historically

Jill Weber is a middle and high school teacher in Cheney, Kansas. Today she’s sharing about the Historical Thinking Boot Camp she takes her kids through every August.

A few years ago I completely reworked the start of my school year with my 7th grade students. I found that social studies was changing. It wasn’t just dates and facts that needed to be memorized. High level analysis and thinking were now in the picture. These are skills students don’t come in knowing how to do. They needed training.

So I developed a Historical Thinking Boot Camp for the first couple weeks in August. Primary sources, contextualize, corroboration, making a claim, detecting bias . . . these are BIG terms for the little green students I have walking in my door. The LAST thing I want to do is overwhelm them with boring vocabulary worksheets and lectures.

So instead they get this:

Curious? You can still access my original blog post about the Boot Camp.

Here’s the deal, guys and gals. This is my most requested material. I give it away for free. And this year, I will be presenting my Boot Camp at the Kansas Social Studies Conference on Sunday, October 28th. You’ll get a FRONT ROW SEAT to my latest Boot Camp updates, copies, what works, what doesn’t, examples, and the chance for some great Q & A to help you walk through it all.

All you have to do is show up. Head over to register for this year’s conference and get the early bird pricing at the conference website.

Seriously . . . showing up at the conference gets you into some MAJOR sessions including:

  • Stanford History Education Group executive director and guru Joel Breakstone sharing historical thinking and online literacy tools (The SHEG stuff is awesome and helps support a lot of my Boot Camp.)
  • Information about the 2020 social studies state assessment from KSDE consultant Don Gifford
  • #Buzzworthy classroom resources from teacher rock stars Derek Schutte and T.J. Warsnak
  • And much, MUCH, MORE! It’s the BEST money your district will spend on social studies PD all year. Get there!

(PS . . . the video is an example of me completely out of my comfort zone. I hate watching myself on tape. But I ask my students to step outside their comfort zones. Every. Single. Day. It’s only fair that I should too.)

*Look for part 2 of Don Gifford’s series on assessments on Wednesday. We thought Jill’s boot camp was too good and timely so we preempted all that assessment talk.

Good Historical Thinking Begins With The Right Question


This week’s poster is Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  I love all things Hamilton!

It’s almost that time again, school is just around the corner.  Time to unpack your classrooms, create your new catchy bulletin boards and really think about lesson planning.  The unpacking and bulletin boards seems to always go quicker and with much less stress. However, the planning of how to kick off school and reflecting on the design and layout of what we explore throughout the year can sometime be a bit overwhelming.  The most important thing I think about in lesson design is not the fun activities or exploration, but the question. To create classrooms that engage in good historical thinking we have to develop the right question or questions from the very beginning.  So what are the right types of questions? Let’s explore . . . 

  • The Google Factor
    The discussion about questions that kids can Google the answer is not something new.  So this is a just a short reminder, don’t create questions for your kids to investigate that can be Googled and answered in just a couple of minutes.  Check out Glenn Wiebe’s post on his History Tech Blog that sheds more light in creating the UnGoogleable question. “If they can Google it, why do they need you?”
  • The C3 Inquiry
    If you have never spent some time investigating the C3 Framework and its Inquiry Arc you need to get over there.  Developed by NCSS to assist states in creating curriculum, the C3 Inquiry Arc begins first with developing solid inquiry based questions.

Inquiry Arc Format


In developing questions the Inquiry Arc asks that you have questions that will compel students to use multiple Social Studies disciplines and use evidence/sources in drawing a conclusion.  So when you think about your question, do they require your kids to do this?

  • Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
    Good news – if you are struggling to figure out what to ask, there are great resources that have pre-created inquiry based questions.  The New York State Social Studies K-12 Resource Kit provides a great site that you can search by grade level and topics. Once you find a an inquiry that might fit what you are looking for, you can quickly download the entire Inquiry Arc with all the compelling questions and formative type of activities that can be used in class. NYC Inquiries You also can create an account and create your own inquiries using their resources and push it out digitally to your students.  

Gilder Lehrman has a amazing list of inquiry based questions that are listed in chronological order and allow for great historical investigation and discussion – “Essential Questions in Teaching American History”

So as you kick off the school year and begin unpacking your lesson plans don’t forget to start with just the right question.