Category Archives: Uncategorized

Good Historical Thinking Begins With The Right Question

adam-topliff

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.

NCSS President’s Farewell

Below you will find the farewell from the outgoing President of our national organization, Terry Cherry.


TCherry_OnStage2

June 30, will end my term as President of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).  The time I spent as President has been a roller coaster ride, with highs, lows, twists, and loops. As the ride ends, I am glad I went on it and would do it over again if I could.

NCSS is approaching its 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2020.  That year our country will also elect a president, participate in the summer Olympics in Japan, celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and certainty witness other major events.

To prepare for NCSS’ second hundred years, I have been explaining to members that it is time for some changes.  We can no longer be an organization that only supports conferences and publications. Larry Paska, the NCSS Executive Director, and the NCSS staff are reaching out beyond our social studies education communities to share our message and build new partnerships.  Larry understands, as we all do, that NCSS has a message, which needs to be heard by everyone.

As we approach our centennial, NCSS needs to consider what its future vision and mission should be. Is it time for a name change?  NCSS has some international ties and those need to be expanded. This would require to use the term International. The term social studies is mostly used in the United States.  Other countries use the term social science.  There are some states that now are replacing social studies with social science.  International Council of the Social Science or something close to that needs to be our new name taking into our bicentennial.

Last September NCSS board of directors held its first-ever meeting in conjunction with a state council.  Cincinnati, Ohio hosted the Ohio Council for the Social Studies and the NCSS board met during the conference.  This allowed social science educators to meet the NCSS board members and allowed board members to participate in a state council conference.  I do hope this pattern continues of engaging NCSS board members with state council members during a state conference.

The bulk of NCSS membership is classroom teachers approximately 88%. The remaining members come from Associated Groups. This year the Board of Directors  has reached out to our Associated Groups more fully than in the recent past. They were included in our March board meeting. The Associated Groups have been given 4 positions on the Nominations and Elections Committee.  In the next few years board positions could be exclusively from members of the four groups.

Is this a positive move or not?  That is something you as a NCSS member need to consider. Representation of all NCSS members is important. A balanced representation is also important.

The future of NCSS depends on each member. You as an NCSS member are also an ambassador of our discipline.  Telling people who we are, explaining the importance of social science in the curriculum, and reminding everyone that we teach citizenship.  NCSS is working on giving you the tools to share our message. We welcome any suggestions, ideas, and methods on ways to promote your organization.

During the 2017-2018 year some accomplishments have been:  

  Hiring a Director of Marketing & Membership and a Youth Engagement Program Manager to expand our marketing and Rho Kappa programs, and re-structuring a department built on member services.

  Revising several other positions, including a Membership Program Manager, Member Engagement Program Manager, and a Meetings & Education Program Manager.

  Expanding membership options to include Online and Premium Memberships, and joint memberships with Affiliated Councils and the National Council for Geographic Education.

  Building a new Institutional Membership option for services offered to organizations, starting Summer 2018.

  Building new subscription services to promote individual benefits to the general public, starting Summer 2018.

  Launching a monthly webinar series for leadership groups to connect with each other and strengthen our internal professional learning network.

  Creating new partnerships with education associations and institutions to expand professional learning, networking, and membership options.

  Increasing the frequency of issues for The Social Studies Professional, communications with leadership groups, and social media engagement.

I ask that you welcome and support our new NCSS President beginning July 1, India Meissel. One of the best ways to support the new president and NCSS is to sign up to attend our annual National Conference in Chicago, November28-December2.  Registration is now open on the NCSS website http://www.socialstudies.org/conference.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President. The ride is slowing down and the end is in sight.  But there are other rides to take for you and me within the NCSS. May you as an NCSS member find your special ride, use your gifts and talents as together we build NCSS into an International organization.  Together we seek ways to promote NCSS as the only organization to representing social science educators. At the end of our ride, we can say we helped the world to know the importance of social science in the lives of students and adults.

Terry Cherry

NCSS President 2017-2018

We’re giving away money! Apply for KCSS Mini-Grants

Are budget cuts hampering your creative ideas? If so, a KCSS classroom mini-grant just might be the answer to helping you put those ideas into practice.  This year KCSS will award two $250 grants – one each to a K-6 and a 7-12 social studies teacher.

Projects that are eligible for the grant include materials and resources needed to improve instruction or to carry out special projects.  We’re especially looking for mini-grant proposals that will act like a Kickstarter campaign – funding projects and instruction that can be used multiple times with multiple classes rather than a one-time project or event. And while we believe in the power of field trips, KCSS mini-grants are not designed for that type of teaching activity.

(Not a Kansas social studies teacher? Sorry. Jayhawkers only.)

Under Contract: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

downloadTechnology integration, individualized learning, differentiation, data based decision making, standards driven content . . . the list of expectations in any given lesson could go on and on, but how do teachers go about efficiently meeting all of these demands in their classrooms?

Blended Learning is a great solution that many teachers are turning to, and one model frequently used is Learning Contracts.  These contracts are agreements between the teacher and their students, which allows students some choice in their learning while requiring students to meet conditions set by the teacher.  Contracts outline an entire lesson or unit for students before they begin learning the content, providing them with what they will be learning, how they will learn it, due dates, and assessments.

Continue reading Under Contract: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom