State of the Social Studies

TomClairAbeThis week’s post comes from Thomas Fulbright, current KCSS president and history teacher at Hope Street Academy, a public charter school in Topeka since 2008. Thomas intends “to spend my entire life convincing them how exciting and important history is.”  His bio picture is daughter Claire and Thomas  meeting President Lincoln.


This past July, I attended a Library of Congress Primary Source SummitTF NameTag hosted by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies.  We covered a number of topics beyond just social studies pedagogy with a focus on the use of primary sources. By the end of the summit I was feeling good about the State of the Social Studies in Kansas, and in addition, reinvigorated in my personal purpose for teaching social studies.  Let me tell you why & hopefully you will feel the same way (sorry you couldn’t come with me to Minnesota).

First – the State of the Social Studies. Continue reading State of the Social Studies

Authentic Learning: Making History Matter – Join us for the state conference!

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Details for the 2019 Kansas Social Studies Conference, Authentic Learning: Making History Matter, have been finalized. Information concerning registration, the keynote speaker, college credit, and more can be found on the KCHE website . In addition, the schedule is available right HERE!

This year Newman University will be offering 1 hour of graduate credit for conference participants who attend both days of the conference. Those wishing to take advantage of this opportunity must enroll before (or at) the conference using the form linked here. Then, following the conference, they will be required to complete and submit the post-conference reflection essay which will be emailed by Cameron Carlson, Dean of The School of Education. We appreciate Newman working with us to make this possible for teachers.

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This year we are honored to be joined by keynote speaker Dr. John Fea, Professor of American History at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Fea will be speaking on his bookWhy Study History?, published in 2013, in which he examines how reflecting on contemporary life from a historical perspective helps us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Visit his website, The Way of Improvement Leads Hometo learn more.

The registration deadline is October 1st. We are looking forward to two exciting days of learning, networking, and collaborating among some of our state’s best social studies teachers.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to email Emily Williams, KCHE President, at ewilliams@usd260.com. Thank you!

Starting Social Studies

IMG_9723Lori 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.


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The beginning of the school year brings excitement and anxiety for teachers and students alike.  It is a year of new possibility, new classmates and new opportunities.

Every school year I start with lists.  I have a list of school supplies I need to buy and hunt down at sales. I have a list of things to do to prepare and organize my classroom for a new set of students and families. Then there is the coveted class list. We get our elementary list in August.

When I receive my class list every year, I look at it with curiosity and a little worry. Who are these children coming into my room?  What experiences do they bring to our room? What experiences are they lacking? How have they been taught in previous years? Where do they go home each night? Will I be able to provide all they need?
Building a classroom community is the most important part of the first weeks of school.

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It takes time for students to build relationships and trust within the classroom walls we will spend our next nine months. Being a social studies teacher, it is so simple to intertwine my curriculum from the first day into the discussions, activities, and lessons we do from the start. The HGSS standards and social/emotional skills can be taught at every grade level and woven into literature, art, music, and especially classroom management.

There are many great picture books and chapter books to start the year with. I use Absolutely Almost or Wonder as a great read aloud to start discussions about differences and strengths. I have been teaching fourth grade for twelve years and this is my twenty-fourth year in education. We all have our favorite lessons. These are two that I love starting the year with: Continue reading Starting Social Studies

Six Super Sweet Social Studies Strategies for Back to School

(Reposted from History Tech)

first-week-of-school-nailed-it-13993094-e1534537523675Many of you are ready to jump off the end of the pier – sometime in the next few weeks, kids are heading back to your classrooms.

To help energize your first awesome week with kids, here are six great ways to kick off the school year. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t.

What not to do

But before we get too far along with what we know works, it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t. I’ve mentioned Fourteen Things You Should Never Do on the First Day of School before but it’s still a great reminder of what it looks like when we’re doing it wrong. Mark Barnes suggest that your goal should be a very simple one during the first few days of school:

You have many days to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses. You have months to discuss high stakes testing and standards. You’ll spend weeks probing the textbook.

The first day of school should be dedicated to rapport-building and to joy.

Your goal should be that students go home that night and tell their parents: “I’m going to love history class because my teacher is awesome!”

So what should we be doing the first week?

Kids need to be in groups. They need to be solving problems. They need to get a taste of some social studies and play with some social studies tools. They need to know that it’s okay to fail. Find out more about them. They should practice a few critical thinking skills. Maybe a little tech here and there. Have fun.

Need some specifics? Start with these six: Continue reading Six Super Sweet Social Studies Strategies for Back to School