Tag Archives: historical thinking

Saving Kiribati and the Kansas Social Studies conference. Two great things that go great together

Still on the fence about the 2018 Kansas Social Studies Conference? Not sure about meeting and listening to Joel Breakstone from the Stanford History Education Group share ways to engage kids in online civic literacy? Thinking about whether or not asking Don Gifford from KSDE questions about the new and improved state standards and assessments? Perhaps the free food and drinks at Sunday’s evening reception just hasn’t been enough to jumpstart your registration process.

Maybe all you need is the chance to listen to a couple of the many awesome presenters who’ll be sharing their best stuff at the conference.

Casey Krouse and Dylan Owings from Pleasant Ridge Middle School in Overland Park are asking their students to think about and solve authentic problems – like the problem facing the Pacific island country of Kiribati. Rising ocean levels are erasing areas of land and could soon engulf the entire nation. Their students are attacking the problem by using Design Thinking.

During their conference presentation on Monday, October 29, 2018 at 10:30am, Casey and Dylan will share their lessons and instructional designs. So. Are you looking for a new way to address climate change in the classroom?  Curious about the Design process? In their hands-on lessons, students work through Stanford’s Design Thinking Process to develop empathy for Pacific Islanders affected by sea level rise and engage in real world problem solving. Come learn more about how you can adapt their lessons to your classroom.

Learn more about rising sea levels on Kiribati by viewing this CBS News overview. Then head over to the Kansas Social Studies conference site and get that registration started!

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SHEG HATs for the win

Hat fail.

I’m not talking about an actual hat. Not a baseball cap. Or a visor. Or a bowler, beanie, beret, or bucket hat.

I’m talking about SHEG HATS.

As in Stanford History Education Group and History Assessments of Thinking.

I’m sure that you’ve been over to the very useful  Stanford History Education Group’s site with its three different tools, right? (If you haven’t, mmm . . . go there now and be amazed at how your life will be changed.)

All of us at the KCSS have been pushing Sam Wineburg’s work for years so I’m hoping you’re already familiar with the work his SHEG group has been doing around the idea of reading like a historian. They’ve packaged their work into three chunks – instructional lessons that focus on training kids analyze evidence to solve problems, onlive civic literacy lessons, and wait for it . . . Continue reading SHEG HATs for the win

Structured Academic Controversy – Lewis and Clark Edition!  

Today’s post is written by Cheney, Kansas middle and high social studies teacher Jill Weber. Jill is the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year.


Sometimes it all goes right. Thursday morning I didn’t think the day was going to turn out. It was just one of those rough mornings. Bad news and frustrations everywhere I looked. Before class started, I thought

Man, I’m gonna really have to fake-it-to-make-it today.

But then class started, and we got rolling with our topic and activity. By the end of my first block I knew I wasn’t gonna have to “fake it.” Today was AWESOME!

And it was made possible by the Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) activity I found using Stanford History Education Group. If you aren’t using SHEG in your classes . . . get on it! Seriously one of the best resources out there for incorporating and teaching with primary sources.

The SAC provides a controversial questions, documents for research, and the procedure for students to participate in small group debates. Students learn how to argue with evidence! And middle school students LOVE to argue!

The entire activity took two full class periods (we are on a block schedule, so two 75 min. classes) Here’s how it went down . . . Continue reading Structured Academic Controversy – Lewis and Clark Edition!  

Detecting Bias: Quick and Easy Lesson Applications for Practicing this Essential Skill (Part 1)

In the ongoing battle between serious, fact-based interpretation of current events and the onslaught of “fake news” stories being spread throughout social media (and beyond),debate headlines 21st century social studies teachers face a daunting task.  How can we possibly help students develop the necessary skills in order navigate the confusing blizzard of information they encounter on a daily basis?  Even still, who has enough hours in the day to both cover all the required content and engage in current events activities that encompass more than reading an article and answering a few questions?

As a veteran teacher believe me, I feel your pain.  My colleague Joe Zlatnik and I have spent time the past few years talking with teachers throughout the country about how they address bias in their classrooms.  The consensus we have heard is that most teachers don’t address it since they don’t have time to teach “current events.”  With this in mind we developed a set of simple activities that can help kids practice the skill of detecting bias within the framework of US and World history courses.  I will explain one of these activities in this first part of a three part series.

Continue reading Detecting Bias: Quick and Easy Lesson Applications for Practicing this Essential Skill (Part 1)

Use Crop It tools to help elementary kids think historically

One of the easiest but most effective strategies for having younger kids work with primary sources is called Crop It. In some ways, it’s a lot like my Evidence Analysis Window Frame but I really like the flexibility embedded in the Crop It idea. The idea is pretty simple: students use L-shaped paper “cropping” tools to explore a visual primary source.

One of the problems that we often face is finding ways to help students see details – and to make sense of those details – when viewing a primary source. Photos, paintings, and graphics can contain a ton of specifics that get missed if students don’t take the time to look for them.

Crop It slows the process down so that students scan a source at a deep level and think about what they’re looking at. It gives them a way to find evidence, see multiple viewpoints, and gain a more detailed understanding of a primary source.

This strategy works especially well with elementary and middle school students to help them develop and support historical thinking. And the cool thing is that you can use it with all sorts of visual sources. Continue reading Use Crop It tools to help elementary kids think historically