About 200 social studies teachers from around the state made their way to the Old Town Conference Center in downtown Wichita last Sunday and Monday for the annual state conference. If you were there, you know this already.
If you were not there . . . well, you missed a lot of social studies awesome. Seriously. Make plans for next year. Great conversations. Great learning. Great networking. Great food. Great people.
We know that Kansas does social studies a bit differently. Ever since 2013, when the latest state standards document was released, teachers in the state are being asked to focus on five major themes and historical thinking skills rather than just teaching a bunch of dates and places. It’s the balance between process and knowledge that we’re after.
But doing things differently also extends to our state level conference. It seems that in most other states, the different social studies organizations host their own conferences. Econ here. Geo there. History somewhere else. Here in Kansas?
The four major social studies groups – the Kansas Council for Economic Education, the Kansas Council for History Education, the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, and the Kansas Geographic Alliance – all work together to host one conference a year. With the support and encouragement of the Kansas Department of Education, this makes it easier for K-12 teachers to find us all in the same place and increases the cumulative social studies goodness.
Angela Howdehell works for the Kansas Council for Economic Education and is based at Wichita State University. She is today’s guest author.
I have been exhibiting at various annual teacher conferences in Kansas over the past fifteen years. Exhibits have included math, business, social studies, school administration, and much more. Countless times, a teacher has told me during a conversation, “I don’t teach economics. They teach that in the math department” or “They should be teaching that in Social Studies.”
Two minutes later, I’ll be speaking with a teacher instructing the same class at a different school and I hear something like “I love teaching economics in my world history class” or “I love bringing economics in my business class.” The longer I work with the Kansas Council for Economic Education, the more I understand why the idea of teaching economics might be confusing to some. Economics is everywhere, so it can and should be easily integrated into almost any K-12 subject. It is very practical and relates directly to the real world. Students get that! It’s a great thing that economic skills are also found in many of different content standards.
While sifting through old resources early on in my career, I found a reference page that would soon become one of my favorite documents. Our network refers to it as The Six Principles of Economic Thinking also know as The Handy Dandy Guide. This guide can be found in many of the resources provided through our national network of councils and centers for economic education.
Our state standards here in Kansas are a bit different than most other states. We focus on five big ideas rather than specific content. It’s a great idea based on research but it can be difficult at times for our teachers to align their instruction. And I know that many of you around the country are always on the lookout for quality Econ resources and lesson plans.
The Kansas and national Councils for Economic Education are just the thing!