Lori 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.
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.
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→
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!
I got to know Jill Weber about five years ago when we started our second Teaching American History grant at ESSDACK. And she’s been great about opening up her classroom in a variety of ways including posting ideas and strategies on her blog A View of the Web.
Jill recently shared a post with our study group that she is allowing us to cross-post. Enjoy!
My 7th graders will be taking their first test for me this week. I thought this would be a good time to talk about what a Social Studies test in Mrs. Weber’s class looks like.
Social Studies has changed. Teachers should be implementing activities, lessons, and strategies to help students read and analyze primary sources, think critically, and “do” history. We should be teaching kids how to become historians. How to question sources, look at conflicting view points, and draw conclusions based on the evidence that is given to us.
But what does that LOOK LIKE?
And what does it look like on a TEST?
I have spent the last three years developing a method for creating unit tests/assessments that involve more analysis and application as opposed to simple regurgitation of facts.
Deb Brown, a good friend from the Shawnee Mission, Kansas district, shared a statement with me several years ago and it’s rattled around in my head ever since.
“Primary sources belong to everyone. Not just the smart kids.”
I like that.
Something else she said caught my attention.
“Kids should read like a detective and write like an investigative reporter.”
With the new Kansas state standards in full force and the NCSS C3 document just out, this sort of thinking needs to part of every teacher’s world view.
Around the same time, Deb shared some of the things that teachers in her district were using to help kids make sense of all sorts of historical evidence. They fit perfectly into the first C of the 4C’s framework I’m developing for social studies teachers:
And using graphic organizers help meet Common Core literacy standards. So I’ve borrowed what she shared and put them together with a few other things to come up with a list of eight highly effective strategies. Together, they provide students with a variety of powerful data collection tools that they can use as they work to solve problems. Continue reading 8 sweet graphic organizers for primary sources→