K-6 Social Studies

January 2015

Uping the Rigor through your Questions

What do you do each day to push your students? Hopefully, you were thinking by asking them questions I push my students to learn more.

Every one of your lessons should be planned based on the question, "What do I want students to know at the end of the lesson?" We want students to come away with a goal of their learning and thinking for each lesson you prepare for students.

Each lesson only needs one goal and it could even take more than one day for the students to reach the goal. By the questions you ask, there should be no simple "yes" or "no" answers. We know that students become more engaged based on the activities, content, and questions we ask.

Do you plan your social studies lessons focusing on a goal or do you just teach the content? We need to develop thinkers and the more rigorous questions we expose students to, the more critical thinking students we create. Our students are pretty good at answering the "right there" questions, but what if we bumped up their thinking. How would the questions we ask students change our classroom in all content areas?

Examples of different essential questions:

How do readers use authors' clues to make inferences?

What were the advantages of both the North and South during the Civil War?

Essential questions reflect a concept or skill you teach. Higher Order Thinking questions are embedded into your lessons and provide opportunities to push students and challenge their thinking.

These types of questions must be pre-planned and not just asked "on the fly." Push yourself this week to write down your essential question or your higher order questions. You could put them on a notecard in your pocket, write them in your lesson plans, tape them to your computer/document camera, place it somewhere you will see it.

"A good teacher makes you think even when you don't want to." (Fisher, 1998, Teaching Thinking)



Examples of different questions for each content area:





Check out these picture books!

Test or Not to Test

All teachers know about the different types of assessments. We have multiple-choice, true/false, open-ended response, essays, and so many more. What type of assessment tools can we have students use to show mastery of content for social studies that make them think? Yes, sometimes a multiple-choice test is easiest for the teacher to create and use, but is it what is best for students?

Let's brainstorm a few different assessment ideas:

1. Have students use the different databases and create a smore newsletter.

2. Students can create a presentation using emaze.com, prezi.com, PowerPoint, Glogster, iMovie, etc. (Ask your Instructional Technologist for ideas)

3. Students could write a play based on a certain time period and present it to their students.

4. Students could write their own picture books or ABC books to explain a concept you discussed during your social studies class.

5. Have students work in groups to create a newspaper front pages with many different genres of writing.

6. Students could be given the freedom to show you what they learned with little direction from you by picking a form of a presentation that meets their interests and shows mastery of the content.

It is scary to have studnets pick their assessment tool, but you can always give them options. I suggest to always use a rubric to grade an assignment when it is a little more subjective in nature. There are different websites that will help you create a rubric in about the same amount of time it would call for to create a test.

You can do it! Be more brave when selecting your assessment tools. Give students freedom to show you what they know through their interests and creativity and not just a recall, multiple choice test.

K-6 Social Studies Materials Adoption Showcase

Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, 4-5:30pm

2400 N Carroll Ave

Southlake, TX

Carroll ISD will host K-6 social studies materials vendors on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 4-5:30 pm at the CISD Administration Center. The vendors will set up throughout the building sharing their different products and resources. The showcase is open to the public and all K-6 social studies teachers can come look at the different vendors’ materials. These products will be the potential products adopted in CISD beginning the 2015-2016 school year.