KCSS Sunflower

Winter 2018

As social studies educators, you are responsible for teaching students the content knowledge, discipline specific thinking skills, and civic values that are vital for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy. Our task at the Kansas Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support to make your job easier.

Use the resources and information below as you continue to hone your instructional skills.

Thanks for making the Fall Conference a success!

Because of you and other awesome teachers, we experienced record attendance during the 2018 Kansas State Social Studies conference. Joel Breakstone from the Stanford History Education Group kicked off our time together by sharing the civic literacy work SHEG is doing. Multiple breakout sessions followed highlighting best practice, teaching resources, and assessment ideas.

Make plans now to attend next year's event held at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas on October 20-21.

2018 Teachers of the Year

The winners of the 2018 Teachers of the Year awards were announced

during the annual conference reception held on Sunday, October 28. Following hors d'oeuvres and drinks, SHEG Executive Director Joel Breakstone opened the ceremony by sharing highlights from SHEG's research concerning the importance of civic online literacy.

After each state council presented the teachers selected as their winners, KSDE social studies consultant Don Gifford announced the Kansas state social studies teacher of the year. This year's state-wide winner is Lori Rice, elementary teacher from West Elementary School in Wamego.

Congratulations to all of those selected to represent Social Studies teaching in Kansas!

Big picture
From left to right: Gilder Lehrman History of the Year Thomas Fulbright, Kansas Council for the Social Studies Secondary Teacher of the Year David Cordell, KCSS President Kori Green, KSDE Social Studies Consultant Don Gifford, KCSS Elementary Teacher of the Year and Kansas State Social Studies Teacher of the Year Lori Rice, Kansas Geographic Alliance Teacher of the Year Coordinator Mary Beck, KGA Teacher of the Year Kim Gilman, Kansas Council for History Education Secondary Teacher of the Year Emily Williams, KCHE Treasurer Nathan McAlister, KCHE Elementary Teacher of the Year Missy Page.

Meet the new KCSS board

During our annual fall meeting, KCSS membership elected new officers:

Thomas Fulbright

Hope Street Academy - Topeka

Jill Weber

Vice President
Cheney Middle School

Lori Rice

West Elementary Wamego

Darla Mallein

Emporia State University

and added new board members:

Nick Green

Wichita West High School

TJ Warsnak

Halstead High School

Todd Roberts

Emporia State University

Emily Synder

Maize High School

And we're excited that Julie Bergene, Public Education Coordinator from the Dole Institute of Politics, has joined the KCSS Board as an Ad Hoc member.

Congratulations to all new officers and board members!

Nominate the 2019 Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year

The Gilder Lehrman Institute History Teacher of the Year program highlights the importance of history instruction by honoring exemplary history teachers throughout the country.

Any full-time educator of grades K–12 who teaches American history (including state and local history) is eligible for consideration. American history may be taught as an individual subject or as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading, or language arts. Click here to learn more about the process and to nominate next year's teacher of the year.

Questions about the process? Contact Glenn.

Professional Learning Opportunities

There are a variety of workshops and trainings coming up that can help make you and your kids smarter:

  • 75 Professional Learning Opportunities That Will Make You Smarter
    Now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you want to spend your summer. Check out this Google spreadsheet with over 75 different summer programs listed that are all designed to make you smarter and a better teacher.
  • Smithsonian Learning Lab
    Free archived and live webinars highlighting the Lab's resources and strategies for using the Lab.
  • Professional Development Webinars - National Archives
    Visit the National Archives without leaving your school or home! Their interactive webinars for educators feature historical documents, images, maps, posters, and other primary sources — as well as resources and strategies for bringing primary sources into your classroom. All webinars are free of charge.
  • National Geographic Professional Development
    Their online course offerings allow you to connect to inspiring educators and to learn specific and practical strategies to improve your teaching practice. Courses are offered in a variety of lengths and throughout the year to fit your schedule. Check back often to see new courses as they are added.

Sweet Teaching Tools & Helpful Articles

Social studies teachers are always on the lookout for new instructional tools and resources. Check these out. You won't be disappointed.

  • Teaching Channel

    Teaching Channel’s mission is to create an environment where teachers can watch, share, and learn new techniques to help every student grow.You'll get videos, strategies, and resources.

  • SHEG Civic Online Literacy Resources

    If young people are not prepared to critically evaluate the information that bombards them online, they are apt to be duped by false claims and misleading arguments. To help teachers tackle teaching these critical skills, SHEG has developed assessments of civic online reasoning—the ability to judge the credibility of the information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets, and computer screens.
  • Tony Blair Institute for Global Change: Civil Dialogue Strategy
    Check out the website but make sure that you download and use their 90+ page resource for encouraging and supporting civil discourse in your classroom. Incredibly useful with tips, tools, and processes proven to help your kids learn how to work with diverse opinions and viewpoints.
  • Why Your Mental Map of the World is (Probably) Wrong
    These are some of the most common geographic misconceptions that are both surprising and surprisingly hard to correct. One of the cool things the article highlights is the emotional connection that maps make in our brains. And that’s a good thing. The sad thing? Much of what we call geography instruction fails to make these emotional connections. The result is that our kids don’t remember basic geographic info or are able to make important connections between place, people, and events.
  • Bouncy Maps
    Use Bouncy Maps to connect locations with data. Maps become bigger or smaller to show differences in the data. Want kids to get a visual sense of where refugees are coming from? How about population? Or religion? Health? Economics? Yup. So you'll want to make sure to play with all the buttons to create a wide variety of maps.

What We're Reading

Holiday break is just days away - perfect for taking a few days for yourself and spending some time catching up with your reading. Need some ideas?

  • Notable Books, Notable Lesson: Putting Social Studies Back in the K-8 Curriculum, authored by Andrea Libresco, Jeannette Balantic, and Mary Battenfield, focuses on finding ways for elementary and middle level teachers to combine ELA and social studies instruction. The book is anchored around two main resources: the ten thematic strands developed by the National Council for the Social Studies and the NCSS yearly Notable Books list.
  • Every Book is a Social Studies Book: How to Meet Standards with Picture Books, K-6 is from the same authors as Notable Books. They've put together an amazing collection of discipline-specific strategies along with extensive collections of trade and picture books all aligned to 10 national NCSS social studies themes. (Secondary teachers? Don't be afraid to use these two books. Adapt and get great ideas from both.)
  • Why Learn History? (When It’s Already On Your Phone) is the latest from Sam Wineburg, founder of the Stanford History Education Group. Divided into four chunks, Why Learn History is a collection of Wineburg essays that’s part history of the Stanford History Education Group, part Teaching American History rant, and part reminder of why we do what we do. The book highlights the vital role social studies teachers play in the democracy that is the United States and, perhaps more importantly, what can happen if we fail to fill that role.
  • Google Tools Meets Middle School is more than just Google stuff. It's a great step by step on how to and why to use technology in the middle school classroom. (And super easy to adapt up or down by grade level.) If you're using G Suite tools with students, this is a super useful resource.

Doing Social Studies Blog

Doing Social Studies is a place for a variety of voices to discuss what high-quality social studies looks like in the 21st century. KCSS board members and other educators from around the state share ideas, resources, and materials about how we can all do social studies better. We'd love for you to join the conversation by stopping by and leaving your own ideas and suggestions.


Do you know someone who's not yet a member of KCSS? Send them to our membership page. Membership is free and a great way to support the discipline.

If you're already a member, be sure to follow our Twitter feed and Facebook group for the latest updates.