KCSS Sunflower

Winter Newsletter January 2017

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. Feel free to pass the newsletter on to others!

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We are excited to announce the 2016-2017 winners of the KCSS Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Awards. Judy Cromwell taught social studies in the Topeka area for over 38 years. She was a long-time member of KCSS and served on the board for 28 years. Judy was known for her strong support for classroom teachers, her delicious buffalo chip cookies, and for leading summer trips around the state with teachers. The Excellence in Teaching Award is named in her honor.

Terry Healy is the 2016 elementary winner, Kyle Johnson is the middle school winner, and Jason Dolezal is the high school winner. Terry, Kyle, and Jason each received a framed certificate, a $500 cash award, and KCSS endorsement towards the National Council for the Social Studies Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.

Terry teaches in the Manhattan Ogden School District as a gifted and enrichment educator. Kyle works at Seaman Middle School in Topeka as the gifted facilitator teaching both 7th and 8th grade social studies and language arts, as well as Creative and Dramatic Arts. Jason is at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City teaching world and American history, government, economics, psychology, and family advocacy.

Congratulations to all three!

Pics from the 2016 conference

Fake News: It's Why We Exist

Our task as social studies teachers is not an easy one. But it might be boiled down to this: "develop lessons and units that create students who can think critically, using a variety of corroborating and supporting evidence in order to solve authentic problems so that the world is a better place. Training our kids to think historically not only helps them make sense of the past but also prepares them to better evaluate the present.

The avalanche of fake news is a perfect example of how what we do can make a difference. Need some specifics? Check out these handy tools for helping students make sense of what they read and view:

Find some helpful definitions and suggestions for evaluating information at How to Outsmart Fake News in Your Facebook Feed.

The News Literacy Project is an awesome place for teaching tools. Their stated mission – “an innovative national educational program that mobilizes seasoned journalists to work with educators to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age” is perfect for what we’re trying to do here. Use their tools and the following worksheets as part of your lesson design:

Richard Byrne of Free Technology For Teachers shared a Real or Fake Google Search Challenge developed by Dan Russell that can help students use search tools more effectively.

KQED has a nice article with a lesson plan and resources at The Honest Truth about Fake News . . . and How Not to Fall for It.

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Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy toolkit for a “post-truth” world is a great post from Joyce Valenza on the School Library Journal’s website. You find video clips, handouts, and suggested activities.

Melissa Zimdars, an associate professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, published a Google Doc with some tips and a six step process for evaluating online news sources.

Another multiple page Google Doc, from Howard Rheingold, titled Crap Detection Resources has over 100 online tools that can help detect bias in a variety of mediums.

Free and Awesome Teaching Tools

Social studies teachers are always on the lookout for new instructional tools. You'll want to give these a try. Trust us.

  • Kahoot Jumble is the latest version of the handy student clicker tool. This new addition lets you ask question that require students to re-arrange a series of people, events, ideas, etc. Perfect for cause and effect, chronology, and making connections.
  • Teaching with Documents from the National Archives lists great lessons that integrate primary sources arranged by time period. Be sure your kids use the very helpful primary source analysis worksheets along the right side of that page.
  • Google Expeditions provides a 3D virtual reality experience for your kids through the use of inexpensive Google Cardboard viewing devices. KCSS president Kori Green and past president Glenn Wiebe shared tips, tools, and tactics to using VR tools in the classroom at the 2016 national conference. Get their resources here.
  • Training Future Historians is a post by the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas Teacher of the Year Jill Weber. You'll love her idea of starting off the school year with a historical thinking bootcamp. She wants her middle schoolers to understand what they’re getting into and spends six days training her kids in the basics of thinking and reading like historians. She starts with this but you could incorporate these ideas anytime.

National Council for the Social Studies Webinars

The NCSS always has great professional learning opportunities. These are a few of their upcoming options:

Putting Social Studies in its Place:Using GIS in the Classroom

February 7, 2017

Learn how to use GIS to compliment your existing instruction; map and analyze simple data sets; and to create community based PBL activities. Lesson Plans, free software, and replication tips will be provided.

Religion, Social Studies and You

February 9, 2017

What if everything you knew about Hinduism was wrong? What lessons have been learned from controversies around the country in World Religions Classes, like field trips, guest speakers, or trying on burkas? This two-part webinar series answers these questions and expands upon the 2015 and 2016 Religion, Social Studies and You webinar series focusing on ways to incorporate inclusive pedagogical approaches for addressing different faith traditions and cultures in the classroom consistent with the First Amendment.

Developing Inquiry with DPLA Primary Source Sets

February 21, 2017

Get an introduction to the Digital Public Library of America's (DPLA) free, curated, vetted classroom-ready resources and learn techniques and strategies for creative classroom implementation that supports differentiation for diverse learners, cross-curricular learning, and C3-driven inquiry-based analysis.

Teaching the Racial/Cultural Identity Model using the film Malcolm X

February 28, 2017

The purpose of using the R/CID model to analyze and evaluate a film, such as Malcolm X is twofold. It allows the teacher to begin to tear down a colorblind classroom and begin to integrate Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT).

Great Summer Professional Learning Opportunities

Finding ways to hone our craft should always be a priority. Use the list below to find free professional learning opportunities in the Social Studies. Most of these have upcoming deadlines, so hop out of that chair and apply already.

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.