KCSS Sunflower

Winter Newsletter December 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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2017 Kansas Social Studies Conference was awesome!

On November 5 & 6, 200 social studies teachers from around the state made their way to the Old Town Conference Center in downtown Wichita for the annual state conference.

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.

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 – worked together to host the conference. With the support and encouragement of the Kansas Department of Education, the conference is a perfect place for K-12 teachers to find all of the different disciplines in the same place and increases the cumulative social studies goodness.

It also makes for a great Sunday night reception when we honor all of our different teachers of the year. This year’s winners?

  • Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year
    Kathy Harrell
  • Kansas Council for Economic Education Teacher of the Year
    Matthew Wolfe
  • Kansas Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year
    Emily Snyder
  • Kansas Council for History Education Teacher of the Year
    Kathy Schaller – Elementary
    Blanche Wulfekoetter – Secondary
  • Kansas Geographic Alliance Teacher of the Year
    Lynn Boitano
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KCSS president Kori Green, Emily Synder, KGA coordinator John Harrington, Lynn Boitano, KSDE consultant Don Gifford, Kathy Harrell, Gilder Lehrman coordinator Glenn Wiebe, Blanche Wulfekoetter, KCHE president Emily Williams, Matthew Wolfe, KCEE director Angela Howdieshell
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During the conference, there was another Kansas first. From this list of individual organizational winners, the Kansas Stated Department of Education selected an overall state Teacher of the year. Congratulations to Blanche Wulfekoetter as the first ever recipient of the Kansas Social Studies Teacher of the Year award.

Three Powerful Apps for Teaching About Congress, Civic Participation, and Primary Sources

These three projects were developed through the Teaching with Primary Sources program at the Library of Congress. Each project is intended to provide young people with engaging and meaningful opportunities to learn about Congress and civic participation using primary sources from the Library’s online collections.

And they're all incredible.

  • Eagle Eye Citizen
    Eagle Eye Citizen engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges on American history, civics, and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop students' civic understanding and historical thinking skills.
  • Engaging Congress
    Engaging Congress is a series of game-based learning activities that explores the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges that it faces in contemporary society. Primary source documents are used to examine the history and evolution of issues that confront Congress today.
  • KidCitizen
    KidCitizen introduces a new way for young students (K-5) to engage with history through primary sources. In KidCitizen’s nine interactive episodes, children explore civics and government concepts by investigating primary source photographs from the Library of Congress. They also connect what they find with their daily lives. KidCitizen includes cloud software tools that let educators create their own episodes and share them with students.

Professional Learning Opportunities

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

  • State Assessments, Civic Engagement, and Social Studies Best Practice
    February 5 - Hutchinson, KS
    Join KCSS board members Kori Green, Adam Topliff, Jill Weber, and Glenn Wiebe as they share social studies best practices that support the 2018 state assessment and literacy integration as well as ideas and strategies that support KSDE and Kansans Can mandated Civic Engagement practices. (Secondary 6-12)
  • Access to Inquiry for English Learners through Primary Sources
    April 16 - Hutchinson, KS
    The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Program is making the best of inquiry-based instruction in social studies and humanities accessible to all learners – including English Learners. This course will feature exemplars of best practice using primary sources and analysis tools and is specifically designed to assist both 5-12 social studies teachers and those working with ELL students to improve the historical thinking skills and content acquisition of English Language Learners. (Title III funds may be used for this training.)

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.

  • Stanford History Education Group
    You probably already know about the sweet standards aligned lessons and assessments focused on the historical thinking process. But did you know about the newly added Civic Literacy lessons? Cause they're awesome.
  • iCivics
    The success of any democratic system depends on the active participation of its citizens. iCivics gives students the necessary tools to learn about and participate in civic life, and teachers the materials and support to achieve this goal. Our free resources include print-and-go lesson plans, interactive digital tools, and award-winning games.
  • Six Proven Practices for Civic Engagement
    The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools recommends six “proven practices” that, together, constitute well-rounded civic learning. They urge all schools to adopt these practices, which have been shown by research to provide the most effective and comprehensive approach to ensuring all students receive the civic knowledge and skills necessary for informed and engaged citizenship.
  • StoryCorps
    Perfect for oral history projects. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. They do this to remind each of us of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.
  • 8 Things You Didn’t Know Google Classroom Can Do
    Digital Learning has revolutionized the way teachers do business in education. Teachers now have the ability to communicate, plan, and teach more efficiently than ever before. One advancement that has allowed this type of change is Google Classroom. If you’ve never used Classroom, here are eight things you probably didn’t know about this powerhouse tool.

What We're Reading

It's almost the Holiday break. Be sure to take a few days for yourself, then plan on spending some time catching up with your reading. Need some ideas? (These would also be perfect for gifts!)

Need some state assessment info?

The 2017-18 is a KSDE social studies assessment year. Don Gifford, KSDE social studies consultant, says that this year's assessment will be the same as 2016. Your students will be asked to interact with:

  • 10 or 11 vignettes (depending on grade level) with a single multiple choice or multiple select question for each vignette
  • 1 document excerpt with 3 multiple choice or multiple select questions focusing on content, context, and process
  • 1 performance task 2 document excerpts with three guiding questions and an on-demand writing prompt

KSDE has also released the topics for each grade level writing prompt:

  • For 6th grade, the performance task is over the unit Ancient Greece
  • For 8th grade, the performance task is over the unit Establishing America
  • For 11th grade, the performance task is over the unit Civil Rights and Social Change

According to Don, "It would be helpful for your students to have some background in this unit prior to the assessment. If you are teaching chronologically, you may need to rearrange your sequence to get the specific topic in before the testing window."

For more information, head over to the KSDE Social Studies page or contact Don directly.

Save the date!

2018 KSDE Civic Engagement Conference

The 1st annual KSDE Civic Engagement conference is scheduled for February 19, 2018 at the Ramada Hotel in Topeka, Kansas. The Kansans Can school redesign initiative requires schools to develop civically engaged graduates. But what can that look like? This conference can help – make plans now to attend!

The conference is focused on the teaching and learning of historical thinking skills and assessments with a special highlight on economics and the state board’s Kansans Can vision. You’ll walk away smarter after learning more about:

  • Civic Advocacy network
  • Civic engagement strategies
  • Six Proven Practices of Effective Civic Learning
  • Community service examples
  • Current best practices

The conference keynote speaker is Mary Beth Tinker. Saddened by news from Vietnam, Mary Beth and other students wore black armbands to school to mourn the dead and call for a Christmas truce. Mary Beth and the others were suspended. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the suspensions in court, leading to the landmark 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court ruling. The ruling has been cited in more than 6,000 legal cases involving students’ rights.

KSDE is looking for session proposals. Have an idea for a conference session? They want to hear from you! Send them your proposal.

They are also encouraging students to develop and share poster sessions. Secondary students are invited to create a presentation that present identified problems in their schools, communities, nation, or the world, and propose solutions to those problems. Students and teacher sponsors apply here.

(Conference registration is not yet open. Check the KSDE site for updates.)

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.