Social Studies Elementary News

November 2019

In This Edition:

  • Recently Added Resources
  • Upcoming PD Opportunities
  • Digital Learning Opportunities
  • Women's Suffrage Centennial Resources
  • National Geographic GeoBee
  • Previous Elementary Newsletters

Recently Added Resources

Check out the Social Studies Department page for some new resources. Also, if you ever create any great resources and wouldn't mind sharing, please email them to Kristin so that we can share your greatness with others!


Recently Added Resources:


3rd-5th teachers, many of you have expressed a wish that the Gallopade pacing guides, located on p. 9-10 in the teacher books, include our standard numbers in them. The new documents below have been created to help with this!


Hannah Rexrode, from the East Tennessee History Center, has added to her ongoing Women's Suffrage files for you to check out!


Directions on how to access resources on grade level pages:

1. Visit the Knox County Schools website

2. Click Departments

3. Scroll down to Social Studies

4. On the left, find "For Elementary Teachers" and click your grade level (You must be signed in to access materials.)

Upcoming PD Opportunities

  • November 15- Workshop on the Cold War Era This workshop will be held from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the East Tennessee History Center. It focuses on 5th grade standard 5.23. We will explore strategies and resources for teaching the social studies practices, with a special emphasis on context and analysis. The workshop will feature standards-based activities and materials ready for immediate classroom use. Register today by emailing Lisa Oakley, oakley@easttnhistory.org or by calling (865) 215-8828.

  • November 18- Breaking Away from the Lecture: Inquiry-Based and Engaging Social Studies Lessons (Repeat Session) This repeat session will be led by Kristin Risdahl from 4:00-5:30 p.m. at Sarah Simpson. It is for teachers who teach 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade social studies. We will focus on the benefits of breaking away from the lecture-based classroom and providing engaging inquiry-based lessons for 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders. We will look at the inquiry process, the different pieces of the new Gallopade resources, and more...while discussing how to best utilize them to fit your students' needs! Sign up on My Learning Plan.
  • December 3- Examining Tennessee's Story at the East Tennessee History Center from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Join East Tennessee Historical Society Curator of Education Lisa Oakley for a day of learning about stories from Tennessee history which are featured in the new Tennessee social studies standards. We will explore these stories using a wide range of primary and secondary sources and share hands-on, literacy-rich strategies for using the sources in classroom instruction. Register today and learn more about our rich history! (lunch, travel stipend, and certificate of participation provided) *This is the same TN history overview session that was presented at the Social Studies summer training but if you missed it, this is a great opportunity! Register here.


*PDs offered during a regular school day require teachers to submit a professional leave request. Unfortunately, the Social Studies Department does not have money to pay for substitutes.

Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institution Programs

It' s hard to believe, but many organizations are already accepting applications for teacher institutes occurring this coming summer. If you have never attended an institute at an historic site, you will walk away with a tremendous amount of new knowledge! Click on the links below for more information. Some topics include:


  • Becoming Americans (1606–1781) (for educators in grades 3–6)
  • African Americans in Eigteenth-Century Virginia (for educators in grades 3–8)
  • Straight from the Sources: Women in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (for educators in grades 3–8)
  • Apprenticeships, STEM, and Colonial Daily Life (for educators in grades 3–8)


Quick Links:

Tennessee State Museum- Digital Learning Opportunities

Have you checked out the Digital Learning opportunities from the Tennessee State Museum? Your class can get involved by connecting online with a museum educator. These educators will lead a 20-30 minute program with your students, which will follow a question and answer format, and a quick wrap up discussion at the end. Choose from Interview with a Historic Figure, Mystery Artifacts, or Mystery Skype. Visit all the Digital Learning information here.


Interview with a Historic Figure: In this program, a well-known Tennessean will be chosen by the teacher from the list below. When you connect with us, one of our educators will dress in period garb and take on the persona of the chosen figure. Your students will then act as reporters and interview this figure about their life and times. After the program, they will take what they have learned and write an article for their local newspaper. Students will be responsible for asking detailed questions of their subject in order to create an accurate narrative of their life and their impact on Tennessee history.


Mystery Artifacts: (Grades 3-8) When signing up for this program, teachers will be able to choose a subject and subsequent list of artifacts, all of which represent each exhibit in our museum. The teacher will be given background information on the objects ahead of our program date, but they will remain a complete mystery to the students. Once we are connected on screen, one of our educators will provide a quick introduction of why we are meeting and what the rules are of the “game.” They will then have a limit of twenty questions to ask our educator, and about 30 minutes, to figure out what the artifacts are and what they were used for during that particular time period. Once the students have made their final guesses, an educator will finish the session by revealing the correct answers, and then go on to detail the history of each object, explain how it was used and describe why it is important.


Mystery Skype: This program explores the subject of United States geography and history! Once connected with one of our museum educators, the goal of this session is to let the students ask us geography based questions in order to correctly guess our location within the United States. Your students will need to prepare a list of spatial and directional questions before we connect, and it is vital that you do not give your kids any hints to our location before our session. Once they have correctly guessed where we are, your students will be given a brief history of Tennessee and, if time allows, we will open the floor for any other questions they might have!

Women's Suffrage Centennial- TDOE Featured Content

This month the Tennessee Department of Education is highlighting the formation of women’s associations and their leaders. In 1869, two national organizations (The American Woman Suffrage Association and The National Woman Suffrage Association) were formed to further the cause of women’s suffrage. Although these associations were formed for different reasons, the leaders strived for the same thing: voting rights for women. The following resources are examples that teachers can use to begin exploring the Women’s Suffrage Movement.


National Geographic GeoBee

The National Geographic GeoBee is an annual competition for grades 4-8 designed to inspire and reward students' curiosity about the world. Registration for the 2019-2020 school year is now open!


Registered schools receive a suite of curated study resources to prepare students and 400+ GeoBee questions covering geography, civilizations, cultures, physical features, and more to hold a school GeoBee. Prizes to celebrate participants will also be included. For more information and to register, visit NatGeoBee.

Teacher & Student Spotlight

We want to celebrate the great learning that is taking place in your classrooms everyday! Throughout the school year, as you are teaching and your students are learning and exploring social studies, please share the great things that are happening in your schools. Send us photos of your students actively learning, invite us to special activities and celebrations, etc. We see the amazing things happening every day as we are visiting schools and classrooms, so let's share out the greatness!

Previous Elementary Newsletters

Looking for something from an old newsletter? Check out the links below!


Social Studies Department

As a three-person social studies district team, we serve every elementary, middle, and high school. For the 2019-2020 school year, Katherine and Dean will be working primarily with secondary schools, and Kristin will be working primarily with elementary schools. However, please know you may call on any member of the social studies department for any social studies-related need or question you may have. Please let us know if we can be of assistance with anything!


Katherine Petko, Social Studies Supervisor katherine.petko@knoxschools.org

Dean Burress, K-12 Social Studies Facilitator dean.burress@knoxschools.org

Kristin Risdahl, K-12 Social Studies Facilitator kristin.risdahl@knoxschools.org

Vickie Beckers, Administrative Assistant vickie.beckers@knoxschools.org