Day 15 – “Can I be the British captain?”

Finishing up notes on the French and Indian War
Ready, here’s a vocab quiz (combined Language Arts & Social Studies for short blocks)
If you get through this, you can do Kahoots for the rest of class
Do you guys want to watch some videos? (Getting active, videos on working together)
Assembly for the entire Middle School – Awards, recognitions, performances, videos
You need to finish your personal poems before the end of Advisory!

Today’s takeaway: Find ways to engage students during instruction.

My cooperating teacher was finishing up notes with students on the French and Indian War.  In order to explain the battle formation strategies of the British, the teacher decided to include the students.  Instead of just verbally explaining how the British marched in lines and ducked down to reload ammunition (all the while exposing themselves to the enemy), the teacher asked a few students to get up and actually demonstrate it.  The students really enjoyed this (both those participating and those watching) as it gave them a visual that allowed them to relate to the content.  I think they got a lot more out of seeing how the British soldiers formed themselves as opposed to just listening to the teacher explain it.  It was great to see the students having a good time, and I think that this content will be something that they will remember.

Image result for british soldier formation duck and reload   Image result for student engagement


Day 15 – “Can I be the British captain?”

Content Area Reading #8 – You Go Girl

“Teaching Leadership to Girls: Action Examples from Eight Schools” by Sue Baldwin, Heidi Kasevich, Stacey Kertsman, Kathryn Jasper, Regina Rosi, Kristin Ryan, David Sahr, Koyen Parikh Shah, and Sarah Wolf.

Social Education 80(1), pp 58–61, 64. 2016 National Council for the Social Studies

I chose to read this article because I found it while browsing through the NCSS database, and was interested when I saw the title.

This article looks at examples of eight different schools that have incorporated leadership training for female students into its curriculum through speakers, programming, and community service opportunities.  The examples from the schools fall within the following leadership themes: developing skills in planning and problem solving, the skill of self-assessment and assessing one’s relationship to others, guiding and mentoring roles, and evaluating and dealing with community problems. The authors argue the importance of teaching leadership skills to young women – doing so will help us continue to overcome gender inequity in society.


3 things I want to remember:

  • 1. Components of leadership training: communication (sharing ideas, making suggestions, setting examples, showing others how to get things done), skills in planning and problem solving, self-assessment skills, experience in guiding and mentor roles, understanding community problems, taking calculated risks, managing conflicts without fear, conducting successful negotiations
  • 2. Cultural and legal barriers that should be addressed in a class, especially for girls – stereotype-threats, the objectification of women in the media, inadequate maternity and childcare legislation
  • 3. Mentoring – the idea of matching a mentor with a mentee and having daily online journaling to share their experiences and thoughts with one another (could help overcome barriers with distance/lack of physical availability – students can still have strong support network even online).

2 controversial things:

  • 1. Leadership being integrated into a school’s curriculum. I agree that it should be, at least in some form, but more traditional educators would likely disagree – incorporating leadership into curriculum would take away valuable time from teaching the different subjects. The question is, though, do we value content over skills?
  • 2. Is leadership born or made? Some might argue that all students have the potential to be great leaders, while others believe that it takes certain innate skills and personality traits in order to be a good leader.

1 question:

  • 1. How can you institute programming/speakers/conferences if your school does not have a budget for such activities?
Content Area Reading #8 – You Go Girl

Day 14 – “Which one do you have?” “…I have to kill a bunch of people.”

Today I taught a lesson about the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.

Image result for Boston Massacre memes    Image result for Boston tea party memes

In this lesson, I had students first learn the basics of each event by reading an online article (I read one aloud by myself, then we took turns for the second one) and then completing a little quiz on the website (Schoology).  Then I read aloud directions for students for their “Revolutionary Reporter” assignment (on Schoology) – they were each to be assigned one event (Massacre or Tea Party) and write a news article as if they were there in 1770s Boston. I asked them to focus on taking on the perspective of a newsreporter (using their 5 senses), summarizing (who, what when, where, why, how), and predicting how this event would influence the colonies (how would people react?). To assign the events, I went around the room with a hat full of slips of paper labelling the events.  Students then watched a video (Schoology) relating to their specific event, and proceeded to write the report (Notability). During the writing process, I checked in with students to make sure they were on the right track.  Once they were done, students read the work of other students who wrote about the opposite event in order to see both stories.  To close, the students discussed with one another something new they learned and something that surprised them, and then wrote (on paper) an exit ticket asking if they thought acts of rebellion by the colonists were justified.

Today’s takeaway: the benefit of checking in with individual students while they complete individual work.  I had really great conversations with a student who normally struggles to stay on task and sometimes has a difficult time with the content – by talking with him, I was able to steer him in the right direction, and I could tell by our conversation that he was engaged with the material.   After talking with that particular student – and seeing him really care about the information we were studying, I walked away from the lesson with a good feeling – in that insistence, at least, I had taught a student something valuable.

Initiating these private/individual conversations has been a weakness of mine that I have improved on, and will continue to improve on as I move forward.  I need to remember that I can have just as valuable conversations with all the other students as well, even if I think that they don’t necessarily need my help.  I think that sometimes I am hesitant to talk to strong students because I don’t want to bother them; I remember in high school sometimes feeling like teachers were checking in too much when I didn’t need any help.  I need to recognize the fact that not all strong students will necessarily share that feeling with me, so checking in should be done often, but intentionally – I should check in to discuss matters/issues that may apply to that individual student, not just check in for the sake of checking in.

Day 14 – “Which one do you have?” “…I have to kill a bunch of people.”

Content Area Reading #7 – Singer says…

Social Studies for Secondary Schools by Alan J. Singer. 4th edition. Chapters 4 (What are our goals?) and Chapter 5 (Is social studies teaching political?)

I chose to read these chapters to switch up my weekly content area reading – I have been reading articles from the NCSS lately, so I decided to return to Singer’s work.

Summary/Important Points:

Chapter 4 – What are our goals?

  • Goals are there related to social studies
  • Transmission model (“banking concept”) v. inquiry-based approach (centers on student questions/research and student-student/student-teacher interaction)
  • Start unit and lesson planning with: What is important to know about the topic and why? How will I make important content and concepts available to students in a way that is meaningful to them? (54)
  • Integrating goals into classroom practice – overplan lessons, know that no rules guarantee consistency
  • Social studies skills – literacy, numeracy, chronological thinking, historical comprehension, historical analysis and interpretation, historical research, historical issue analysis and decision making
  • State learning standards – each educational organization has its own list of what children should know, every city/county/state has its own ideas too.

Chapter 5 – Is social studies teaching “political”?

  • Everything is political
  • Debate on “National History Standards” was heated – some didn’t want to be confined by the standards, but they were mostly just classroom suggestions
  • Should teachers express their own opinions in class? Sometimes it is not appropriate, but it can be beneficial for students
  • Academic freedom – “the right and responsibility to study, investigate, present, interpret, discuss, and debate relevant facts, issues, and ideas in fields of the teacher’s professional competence” (78)
  • Teachers can encourage students to work for social justice, but it is up to the community
  • Teachers can empower students by listening and encouraging them to take risks

3 Things I Want to Remember:

  • 1. Different kinds of goals for social studies teachers: broad pedagogical goals (reflect teaching philosophies), conceptual goals and content goals (understanding history and social studies), skills goals (social studies, general academics, social skills), personal goals (for own professional growth).
  • 2. John Dewey’s key concepts of his progressive educational philosophy: experience (connect subject matter to existing experiences of students), freedom (allowing students to achieve individual and social goals), community (shared experiences, joint action), habits of mind (intelligence, judgment, self-control)
  • 3. Everything is political, especially social studies – “Our main choice as social studies teachers is whether we allow political forces to dictate to us, or we become activists who shape what takes place in our classrooms and who influence broader policy debates.” (71)

2 Controversial Ideas

  • 1. “Should the view that there is an evolving national consensus  be assumed, or should multiple views be presented to students so they can sift through evidence and explanations to formulate their own interpretations?” (75) – I think multiple views should be presented so students can come to their own conclusions about events. If we only present one side of history, then we are leaving out important perspectives and stories that add to the full picture. For example, if we teach students about racial discrimination in the American South, and not in the North, then we are not giving students the whole story of what life was like for blacks in the 20th century.
  • 2. As a teacher, sharing your opinions with the class can be controversial – many say you shouldn’t do it at all. But, sharing your opinions can be a good thing: it can open up discussion, set an example for students, encourages students to take intellectual risks, and teach students that there should be a tolerance of diverse ideas.

1 Question

  • 1. Do colleges/universities create content standards? Or is it up to individual professors to develop their own?
Content Area Reading #7 – Singer says…

Day 13 – “What test?”


“gonoodle” – dancing to wake up!
Setting goals
“I am” poems


summative assessment on schoology
summative assessment
summative assessment on the colonies
for 7th graders, some fun time to do a kahoot on the French and Indian War
for 8th graders, time to do the homework they forgot!

Today’s big takeaway:


It can be super easy for a teacher to “lose their mind”, especially when students do not listen to instructions and consequently fail to follow directions. There were many students who walked into the classroom and honestly believed that they hadn’t been told there was going to be a test today.  Out of all of the eighth graders (two different sections), only one completed a homework assignment that was assigned at the beginning of the week, although it was clearly communicated to the students and available on the students’ Schoology accounts.  This can be very frustrating, but teachers must remember to stay composed and continue on with instruction as best they can.  In this case, my cooperating teacher was able to build in some time for students to complete the assignment.  However, my teacher is finishing up learning about the colonies, so the fact that her students failed to complete the assignment delays her plans moving forward.

Flexibility is the name of the game!

Day 13 – “What test?”

Day 12 – “Bweep”

Today’s practicum…

  • ADVISORY — Students finished their “Coat of Arms”, which displays a personal goal, interests, role models, and individual mottos. They were supposed to begin writing a “I am” poem, but they did not get to that.  At the very end of this allotted time, my cooperating teacher put on a video with a skeleton dancing, and everyone (teachers included) stood up and mimicked the skeleton.
  • CLASS — Students handed in their current event assignment, and took notes on the colonies with the teacher. While they were taking notes, I read through their current events and graded them based on content (if they had a title, the date, where the information came from, a summary, how the event impacts people, and why they chose the article).  At the end of class, the students were allowed to play a Kahoot because they had done a good job paying attention during the note taking.

Today’s takeaway…

While reading through the current events, I was astonished to see the difference in writing levels among students.  Most students fell in the “middle” of the writing spectrum, but there were definitely some outliers.  There were one or two students who clearly have a great understanding of writing – they were able to summarize, explain, and describe in a clear and coherent way.  Other students, however, were significantly behind their peers in writing levels – even several grades behind.  There were incomplete sentences, unconjugated verbs, and no explanation or even description of the current event.  Having such discrepancies in writing ability is tough for teachers – especially in secondary grades – to address.  The curriculum is already full of content-related standards that take up the teacher’s time and energy – it’s hard to incorporate writing skills into that already packed schedule.  Plus, having to stop and take the time to teach basic writing is not engaging at all for students who do not need it.  It’s critical for teachers to take the time to learn their students’ writing levels so that they can  create lesson plans that allow all students to thrive while at the same time appropriately challenge students.  The timing of this “revelation” for me is quite favorable, as I am creating a lesson plan that requires students to write.  Knowing that writing abilities differ so drastically, I can adjust my plan accordingly.

Day 12 – “Bweep”

Content Area Reading #6 – Dear Mr. President

“An Open Letter to President Barack Obama from C. Frederick Risinger” by C. Frederick Risinger. Social Education 74(2) pp. 338-339. 2010

I chose to read this article because I was browsing through the NCSS publications and stumbled upon this one. I noticed it was written in 2010, so I thought it would be interesting to look at how the content of the letter may have changed from then to now. This letter was short, so I supplemented it with thoughtful reflection and further research about the Department of Education and national social studies initiatives.

In this letter, Risinger, former President of NCSS, responded to President Obama’s call for more focus on science and mathematics in education. Risinger acknowledges the importance of these subjects on the American economy and in industries, but he calls on Obama to take a stand in upholding and protecting social studies education.

3 things I want to remember (inspired from the reading):

  • 1. An advisory committee for social studies education can be created in one of three ways: “By law—statutory; By executive order of the President; and By agency authority.” (US Dept. of Education). Although people often say that the President has no power, he legitimately reserves the power to create such an advisory board that would work to promote social studies education across the country.
  • 2. In the 1990s, as the standards movement was emerging, the NCSS created a Task a Force on Social Studies Standards. In 1994, they created a “National Standards” document which was “used widely as a framework for social studies educators as a curriculum alignment and development tool” (NCSS).  Since then states have created their own social studies standards, and there are also national initiatives that have arose to provide a guide for states. In 2007, a new Task Force began to reexamine and update the NCSS Standards according to current research. These have three parts to them: ten themes, learning expectations, and examples of classroom practice. (This information comes from the NCSS website, written by President Steven A. Goldberg 2010-2011 –
  • 3. Social studies education matters! “I have never seen such political animosity; inability to work together, name-calling, and extreme polarization…even in the 1960’s during the anti-Vietnam War era.  I have never seen such political apathy among our student-age population – an apathy that extends to all ages.  I have never seen such unwillingness to enter into discussions of issues and agree on policies that are in the best interests of all Americans.  I believe that a major factor in this deterioration of what I term as pluralistic citizenship behavior is the marginalization of social studies/citizenship education in the pre-K-12 curriculum throughout the nation.” (338) It’s pretty amazing to me that many of these issues can be corrected in the classroom alone (only with adequate and effective social studies educational curriculum, of course).


2 controversial things

  • 1. “A recent academic study of time spent on various subjects areas in K-6 classrooms found that nearly 32% of students were receiving only 25 minutes of social studies/citizenship education per week.” (338) this number is astonishing! It is no wonder that many students come into secondary level education with no “backbone” in social studies. This puts heavy pressure on middle and high school social studies teachers who have to not only reach certain standards, but have to provide most of the basis of these students’ social studies background.
  • 2. Why, even six years after he wrote this letter, is there still no commission, presidential or not, on social studies education in the U.S. Department of Education? This department has plenty of other important commissions – listed below – that are great to have, but I can’t wrap my head around why there isn’t one for social studies. In order to have active, informed citizens, it is critical to provide individuals with background knowledge and skills related to the field of social studies. Risinger even pointed out individuals who could co-chair the commission – all the executive office would need to do would be to give the “ok”.U.S. Dept. of Education boards and commissions:
  • Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Advisory Board
  • National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity
  • National Advisory Council on Indian Education
  • National Board for Education Sciences
  • National Board of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education
  • President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
  • President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
  • President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence For Hispanics
  • President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Operational Committees 
  • Commission on Presidential Scholars (CPS)
  • National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation
  • Independent Organizations Affiliated with ED 
  • National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB)


1 question

  • 1. Will our new president (Clinton or Trump) care about social studies education at all? What will they do to promote the interests of social studies?
Content Area Reading #6 – Dear Mr. President