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A Quick Note on CCSS

Knowing that many of you may be spending your summers in lesson planning sessions or curriculum mapping meetings, I wanted to throw out a quick note about the implementation of the Common Core Standards in the Social Studies.

Plain and simple, implementing the standards into the Social Studies curriculum is not a challenging endeavor, and is not something requiring you to stress or worry.  Once you actually delve into the standards (You can find good information on the standards here:  Common Core State Standards), you will see that they are simply reinforcement of what is done, or should be done, in every Social Studies classroom across the country.  This is nothing new!

With our standards assisting in the support of the ELA standards, we are simply including activities typical to a solid, skills-based History, Government or Geography course.  Read.  Evaluate, sources, primary and secondary.  Examine images and other graphics for meaning.  Identify causation or cause-and-effect.  Understand the main ideas of the course.  We attack these standards in everything we do!

Now, onto two areas of concern for your standards-based planning...
First and foremost, acknowledge that "text" is NOT a textbook.  Throughout the CCSS, you will find the use of the word text to mean anything students will read in the classroom to gain knowledge and understanding of their course content.  This does not, in any way, suggest that students should be bound to the textbook.  Having researched for years the disservice done to students through the implementation of textbook only instruction, I am adamant that we should continue to teach outside the box in the Social Studies classroom, making our students experience a Walking Tour through History, as opposed to a dreaded drag through an incorrect and poorly written text.

Next, I want to stress to all Social Studies teachers that there are content-specific standards outlined for the Social Studies curriculum.  The National Council for the Social Studies has long established the learning objectives and standards for every History, Geography, and Government course.  Their Ten Themes of Social Studies can be a valuable tool to help you identify what students should learn in your classroom, and what they will be expected to understand as well-educated Social Studies citizens as adults.

In the end, just remember that you are not solely an extension of the English Department or part of a support team in the implementation of CCSS.  You are a Social Studies teacher, and we have our own objectives in the education of our students.  English. Math. Science. Social Studies.  They are all important!

Michele  :)

A Summer Read for Teachers

Was it one of those years? 

Are you ending the year with a thankful sigh of relief?

Have you been praying for weeks that this day would come?

Are you questioning your effectiveness this past year?  Did you really make an impact?  Did you make  difference?

Do you doubt why you are in this profession, but know it is simply where you belong?

After many years of teaching, I sat in my classroom at the end of the school year wondering why I kept coming back for more.  At the time, I was thinking about MORE changes, MORE paperwork, MORE extra duties, MORE content to cover, MORE testing to test, MORE MORE MORE!

At the same time, I had an amazing student teacher in my classroom asking met to write down all of the tips and tools I had shared with her in her placement through the spring semester.  No small task, considering we had spent every free moment before and after school each day talking about strategies, lesson ideas, classroom management, dealing with the administration, and everything else in the world of education.  Still, for her, I agreed to tackle the task.

But, before I started the "notebook" I was to create for her, I did what I knew I had to do.  As I have suggested for all teachers to do at the end of each school year, I stepped back to reflect on my year, starting with my student's exit slips.  As I read each students comments, I also reflected on teaching in general.  Did I really want to continue in this field?  Maybe writing the book would be my goodbye.  Maybe it could be my final lesson...

Nope!  Instead those student exit slips and the writing of the "notebook" became the greatest influences to keep me doing what I love and what I know I am called to do... teach! 

Writing all of my tips for new teachers became so cathartic.  It reminded me, that despite the stress of each school year, I truly love what I do.  And ironically, I love the stress!  I thrive on it!  And, it empowers me to do what I often call on my students to do - create the change in the world that we think is needed to make it a better place for us all!  From that year on, I not only worked with student teachers, but I also created a new teacher mentoring program and started working with local universities to help student teachers prepare better for their coming careers.

And, each year, as it comes to an end, I am reminded that I do make a difference in the lives of my students.  Through my tried and tested methods and madness, I  reach my kids and I instill in them the same love of learning that I have had all my life.

Just as I did on that day a few years ago, I sit in my classroom after that last day has ended, and I reflect.  I start the same way now as I did that day... reading my students' exit evaluations... their assessments of ME!  And inevitably,  I find the same types of responses I found back then.  I find encouragement and praise from those students who tested me the most, those who pushed my every button every day, those who challenged me each and every day, those I knew just hated me and every minute of my "Expect Excellence" classroom.  And then...

I find the ones from those very students that say, "You made a difference."

That's all I need to push me into my next year in the classroom.  It reminds me that, one way or another, I will always be a teacher.  It's what I love to do.  It's what I'm called to do in this crazy world!

So, do you need an encouraging summer read?  A book that may make you laugh while giving you tips for making each and every school year one that you will never forget, nor ever regret?

Well, here's that "notebook" I created for Miss Leslie.  Now it is the book I use as my launchpad for everything I do.  It is my Lesson Plan.  It is my Lesson Plan for Teachers!

A Lesson Plan for Teachers - download version
A Lesson Plan for Teachers - print version

Michele