Teaching Social Studies = Memories, Memories

Welcome to the 2015 version of the Social Studies blog! I hope your new year will be full of promise and learning!

Before I look forward to all that is happening in Social Studies in New York State, I want to reminisce a bit. Over the holidays, I had the chance to spend time with family far and wide and the conversations often ended up revolving around family memories: “Do you remember..?” “Remember when…?” “What about that time that…?” There were well known anecdotes, along with a few that were new to me (I must have been in the kitchen!) and even some revelations for my parents. My Mom commented that “I am still learning things after all these years!” Continue reading

“Out With the Old, In With the New:” Letting Go of Old Practices and Embracing New

Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”  Do you believe it to be true?  In last month’s blog, Erica Morat wrote about a “new hope.”  She gave us some insight to the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset.  In taking the quiz offered by Erica, which mindset did you discover for yourself?  Were you happy with what you discovered?  This month’s blog will help you discover the essential tools needed to adjust your mindset around change. Continue reading

APPR Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result, according to Einstein. Or Franklin. Or Twain. All three of these noteworthy thinkers have been reported to say this – and most often this axiom has been attributed to Einstein. He was, after all, both smart and witty. As it turns out, however, no one has been able to find this in his writing. Nonetheless, this oft-used truism applies to the system of Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) in New York State. In fact, we are trying to do the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result. Continue reading

Connection instead of Addiction

Heroin use is on the rise! We are hearing this all over the media. The governor has a campaign that provides resources to “Combat Heroin,” http://combatheroin.ny.gov/ .   If you are concerned about a young person, check out the “warning signs” tab on the site or if you want to learn more about the addiction listen to the “real stories” section. This site will help parents, educators, young people and concerned community members understand the issues involved in addictions and what steps to take to get the help needed either for themselves or for a person they are connected to. Continue reading

Learning through Reflection

As I begin this New Year, I find myself reflecting on the experiences I have had over the past year. This reflection gives me the opportunity to learn from my experiences and to set goals for the New Year. Of course, learning through reflection does not have to be a once-a-year event. Rather, reflection should be a daily habit as a means to grow and improve. Isn’t this what we want from our students—to be reflective learners. The question is, “How can we help our students learn through reflection so that it becomes a daily habit?”

One answer to this question is to design projects with frequent opportunities to reflect both as individuals and as part of a team. By doing so, we provide them with time to think, to explore their thoughts and feelings, to gain new understandings, fresh insights, and to develop a sense of self-awareness. Continue reading

Total Engagement: Lessons from the Dogs

Issy and Molly Totally Engaged
Issy & Molly totally engaged!

This morning prior to coming to work, I took time to play with the canines that share our home. In doing so, not only was it fun for me but it struck me how they were both totally engaged. Issy will wait for several minutes just for that ball to be tossed- her entire body at attention, quivering with excitement, with laser like focus waiting for any subtle indication of direction I will toss the ball. No one can dispute that she is totally engaged in the play. Molly (much older dog) will wait with full attention for any command – anticipating the tasty treat that follows. Training for her, is both work and play and has a level of satisfaction for her. As I then drove to work, thinking about finishing my blog entry on student engagement the parallels struck me. Continue reading

Captivating Student Interest in the New Year

New Year – new goals! Every January I make plans to do something to improve my life. Sometimes it’s a pledge to move more or eat less sugar – but it’s a pledge that is always in the back of my mind throughout the year – even when I face setbacks. And, it’s a personal pledge – one that I have control over. This year, I’m home, recovering from knee surgery, and have made a pledge to do everything I can to make a full recovery. How does this lead to a blog on student engagement? Well, it got me thinking about aspects of teaching that are in the control of the individual teacher. We don’t always have control over the technical changes at school: schedules, testing times, duties, meetings, lesson plan templates, school or district initiatives, and even which students are in our classes. But…we can make a pledge to increase student engagement in our classroom – every day. That is something we have complete control over. Continue reading