Secondary Social Studies Newsletter

October 2014

The Reality of
Planning for Learning?

How can we take what we learned on August 19th about Planning for Learning and transfer that into our day-to-day lives as educators.  While ideally, we would love to have 1/2 day planning sessions for each unit we teach, that is not a reality.  So how to do make it work?   

Let's look at one Middle School Collaborative Planning group making it happen.  Three weeks before the next unit starts, the team commits to working everyday until the new unit is planned.  They know this will be a 5-6 day process in middle school.  

Day 1: All members of the team show up prepared to discuss the unit assessment.  They have the printed test banks and Blue Books in hand with notes on the questions about the ones they liked, the ones they wanted to change, and the ones that needed to be thrown out based on last year's data or other analysis.  As a group, they compare notes and determine which questions they will use on their test, as well as, which ones they may use for any retest.  With the assessment in mind, are their any skills or content that need to be added to the clarification section of the Blue Book to ensure alignment? If time allows, teachers will create their review for the test.

Day 2: Team members meet again to discuss formative assessment points in the unit.  This time they will work to complete the third column, that is currently blank in the Blue Book.  Together they will discuss what mastery looks like and what questions they need to be asking the students to check for understanding.   These discussions may lend themselves to also discussing the activities that go along with the formative assessment, but the focus should be targeting formative assessment on this day.

Day 3-4: Each member of the team, comes to planning, having reviewed the lessons on Eduphoria, what they used last year in the unit, and new ideas for the unit.  The team members will go through and discuss each lesson and align each one to the TEKS in the unit.  They may choose to do this on sticky notes and place the stickyies on the Blue Book to get a visual of how many activities they have for each TEKS and determine, if they have too much or too little to cover each standard.  Teams will agree to write new lessons if needed and update student handouts to coincide with the teams decisions.  They will also discuss their students and determine what's best for each child and how they might differentiate this unit.  Finally, teams will determine if they need to collaborate with another group (technology, SPED, ELL, GT, etc) to develop an activity for this unit.

Day 5: Teams will discuss grading opportunities and determine what they will grade and how they will grade each activity.  Teams will then, finalize tests, copies, and calendars.  Items can then be sent to the print shop and the team can determine when their next planning session will happen.

Using Strategies to Analyze Primary Sources

Students at Wakeland High School using OPTIC to analyze visuals in class.

Don't forget to introduce, reinforce, and utilize the district's vertical skills for analyzing primary sources.  By using these strategies we are equipping students with the necessary skills and confidence needed to tackle difficult texts and images on their own.  Below is a reminder of what each grade level in middle school introduces.  An electronic version of the strategies, including student handouts, and poster printables are loaded into Eduphoria under "Social Studies Strategies".

October 2nd, marks the beginning of which major revolution?

SOAPPS— Primary Document Analysis (Introduced in 6th)

Subject, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Point of View, Speaker, Tone

APPARTS— Document Analysis (Introduced in 8th)

Author, Place (and time), Prior knowledge, Audience, Reason, The main idea,


OPTIC—Evaluating Visuals (Introduced in 6th)

Overview, Parts, Titles (words), Interrelationships, Conclusion

SOCLEAR– Interpreting Political Cartoons (Introduced in 8th)

Symbols, Opinions, Characters, Labels, Exaggeration, Agree, Response

* Please note, you are not limited to these strategies, these are only a minimum for vertical alignment.

District Middle School Collaboration

Back by popular demand, we will host several middle school collaboration meetings this year.   In these meetings, you have a chance to connect with teachers across the district to share ideas, problem-solve, and create together.  A huge thank you to all of the principals for their support on our Wednesday meeting time.  We chose these dates to offer our coaches an opportunity to attend.  Please note, if these dates conflict with other meetings, we will send out notes to those who are unable to attend.  The meetings will be available for sign up in Eduphoria soon.  Be on the look out for registration information.  

October 15th 4:15-5:30, Admin Annex, Maple Street

December 10th 4:15-5:30, CTE Training Rooms

January 28th 4:15-5:30, Admin Training Rooms

March 4th 4:15-5:30, Admin Training Rooms

Integrating Technology Into Your Planning For Learning

Want to make your Blue Book digital for planning?  Take the PDF version that is loaded into Eduphoria and upload it into PDF Notes.  This is a free app for the iPad that will allow you to type and write in the planner digitally.  You can then email the document to team members and anyone else who might like a copy of your unit planning.  Even better, you will have an electronic copy of all planning from this year, that can easily be tweak next year and save the team a lot of time during the reflection portion of planning.  

Update on Textbook Adoption

Thank you to everyone who took a few minutes to complete the Textbook Usage Survey.  Your feedback and comments will help guide our district in the upcoming K-12 Social Studies Adoption.  In the next few weeks, we will be asking for your interest in serving on a textbook adoption committee and forming those committees.  More information regarding logistics, time commitments, and timeline will be shared soon.

American History Essay Contest
"A Child's Journey Through Ellis Island"

   Every year, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) sponsors an American History Essay Contest. The year 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Ellis Island as an immigration station. On a typical day, immigrants arriving on the island could expect to spend up to seven hours in processing activities intended to determine whether or not they were legally and medically fit to enter the United States. Imagine yourself as a child traveling through Ellis Island in 1892. How would you describe your experience to your cousin who has never heard of Ellis Island?  All 5th , 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students are eligible to participate.

All essays must be the student's original work and submitted to the Preston Ridge Chapter (DAR), no later than November 21st, 2014. One winner from each grade will receive a Barnes & Noble Gift Card and will be honored along with their teacher, at the Preston Ridge Chapter Awards Night in April 2015. All students who submit an essay will receive a Certificate of Participation.

To receive an essay packet, which includes Guidelines, Format, Length, Bibliography, Judging and Deadlines, contact Joann Slaven.   

Joann Slaven

203 N. Parvin St, Prosper, TX 75078
American History Essay Contest Chair

Preston Ridge Chapter – Frisco, TX

Email:  bjslaven@yahoo.comPhone:  214-695-7651


American Railroad Museum Resources and Outreach Programs

The American Railroad Museum in Frisco is now offering quality programming to North Texas schools. These can be offered on campus or at the museum and were developed with a partnership with FISD. The Museum programs are suitable for both middle school and high school and are aligned to the Social Studies TEKS.

Below is a link to the program announcement on the Museum’s homepage:

Below is a link to the Educational Program Directory:

Calling all Veterans

Please take a minute to complete our Veterans Day form below if you are an United States Military Veteran.  We would like to show our appreciation and honor you next month.  Simply click on the link below to access the survey.

Congratulations to Jon Youngblood

Jon was last month's winner of the newsletter trivia!  Jon will receive a set of Clear Protectors to use in his class.  Missed last months question?  No worries, you still have a chance to win this month.  Look for the trivia question embedded in the newsletter and respond to Dodie Kasper or Meridith Manis with your answer to be entered into a drawing.  

Updated Contact Info

On Monday, October 6th, Meridith Manis' email will roll over to - please update in your contacts.  Until then, continue to use