Secondary Social Studies Newsletter
January 2015

Liberty's AP European History classes participated in a socratice Seminar on the 18th century "Enlightenment" Era.

Backwards Planning for Learning v. Backwards Planning for Teaching
How do these look different?

Consider the following quote from General Ruben Cubero, Dean of the Faculty of the United States Air Force Academy.

As you enter a classroom ask yourself this question: “If there were no students in the room, could I do what I am planning to do?” If your answer to the question is yes, don’t do it.”

In planning for teaching, the focus is on what I am going to teach, which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but the question we should be asking ourselves is “how do my students learn best and how will I know if my students got it?”  Should we direct teach or use student activities?  In social studies our students are required to know and apply a lot of content and this creates a dilemma on how to best convey this to students.

Direct teaching - If our focus is on direct teaching (which is not bad) – we have to ask ourselves how we will know if the students got it.  Have you thought about this?.... Simply add a reflection question every couple of slides and give students the opportunity to answer with a shoulder partner and then call on several to share out.  The key is to not make the question a knowledge level about what you just taught – for example:  Instead of "What were the causes of WWI?"  Ask… “How did nationalism and/or militarism cause World War I”?

Student activities – "These are great but I'm concerned my students won't know the material for the test."  Having students engage in activities without a take away will not get them prepared for the assessment.   Take a look at the activity – did the students walk away with something to study and/or is the activity accurately reflected in the assessment?  “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”  (Who said these words above? Why is this person important?  Send you responses to Dodie or Meridith for a chance to win this month's prize).

How to I make the shift to "backwards planning for learning"?  As you reflect on the unit your team has planned, look at each day and ask yourself…  “Did I meet the learning needs of my students and did they demonstrate to me that they learned what I wanted them to learn today?”.  If your answer is, “I have no idea”, take some time to reflect on what small adjustments you can make in formative assessment and engagement to make the learning stick.

Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. Inspired by advocates of nonviolence such as Mahatma Gandhi, King sought equality for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and victims of injustice through peaceful protest. He was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.

It's a BIG decision and we need YOUR help!

Later this month our textbook committee will be hearing presentations from publishers.  Please take time to review the materials that have arrived on your campuses and complete the Textbook Feedback form for each publisher with your team.  Each campus is assigned a social studies strand to help provide a complete review of the materials.  However, you are free to complete as many feedback forms as you would like if you catch something you want to point out in another strand.  To access the form and to see which strand you are assigned please click on the link below.

Hunt 8th graders went all out for their Constitutional Convention last month!

Top 5 Things to Remember about CBAs

Many of you are giving CBAs in December and January.  Here are just a few helpful reminders as we begin to gather informative data on our students in social studies.

5. Reviews are OK, but not ones that look just like the CBA!

4. Scan data into AWARE! It's important to have data on all students.

3. Any accommodations or modifications students receive on the STAAR/EOC should also be given on the CBAs.

2.  The CBA should NOT be a test grade! In fact, the teacher can curve grades for the grade book when appropriate.

1. The results are a to be an informative tool and not a diagnosis! Use the data to inform you instruction, tutorials, and reteach! Discuss it with your peers in collaborative planning and across the district with colleagues.


David Brewer won the November Newsletter Challenge.  He will receive a class set of clear protectors for his classroom.  Congratulations David and good luck to you all this month!

Interested in becoming an IC?

Job postings for Secondary Social Studies IC's will be posted soon.  Please be on the look out for the posting and apply with HR.  Dodie and Meridith will be screening for interviews in the next couple of weeks.