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the youngest learners
July 12, 2018
How social studies can help young students make sense of the world
Civic engagement matters today more than ever, yet social studies in the early grades are sidelined. Educators sometimes seek help outside of school.
June 20, 2018
Rise & Shine: Penalties for schools that teach two languages at once
Good morning! As the clock ticks down on a school year that, for many Detroit children, will end tomorrow, we’ve been spending some…
May 4, 2017
Lawmakers want a whole semester of Tennessee history — but aren’t sure how schools can fit that in
The proposal emerges as the state is poised to adopt new social studies standards that include fewer state-specific facts.
April 21, 2017
Tennessee’s long journey to new social studies standards nears its finish line
The State Board of Education approves revised and shortened standards in the first of two votes, but debate continues over state-specific facts.
Seeking a balance
April 6, 2017
Educators behind Tennessee’s proposed social studies standards say they’ll cover important history and ‘dig deep’
By reducing the number of social studies standards by 14 percent overall, educators charged with revising them hope to give teachers more time to go deep.
October 28, 2016
You’ve heard what Buzzfeed thinks about Tennessee’s social studies standards. Here’s what teachers say.
Despite some public backlash about proposed new social studies standards, many Tennessee teachers welcome the changes.
October 13, 2016
This Tennessee teacher will tour cemeteries in Hawaii, California and the Philippines. Here’s why.
A STEM teacher in Clarksville, Whitney Joyner talks about her unique national opportunity, and how she plans to bring what she learns to the classroom.
June 1, 2016
With no mention of proselytizing, social studies teachers drill down on Tennessee standards
Social studies teachers from across the state kick off a review of the subject's academic standards, with revisions to reach Tennessee classrooms in 2019.
March 8, 2016
‘Religious indoctrination’ bill could restrict teacher autonomy beyond social studies
A bill aimed at curbing "religious indoctrination" in Tennessee public schools is written in such a way that it could instead curb teacher autonomy.
January 22, 2016
Tennessee launches review of social studies standards amid concerns over world religion studies
The State Board of Education kicks off its social studies standards review, while state legislators file bills to alter how world religions are taught in middle school.
December 23, 2015
How role-playing levels the playing field in my high school English class
In an excerpt from his new book, Harvest Collegiate teacher David Sherrin explains how a simple technique helps engage his high-performers — and those who struggle.
October 6, 2015
Social Studies standards review catalyzed by more than lessons on Islam
While the inclusion of Islam in social studies standards has grabbed recent headlines, teachers are more concerned about the volume of the standards — not the content.
August 3, 2015
Tennessee Blue Book becomes source of online lesson plans
In conjunction with Secretary of State Tre Hargett's office, seven teachers design a curriculum based on the definitive almanac of Tennessee state government.
February 13, 2015
Ritz jumps on board with Pence consultants' ideas to shorten ISTEP
After a contentious week of criticizing each other, Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence appear to mostly be on the same page…
February 10, 2015
Glenda Ritz's team fires back at Pence, says no changes planned for ISTEP — yet
A spokesman for state Superintendent Glenda Ritz today rejected Gov. Mike Pence’s call to shorten the state ISTEP exam, calling his claims that…
January 20, 2015
Overtesting concerns could derail bill's proposal for civics exam (updated)
The question of whether Indiana high school graduates should pass a civics test is running up against an emerging concern that Hoosier children are simply…
November 11, 2014
As changes come to social studies testing, it’s time to reinvent the teaching
Social studies teacher Stephen Lazar: Making the global history Regents exam optional for many students offers an opportunity to redesign social studies classes to make them more relevant and engaging.
September 24, 2014
Tests or no tests, Fariña says social studies is 'not optional'
Chancellor Fariña wants to see social studies taught in every school, but some teachers say the need to focus on state-tested subjects leaves them little time for social studies.
August 27, 2014
Because of 100 percent passing rate, Tennessee creates new social studies test
After more than a decade of neglect, the state has revamped social studies standards and the assessments to go with them. This year, students will take field tests based on the standards that won’t impact their grades. Social studies will not be included on the 2014-2015 report card. The next year, the assessment on the new test will count for students and schools, and the marks probably won’t be as high, reflecting the distribution for other subjects more closely.
August 13, 2014
Science, social studies test results could be a surprise
Next month some Colorado parents will get the news that their kids perhaps didn’t score as well on science and social studies tests as Mom and Dad might have expected, an experience likely to be repeated on a larger scale next year after new online language arts and math tests launch.
The Guidelines they are a-changin'
April 29, 2014
New York approves new social studies curriculum guidelines, with Common Core influence
State policymakers have approved the first major overhaul of New York’s social studies curriculum in 15 years, but some supporters worry that its impact will be limited.
January 16, 2014
State aims to close Common Core social studies gap with new curriculum
For the first time in 15 years, the state has revamped its instructional roadmap for social studies to incorporate the Common Core standards. But critics say it still includes too much content.
March 7, 2013
Criticism of state's proposed social studies standards mounts
City teachers are waging a campaign against the state's proposed high school social studies standards, before a Friday deadline to give feedback. On Tuesday, Harvest Collegiate High School history teacher Stephen Lazar argued in the GothamSchools Community section that the standards undermine their own goals by overwhelming focuses on skills and historical thinking with an immense amount of content. Throughout the week, other high school social studies teachers have been adding their objections in their own online forum, a website called "Insightful Social Studies." The teachers are recruiting other educators to join them in constructing an alternate set of standards if the Board of Regents approves the proposed standards without substantial revision. Several short essays are online already, and more are coming. Below, you can find excerpts from some of the pieces that are up so far.
September 13, 2012
State releases roadmap for Common Core-aligned social studies
Social studies teachers who want to align their instruction to the Common Core have so far gotten only limited guidance: The new curriculum standards exist only for literacy and math, and a search of the city's resource library comes up bare. Now, they are getting a helping hand from the State Education Department, which today released a proposal for revising what is taught in social studies and when.
September 10, 2012
Instead of eliminating global studies exam, state could revamp it
State Education Commissioner John King presented education proposals before the Board of Regents today. ALBANY — Months after considering a plan to stop requiring students to pass a global history final exam in order to graduate from high school, state education officials are instead contemplating overhauling the test. Under a proposal that the officials presented before the Board of Regents today, the state's two-year high school global studies course would be divided in two. The first year would cover "foundational skills" economics, world history, geography, and civics and culminate in an end-of-course exam. The second year would focus on themes and trends across world cultures and be aligned to more rigorous standards that the state is developing for social studies instruction. Only the material from the second year would appear on a Regents exam required for graduation. Adjusting the current exam to conclude the second course would cost between $500,000 and $1 million, officials said. Creating a new test for the first course would cost more. The proposal is the second one floated about the global studies exam in less than six months. Back in April, state education officials asked the Regents to allow them to make the exam optional in order to let students take other courses instead, particularly math and science classes that are seen as increasingly important in preparing students for college. That proposal has been tabled for now, after social studies educators and some Regents balked at the idea. The exam, which covers about 2.5 million years worth of world history over the span of freshman and sophomore years, has the lowest pass rate of any of the five Regents tests currently required for graduation, and some critics said the state wanted to make it easier for students to graduate at the expense of a core subject.
December 19, 2011
Editor's blog: How to have a sane holiday break.
Between ridiculous "white elephant" gift exchanges, schedules choked with holiday parties, and lists upon lists of holiday tasks to be completed, the holiday break can feel like anything but. Get some tips on how to make your break full of love and learning.
April 26, 2011
The end of the state Social Studies test is condemned in a study
A study released last week concluded that New Yorkers lack a robust understanding of the Constitution. Also buried in the paper: a damning condemnation of…
February 9, 2011
Ask an Expert: I have a really smart kid who struggles in school
When you attend parent-teacher conferences, what do you typically hear about your son? Does it vary depending on the content area (reading, writing, math, science, social studies, etc.)? Do his teachers talk about his behavior in a negative way?
November 5, 2010
Week of Nov. 1: Teaching & learning tidbits
This week's T&L tidbits are juicy indeed: Michelle Rhee's parting words; new tech grants for Colo. schools, an overview on teaching math and science in the nation's schools and a push for social studies to be tested on standardized tests in Colorado.
July 12, 2010
The social studies test that some Queens students took twice
Selections from the 2009 fifth-grade social studies test. The principal who allowed her fifth-graders to re-take parts of the state social studies test told the Times that she had a good reason for doing so. The students, she said, had somehow failed to answer entire sections of the test. How is that possible? While the Department of Education prepares an official investigation, we thought we'd look at the test itself. A low-stakes annual exam that's the first in a battery of social studies tests that students take between fifth and eighth grade, the 2009 test is divided into two booklets. Booklet 1 has multiple choice questions and questions that require short written answers. Booklet 2 has "document-based questions" that require short written answers and an essay. The existence of each booklet and all three parts is clearly stamped on the front page of Booklet 1. Here's each booklet in turn:
August 3, 2009
DOE: Budget cuts fuel social studies, science score shortfalls
City schools are scoring higher on state math and reading tests, but they remain near the bottom of all districts statewide on science and social studies tests, a situation that schools officials attribute to budget cuts. Although social studies and science scores rose last year, they remain very low compared to scores in the rest of the state. Only five of the city's 32 school districts performed scored at better than the 10th percentile in science, meaning that 90 percent of districts statewide scored better than 27 city districts. In contrast, 18 districts scored at the 10th percentile or higher in math. Even in high-performing districts, fourth and eighth graders perform poorly on science and social studies tests compared to other students in the state. For example, Manhattan's District 2 outperformed 86 percent of districts in the state in math. In reading, District 2 students beat out students in 78 percent of districts. But in science, the district scored in just the 27th percentile, meaning that 73 percent of districts had higher average science scores. The discrepancy, highlighted in the test score comparison tool launched by the New York Times today, gives ammunition to critics who say the city schools have focused so much on math and reading that they have given short shrift to other subjects. The early years of Mayor Bloomberg's Children First reforms did focus most heavily on math and reading, a department spokesman said today. Now, the city is trying to boost science and social studies performance by introducing some of the same strategies that worked for math and reading, such as offering a standardized curriculum in each subject, said the spokesman, Will Havemann.
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