Wednesday, August 23, 2017

American Studies section integrates English 11 and 20th Century America

In 2017-18 CJ Hansen, social studies teacher, and Michael Soehl, English teacher, will be implementing a double block course that integrates 11th grade English and U.S. History.  The course is newly designed and thematic based rather than following a strict chronology.  Students will be learning literacy skills in a 20th century history platform starting with a unit on the theme "Democracy".  Both Hansen and Soehl have experimented with personalized learning ideas of voice, choice and learner autonomy and hope to implement these concepts in the new interdisciplinary course.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Action Civics pilot results in two sections in 2017-18

In 2016-17 Jeff Bergstrom piloted his Action Civics authentic learning course in one of his American Institutions classes.  Rather than traditional U.S. government lessons, Mr. Bergstrom implemented several hands on community based activities that allowed students to learn about their government first hand.  This project based pilot was so successful that he now has two Action Civics classes in 2017-18.  Following are just a few of the authentic experiences students engaged in.

  • Conducted an evening debate between Republican and Democrat candidates for the 86th Wisconsin assembly.
  • Engaged in a month long electronic simulation with grad students at the University of William and Mary to simulate political action groups around the issue of fracking.
  • Took students to Madison to job shadow their representatives at the Capital.
  • Had students engaged in problem solving projects in the local community!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dual Credit Current Events in Criminal Justice

John Muraski, who created one of the only Forensic Fundamentals high school courses in Wisconsin has now successfully created a dual enrollment course with North Central Technical College in Wausau titled Current Events in Criminal Justice!  This year he has two sections and is now working diligently to dual enroll his Sociology course!  John works hard to bring authentic real world experiences to the classroom.

Advanced Historians - Senior High APUSH

The social studies department also began experimenting with elements of personalized learning

We began with implementing the Genius Hour project that we learned about from A.J. Juliani.  In 2015-16 we made this year long personal choice project optional in the APUSH classroom.  Then this past year in 2016-17 we required all students to select an American problem that they would present using some form of technology in an 8 minute format during an evening we called APUSH Ted Talks! Parents, teachers and administrations provided an authentic audience for over 100 presentations delivered in 20 different classrooms.

At the Senior High the Advanced Historian model was piloted in the Advanced Placement U.S. History class. During the first quarter, two APUSH instructors identified 9 students who stood out academically in class and displayed independent learning qualities.  Eight students agreed to partake in the pilot during the final three quarters of the course.  These students were given the option of coming to class or working independently on the unit learning targets in the social studies resource center.  Students were given a Moodle website from which to choose resources to meet the learning targets.  These students also added their own favorite websites to the Moodle page.  Students were given the same assessments as those in the regular class.  These students moved through the curriculum and learning targets far faster than the students in regular class and scored much higher on the assessments.  The students did attend class approximately 20% of the time, although some individuals never went to the regular class.  Prior to the APUSH national exam the Advanced Historians led study sessions to prepare their peers for the exam.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

8th Grade Advanced Historians

During the past three years the D. C. Everest Social Studies department has brought elements of personalized learning into several of its classrooms 6-12.  After visits to the Chaska, MN middle schools and reading several books on personalized learning by Bray and McCaskey as well as Spencer and Juliani ( put in links to books).  The staff was particularly interested in providing students with more voice and choice in the classroom as well as learner autonomy.

In the junior high, the 8th grade team (Nancy Gajewski, Christian Ammon, Mark Bohlman, and Lori LaPorte) implemented two programs the Voyager program and the Advanced Historians.

The Voyager Program allowed students to have some choice as to how much time they needed to spend in the classroom getting direct instruction. If students felt they could master the material on their own or in a small group they were able to work in the Personalized Learning. Students did the regular curriculum 90 percent of the time with a few special projects thrown in. 

The second year of the program led to the creation of Advanced Historians under the direction of Nancy Gajewski, which was a group of 12 students who were given a "compacted" semester curriculum in four weeks. This allowed each student to develop an approved history project of his/her choice.  The project was non graded and a final grade was based on student self-evaluations, reflections, and written feedback from peers.  Students met regularly with their teacher as well as the Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator and the Assistant Superintendent.  Students presented their final projects in front of parents and administrators during an evening program.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Civil War Day 2012

This year 8th grade students participated in the 6th annual D.C. Everest Civil War Day. Students spend a day learning about the life of a Civil War soldier. Different history classes represent the Union and Confederate soldiers. Each specific history class represents a regiment such as the 8th Wisconsin or the 69th New York. The class chooses a commander, drummer, and flag carriers. Students dress like a Civil War soldier.

In the morning students viewed two large group presentations and then ate a “Civil War lunch” before marching over to Kennedy Park for the afternoon. There was an Opening Ceremony at Kennedy Park complete with cannons being fired. After the Opening Ceremony, students attended stations to learn about life during the Civil War. Some of the stations included the following: John Brown, Civil War Band, Lincoln’s Assassination, Sherman’s March to the Sea, Civil War Marching, Civil War Medicine, Quilts in the Civil War, Lincoln/Douglas Debates, Cannons/Weapons in the Civil War, Daily Soldier Life. The stations were run by high school students, teachers and community members.

Monday, August 20, 2012

DCE Oral History Project Publishes Holocaust Book

Social Studies Teacher Jeff Bergstrom Speaks at INTECH 2012

Jeff Bergstrom was the keynote speaker on Thursday, August 16th at the Intech Conference. His presentation was outstanding; it was informative and motivating. Jeff shared his presentation below.

Several D.C. Everest social studies teachers were fortunate enough to participate in the InTech 2012 workshop in Edgar, Wisconsin.  This conference was meant to give teachers the tools to “flip” their classrooms.  According to John Bergman, author of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student In Every Class Every Day, in the flipped classroom, “that which is traditionally done in class is now done at home, and that which is traditionally done as homework is now completed in class.  But…there is more to a flipped classroom than this.”   
There are a variety of simple tools that can be used to create interactive videos for the flipped classroom.  One simple way to create a screencast video is Screencast-o-MaticScreencast-o-Matic is a free web service that allows teachers to create their own screencasts.  By simply pressing record, the program records everything that the teacher says and does on the computer.  By using this tool teachers can quickly and easily record classroom lectures, powerpoint presentations and demonstrations.  Student then have the ability to watch these screen casts outside of class.  This can be an invaluable tool for the student who needs to see and hear things numerous times before he or she “gets it.”   A second tool to help with the flipped classroom is the website Qwiki.   Qwiki allows teachers to make short (1 minute) videos quickly and easily.  The site even allows one’s voice to be put in the short video.  Although the site only allows one minute videos, one can “link” numerous videos together to actually create one longer video.  A third tool to assist in the flipped classroom is the website Vialouges .  Once a video is uploaded to vialouges, one is able to create multiple choice questions to go along with the video.  Using this site student’s are able to watch a video (either created by the teacher or one that already exists) and answer multiple choice questions as the video plays.  Finally, the Flubaroo website allows flipped videos to be more interactive by creating self-grading quizzes using google forms.   Other sites to help with the flipped classroom can be found at: Web 2.0 Tools for the Blended Classroom.
            At the InTech conference Jon Bergman was quick to point out that the flipped classroom was NOT the answer to all of the educational issues.  The flipped classroom, however, is one way to better meet the needs of all students in the classroom.  By having students watch and learn from teacher created videos outside of the classroom, actually in class time can be better utilized for higher level thinking activities like Socratic discussions, project based learning and classroom debates.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Social Studies Teachers Attend Moodle and Intech Conferences

 Several social studies teachers attended the four day Intech 2012 Conference held at Edgar High School. The Intech Conferences began many years ago and were the brain child of Lois Alt and Sue Kuhnmuench. This year's conference featured Jon Bergman, one of the co-creators of the flipped classroom. He discussed how to get the best use out of classtime by providing some of the instruction outside of class. Teachers also received extensive SMARTBoard training as part of the grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. As a special treat, our own social studies department member, Jeff Bergstrom presented and did an outstanding job.

Nine social studies staff members attended the MoodleMoot Conference in Sun Praire. The staff included: Glenn Olstad, Travis Greil, Michele Vinje, Christian Ammon, Nancy Gajewski, Jeff Bergstrom, Chad Thompson, Kate Wollersheim and myself. Kate is the newly hired middle school social studies teacher. The staff learned that Moodle had been upgraded and were excited about one of the features for adding assignments into Moodle. Cory Jaeger, the head of technology recently upgraded the D.C. Everest Moodle site to version 2.3 which will be really helpful. Staff learned that Moodle can be used for much more than simply storing assignments. We will be using the journal and forum features as well as the quiz feature.Here are some Moodle sites started last year to check out: (Go in as guest)   American Seminar  APUSH  Early 20th Century  Recent America  Social Studies Alt. 10   Social Studies Alt. 11  U.S. History Class.

Literacy Initiative Brings Non-Fiction History and Historical Novels to the 6-12 Social Studies Classroom

Since 2009 each grade level PLC has selected historical fiction novels and non-fiction history texts to increase students literacy opportunities in the social studies classroom.  Mike Schmoker (Focus: Elevating the Essentials) states that "we don't appreciate deeply enough the outsize value of social studies. If we did, we would do more to preserve its soul: literacy, analysis, and argument." The High School Advanced Placement classrooms are in their third year of summer reading offering 8 titles about the American Revolution including 1776 and Rise to Rebellion.  American History Seminar incorporates a book into its oral history unit and students have read War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust and will read Unbroken this year.  AP World History reads An Edible History of Humanity while AP European History reads A World Lit Only by Fire.  Global Studies students will be exposed to graphic novels Waltzing with Bashir and Shenzhen.  Alternative Social Studies is considering reading a novel about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.   At the Junior High 9th graders in the honors classes read Summer of 1787 and will be reading the economics text The Invisible Heart during second semester.  A graphic novel on the Constitution is also being considered.  8th grade teachers were leaders in promoting the reading of fiction and non-fiction.  In 8th grade U.S. History students in the honors sections have read Eyes on the Prize, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and this year will be reading Unbroken, a non fiction book on WWII.   Regular education students read Woodsrunner, Night John, Copper Sun, The Devil’s Paintbox and do literature circles with a variety of Civil War novels. The Reading Specialist, Ann Hoesly has helped teachers choose books. Middle School student in World Studies read The Enemy Has a Face and The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana & Mali.   More books will be selected this year in 6th grade Ancient Civilization. The IMC Librarian Beth Martin has provide the social studies staff with a variety of topic books which are used for Inquiry projects.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Friday, August 17, 2012

6-12 Social Studies Department Goals 2012-13

1.  Authentic Literacy (Reading , Discussion & Writing)

·         Strategic (Close) Reading strategies
·         Interactive reading strategies
·         Argumentative discussion strategies
·         Different approaches to increase student oral proficiencies in classes through discussion, deliberation, Socratic dialog and others.
·         Writing in social studies classroom
·         A coordinated approach to expository writing
Each PLC grades 6-12 will identify one or more historical fiction or non-fiction book to be read and discussed in class.
Each PLC will identify one common writing piece per quarter. This will include a minimum of two or more DBQ’s per year depending upon the grade level.
Each PLC will experiment with different formats to challenge student thinking through academic conversation (discussion).
Teachers may earn up to 4 hours of in-service through book study using Academic Conversations, by Jeff Zweirs

2.  Authentic Instruction in the Social Studies Classroom

Authentic Instruction is defined by Dr. Fred Neuman (UW- Madison) as contain one or more of the following components:
·         Higher Order Thinking ( activity stimulates critical thinking)
·         Has significant depth of knowledge (encourages comprehensive learning)
·         Has real world connections ( teaches application of concepts)
·         Has Substantive Conversation( engages students in discussion)
·         Includes Social Support ( provides support and inclusion)
Authentic Learning may include:

·         Oral history projects
·         History Day Program
·         Roman/Greek Day Program
·         We the People Mock Congressional Hearings
·         Crime Lab simulations, interactive autopsy, etc.
·         Psychology Case Studies/Experiments
·         Civil War Day
·         Simulated Mock Trials
·         Independent study class (as discussed by James Percocco) which might involve the Marathon County Historical Museum, Marathon County Civil War Round Table, Marathon County Genealogical Society, Portage County Historical Society, Pomeranian German Society, VFWs. Other possibilities include independent study in Sociology or Psychology.
·         Archeological digs
·         Virtual Field Trips via CILC (using distance learning lab)
·         Other PBL (Project Based Learning) Programs
3.  Technology Innovations in the Social Studies Classroom
·         Advanced level use of the smartboard technology. E.g.  Creation of smartboard lessons, use of clicker response systems and the document camera.
·         Use of web-based interactive simulations
·         Using MOODLE as both a repository for videos, handouts, quizlets, podcasts, powerpoints, etc., but also as an interactive tool for forums, chats, journaling, blogging, etc.
·         Using Web 2.0 tools for student creation of products to exhibit learning.  E.g. socrative, Qwiki, Edmodo, Animoto, Prezi, etc.
·         Use of the distance learning lab for virtual field trips and for collaborating with authors and experts in distance locations.
·         Consider flipping lessons in your classroom. Implementing some of aspects of the Flipped Classroom.
·         Remember, technology is just a tool to deliver learning and can used effectively for formative assessment.
4.    Assessment in the Social Studies Classroom
·         Emphasis this year will be on improving and increasing the use of formative assessment in the classroom.
·         Increase the use of formative assessment through the use of technology (smartboard clicker system, Moodle testing, etc.
·         Improvement in grading system used in the social studies classroom.  Some teachers will continue to experiment with standards based grading, while others will move to a 4 point grading scare.  Toxic practices like using zero’s, over grading of homework, too much extra credit, etc. will be eliminated.
·         PLC conversations should focus more on student learning whether it is about informal observations of student learning or more specific test data.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Standards Based Grading in Psychology

 Two of our Psychology teachers, Bree Sandquist and Glenn Olstad experimented with standards based grading. They used a 4-3-2-1-0 grading system.

A 1 grade means the student can recognize the concept but can't define it or apply it to the real world.

A 2 grade means the student has the ability to define and recognize the learning target. The person in the real world could listen to a newscast and understand what is going on.

A 3 means the student can not only define and recognize the learning target, but is also able to apply the knowledge or skill.  This person would be able to listen to the newscast and not only understand it but be able to discuss it at the local coffee house.

A 4 grade means the student can define, recognize and apply the learning target as well as teach it and critically think about it.

Data Collection - Students are given a multiple choice test. The multiple choice sections have both definition and application questions and a high level detail in application to the 4 level.  The problem in assessment came in providing enough opportunities for students to show level 4 understanding.  Can the student do the level 2 definitions. Your assessment is gathering evidence.

We have our 2-level questions.  These are usually definitions.  3-level questions ask the student to apply the definitions and the 4-level questions has the student apply the learning in a new context or has high level detail or application.

The second section of the test is constructed response or simulus response.  Students are given a word or a picture and they respond to it.  (If their response is just a definition they score a 2, if the definition also includes an application they get a 3.  Ideally they need both the definition and the application.  To receive a 4 on the construction response students shows higher amount of detail or they are applying the concept to a new area. They shows extended learning which often includes a new situation or connection.

Then the Data from these two sections is used to ascertain if the student is at a 1, 2, 3 or 4 level.

Mr. Olstad stated, "What is good about this is you actually can determine what a kid knows and can do."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crime & Justice Course Creates Interest in Forensic Investigation

Two very popular elective courses are offered to juniors and seniors at DC Everest.  The first is Crime & Justice which provides a basic introduction to the components of the criminal justice system.  The course (we completely fill 5 sections) includes units on crime and crime statistics, law enforcement, corrections, and the courts.  There is a core set of essential understandings that are included, but we also adjust the curriculum to incorporate current events.  This has included a look at the massive changes in the criminal justice system after 9/11, profiling of serial and mass murders, and the role of the media and advocacy groups in criminal justice.  We’ve had great discussions of current societal issues like gun control, sentencing (three strikes, truth in sentencing), and the death penalty.  In addition to gaining an understanding of an important social institution, students also gain competence in statistical analysis – they learn to read charts, analyze data and understand different forms of gathering and reporting statistics by utilizing the online FBI statistics sources.  These skills can be applied across all of the social sciences, but doing so in the field of crime definitely gets and keeps their attention. 

A few years ago, as interest in the criminal justice course and forensic science skyrocketed, we decided to spin off a unit on forensic investigation into a full semester course.  This course is very unique, especially since it’s based on the role of forensic science in the criminal justice arena, not so much on the scientific processes.  We review the history of forensic investigation and then look at the CSI Effect and how it has affected police and prosecutors.  It’s a very interactive course with units on observation, witnesses and the crime scene.  We also explore all of the tools and techniques of forensics investigation including fingerprinting, blood spatter, ballistics, and physical evidence like hair and fibers.  There are great tools online that really engage student learning like the CSI:The Experience forensic case files developed by Rice University and the interactive autopsy from the Australian museum.

Career investigation is included in both courses and I (John Muraski) hear from many DCE grads that have chosen to pursue a career in a criminal justice field, from law enforcement to law school.  I see many of my former students in patrol cars and am in touch with quite a few who are currently practicing attorneys in Wisconsin. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Advanced Placement Scores in Social Studies Show Continued Success!

In the 1989-90 school year Roger Dodd, the Senior High Principal, and myself attended an AP workshop at CESA 9 in Tomahawk , WI.   The presenter was Jim Bokern, a Marshfield, WI AP teacher who has subsequently become a good friend.  Both Dr. Dodd and I were sold on the concept of challenging our students with rigorous course work that would prepare them for college.  Since the 1990-91 school-year the D. C. Everest social studies AP program has grown from one section of AP U.S. History to multiple sections of seven different AP social studies and history courses that include: AP Human Geography, AP U.S. History, AP European History, AP World History, AP American Government, AP Economics, and AP Psychology.  Within social studies alone, we have grown from 23 students in 1991 to approximately 300 students taking one or more exams in 2012.

Steady growth over the past decade greatly improved our student’s chances of success in college. Students in 2012 at DCE took 341 social studies/history exams and 262 passed with a 3, 4, or 5 score.  That is a passing rate of 77%.  This passing rate is up from 55% in 2003 and 70% in 2008. This compares with a national passing rate of 55% and a state passing rate of 65%. Even though students who scored a “2” don’t get college credit, there is still a benefit for them in taking the test because they experienced a rigorous class and learn what a college exam will be like.

In 2011-12 D.C. Everest Social Studies Department began a pilot program to bring AP offerings to 9th graders at the Junior High.  Twenty-five 9th graders were selected to take AP Human Geography.  The pilot was a complete success as all 25 students passed with 3’s or better with eleven students scoring 5’s! At the Senior High AP World History was added for the first time as an elective. This new class offering was also highly successful as 23 of 25 students passed the exam (93%!). 

In 2011-12, The D.C. Everest School District was designated an AP Honor School for expanding opportunity for students and improving performance on AP scores for the second year in a row.  AP growth will continue in 2012-13 as the department will be bringing back AP Economics, and has expanded AP American Government to two sections and AP Psychology to four sect

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anchor Posters in Social Studies

Anchor charts or anchor posters are visual aids to help students remember previously studied ideas.One blog, Coaching Chronicles describes anchor posters:

Anchor Charts are artifacts of classroom learning communities. An anchor, by definition, is an object used to hold something firmly in place. Anchors are a source of stability and security. Thrown overboard, the anchor stables the boat holding it firmly in a desired location. Likewise, an Anchor Chart displayed in a classroom learning community anchors student thinking while offering a source of visual reference for continued support [scaffolding] as the learner moves forward. Classrooms with rich anchor support leave little doubt about what a student is expected to learn and offer a “public trail” of thinking, a collection of learning.

Anchor charts are best when created with students during class. (Of course, to save time, I'm making some of mine this summer and will add things to them in class). What are some things we might want to "anchor" for students in the area of social studies?

Thinking Like a Historian
Reading Thoughts
Expository Essay Format
DBQ Essay Format
Word Walls with Vocabulary Words
APUSH Test Taking Tips

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Conference

Two teachers, Nancy Gajewski and Patty Mayo (English teacher) attended a Whole Brain Teaching Conference on July 17th and 18th in Union, Missouri. They have provided us with information on Whole Brain Teaching.

I [Nancy] started researching Whole Brain Teaching after an old colleague and previous DCE teacher, Pattii Waldo recommended it. My first impression was - Wow! This stuff is strange! But the more I investigated their website, the more I liked what I saw. I liked that students were highly engaged and Chris Biffle is quite brilliant in terms of strategy when it comes to dealing with challenging students. I started watching "Coach B's" Tuesday night television broadcasts and implemented a few strategies the last month of school. The strategies worked well. Patty and I (along with 620 other teachers) attended a two day conference in Union, Missouri. Chris Biffle (founder) happened to be staying at our hotel so we asked him if we could get our picture taken with him. Here is information from the Whole Brain Teaching website.

Chris Biffles, developer of Whole Brain TeachingWhole Brain Teaching (originally called “Power Teaching”) is a highly interactive form of instruction that delivers information to students in short “chunks.” Kids then teach what they have just learned to their partners, using hand-gestures to help remember specific vocabulary. While students teach each other, the teacher walks around the room to formatively assess who understands the lesson and who needs more instruction. Research shows that children retain more information when they have an opportunity to put it into their own words and use gestures to emphasize key instructional units… plus, it’s amazingly fun! Whole Brain Teaching was developed by Chris Biffle, Philosophy professor at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, CA (San Bernadino County). Fourth grade teacher Chris Rekstad is one of the whole brain teachers who has worked a lot with Chris Biffle.

Whole Brain Teaching makes claims that students learn better because they are using many parts of their brain. They have a research section on their websites which provides some statistics about student achievement from a few school districts. The claim regarding the use of "the whole brain" may be difficult for them to prove. All I know is  know it that it gets people focused in a quick, fun and efficient manner (We were on-task 98% of the two days in Missouri) and the use of gestures provide cues for students. I found several articles about the use of gestures and learning: Students' Gestures Boost Learning Gesture Give a Hand to Language and Learning, Teachers Gestures as a Means of Scaffolding, The Role of Gestures in Learning  The Role of Gestures in Geoscience Teaching and Learning, Why Kids Need to Move

Probably the best part of Whole Brain Teaching is how much the students are talking and teaching. Whole Brain Teaching is like "Think Pair Share" on steroids. The teacher is continually walking around and formatively assessing understanding.

Here is a great site which explains the Whole Brain Teaching basic components.The blog describes the Core Four and Class Rules:
The Core 4 are, simply put, the four main things you can incorporate into your class to implement Whole Brain Teaching quickly, effectively, and with immediate results each and every day.
They are:
  1. Class-Yes
  2. The Scoreboard
  3. Mirror
  4. Teach-Okay
They are meant to:
  1. Bring the class together (Class-Yes)
  2. Keep them motivated (Scoreboard)
  3. Get them active (Mirror)
  4. Build community and be accountable for their learning (Teach-Okay)

Here is another website which contains many Whole Brain Teaching videos. The program also provides many well-thought out strategies for challenging students. A "Super Improver's Wall" is also part of the program.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

American Institutions Honors Classes Hold Mock Congressional Hearings

The Mock Congressional Hearings program comes from We The People and is implemented by the American Institutions teachers: Gus Grossklaus, Chad Thompson and Jeffrey Bergstrom.  The following comments written by Jeff Bergstrom explains the yearly program.  Parents and community are invited to watch these future leaders of America.

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is about ideas, values, and principles fundamental to understanding our constitutional democracy. The curriculum is organized around ideas that form part of the common core of civic values and concepts that are fundamental to the theory and practice of democratic citizenship in the United States.”
  • “The main goal of the program is to promote civic awareness and responsibility in students. By emphasizing student involvement and encouraging students to relate important concepts and principles to historical and contemporary situations, it strengthens student's critical thinking and public speaking skills.”
  • The We the People lessons, questions and activities are geared to focus on the analyzing, evaluating and creating levels of blooms taxonomy.
  • Each unit assessment contains 25-30 high level multiple choice question on one essay question.
  • 2011-2012 over 100 9th Grade students participated in the program
  • Community members served as judges
    • One Judge (Michael Moran)
    • Local Lawyers
    • Curriculum Coordinators
    • State We the People Coordinator
  • Students study the text “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution”
    • 6 Units of Study
    • 39 Different chapters
  • Steps to the process
    • Students read and take Cornell notes on every chapter
    • Classroom instruction focused on
      • Critical thinking skills
      • Discussions
      • Current event connections
    • One “practice” Congressional Hearing after Unit 1
      • Students placed in groups of 4-6
      • Students prepare a 4 minute opening statement
      • Students prepare answers to possible questions from judges
      • Jim Kegel (State We the People Coordinator) serves as a judge for this practice hearing
      • Students reflect on struggles and successes of practice hearing
    • One Congressional Hearing
      • Based on Unit 5 (Bill of Rights)
      • Hearing held during an evening so parents/community members can attend
      • Students placed in groups of 4-6
      • Students prepare a 4 minute opening statement
      • Students prepare answers to possible questions from judges

Social Studies Extracurriculars include a Vibrant and Successful Mock Trial Team

The 2012 Mock Trial season was a successful one for DC Everest,  and the program continues to grow with the help of the Wausau legal community (namely Greg Strasser, Robyn Kennedy, and Rick Cvyekus).  In an increasingly competitive climate Everest ran two teams at regionals with one of the teams placing second, and losing their only match to the team that took first.

The case this year dealt with a uniquely Wisconsin Northwoods issue, the problem of adverse possession in the form of two families disputing the ownership of a parcel of overgrown land.  Something like this usually only exists in areas that are sparsely populated and so most lawyers never see one of these cases in their careers.  However, given that this type of civil case can be very contentious and easily written to be balanced for both sides, it provided students with an excellent opportunity to hone their analytical and debating skills.

Greco - Roman Days Celebrated Every Year

We have always prided ourselves in creating active learning experiences in social studies. Julie Klinner, Middle School Teacher explains Greco-Roman Days.  

During the last two months of the school year, students at the  middle school are studying the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome. They are involved in research based active instruction as they prepare for their Greco-Roman day celebration. Students select a topic area of ancient Greece or Rome and conduct short research projects to answer the question: How did your topic impact or change the lives of the ancient Greeks or Romans? They use their research to write a written response to the question and reflect on how it continues to influence the modern world. 
Along with their written response to the question, students plan and create a visual product to help deepen the understanding of their topic. The visual could be in the form of a model, poster, diagram, computer project or other creative idea. Their projects create an ancient Greece and Rome "virtual museum" in the school's IMC. Students spend a class period visiting the museum and can read how Greece and Rome were similar yet very different.  

Megan Thompson, Julie Klinner, and Yauo Yang are commended for providing students with authentic history lessons!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Social Studies Staff and Extra-curricular Activities

Our Social Studies staff are involved in so many different extra-curricular activities that benefit students. One of those activities in the "Gaming Club."

D.C. Everest Gaming Club is one of the most fun and unique organizations to ever exist among our district.  We are involved in many different events, such as Evercon, and run our club to the standards of any government, with a high council, secretary, treasurer, and the vice president and president positions.  
Evercon is a gaming convention that occurs every year.  We hold gaming tournaments and other functions to raise money for many different charities and other groups.  Some of the groups we have donated to in the past consist of The Red Cross, D.C. Everest’s own Civil War Day, and other traditional charities.  One newer item that we donate the most to is the Gaming Club Scholarship Fund.  We give out a large amount of money every year to a gaming club member who has been an active participant since their days back at the Junior High.  This year, Ian Welsh, a longtime member of the club, earned the scholarship.  
Other parts of the club, such as the high council, are used to dictate club events and activities in a democratic way. The high council consists of 6 different positions: The 8th grade representative, the 9th grade representative, the secretary, treasurer, vice president, and president. The 8th grade and 9th grade representative positions are obtained in two different ways:  as an 8th grade representative, you can obtain your position by being a highly involved, responsible, respectable member.  As a 9th grade representative, you can obtain your position by running for a position such as secretary or treasurer, or even president or vice president, and not succeeding in being elected for this position.  Mr. Ammon will then designate you as a representative, or a rep (as we call it).
All of the positions that members are elected for are separated into two political parties.  The candidates for these positions can chose to join either party.  This year, our two political parties were the Dungeon Masters and the Black Rogues.  Parties are allowed to campaign with flyers and other ways to sway members into voting for them.  Near the end of the campaign, presidential and vice presidential candidates will create speeches to present to their fellow members at a designated gaming club meeting before the election.  The speeches can contain anything: What they will do for their club in this position, “smack talk” about the other candidates, or just why they want to be your president or vice president.  
Gaming Club strives to be one of the greatest organizations in our district, and will continue to do as much as we can to help our school events and local charities.
Finally, I would like to inform you about an upcoming event: The Open Gaming at Westonfest on July 21st from Noon-4:00 for “Open Gaming” with the public in our very own Tent of Wisdom!   Set up will be at 11:30 a.m.!  This is at Kennedy Park!  Invite friends!  Bring games!  Bring food and drink, but there may be food and drink available for purchase!  Furthermore, we also have events in the Junior High cafeteria from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. on August 8th & 29th.   Please enter through the lunch room doors.   
Written by: 
Bailey Hughes, 
Vice President of the D.C. Everest Gaming Club

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Social Studies Staff and Community Involvement

The D.C. Everest Social Studies staff are a group of dedicated individuals who continually provide opportunities for students and give back to the community. One example of this is Brad Seeley, a high school social studies teacher. Brad will be completing an 86 mile run in one day. He will be running the entire Mountain Bay Trail from Green Bay to Weston. He is running to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation which is trying to find a cure for Parkinson's disease. Brad is running this race to support his high school coach, Denny Holt who has Parkinson's disease. Denny taught and coached at D.C. Everest for many, many years. In 1976 I had the pleasure of starting my career at D.C. Everest with Denny Holt who became a friend and mentor as I spent my first years as a girls track coach under his tutelage. He taught me the ropes and then he moved on to the boys track team. Over the next thirty plus years I always considered him a great coach and educator. Brad was also greatly influenced by Denny.

Brad also assists his wife Caitlin each year at the Wausau Chalkfest.  Their drawings have won first place several times. This year's drawing features the well-known Rosie the Riveter propaganda poster from World War II.

Formative Assessment and Social Studies Revisited

Two years ago the the Social Studies staff  looked at formative assessment. We looked at what we considered to be Eleven Attributes of Formative Asssessment. These attributes are as follows:
1) Partnership with Students
Formative assessment involves teachers and students working together to improve student learning (and teacher instruction).
2) Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes (also called learning targets) are what the students should accomplish during the lesson. Learning outcomes make sure that the learners have a clear view of what they should achieve. 
3) Success Criteria
Students must know what the success criteria is for the learning outcome. Teachers should provide models/exemplars for students. Students should be involved  in the discussion of the success criteria.
4) Collaboration with Colleagues
Teachers collaboratively determine the power standards, essential understandings and develop assessments for the learning outcomes. Teachers collaboratively gather data and develop plans for remediation.  
5) Daily Assessment Embedded in Lesson–Formative assessment takes place on a daily basis and is a part of the daily lesson.
6) High Level Questioning/Discussions
Teachers should use questioning which goes beyond the recall and comprehension levels by using Bloom’s taxonomy. They should collaborate with colleagues to develop high level questions which will elicit intellectual discussions.
7) Teachers as Observers and Data Collectors Formative assessment involves teachers observing students on a daily basis. It also involves collecting data about students’ learning and responding to the data.
8) Data is Used to Modify Instruction 
Teachers use the data from assessments to alter their instruction (provide corrective instruction) to assist students in learning. Assessments are only considered  “formative” if the information is used to adapt teaching and learning
9) Quality Feedback to Students
Students need feedback that will help them close the gap between their work and the learning outcome. Feedback should be about the qualities of a student’s work. 
10) Students Actually Use the Feedback
Students are given time to read teacher feedback comments. Students must act upon the feedback to close the gap.
11) Student self-evaluation and peer evaluation
Students analyze either their own work or a peer’s work in relationship to the success criteria. Students self-reflect on themselves as learners. 

We compiled 55 simple strategies to formatively assess students understanding of social studies.

We have made great strides in some of these areas. For example, #4 - teachers have been able to collaborate in their PLCs to determine what should be taught. They have developed remediation plans. We still have work to do and will continue to move forward in assessing student understanding of social studies concepts.
1) Staff will focus on developing several common formative assessments to assess student learning while they are in the middle of a unit so remediation can be done well before the final summative assessment. Hopefully this way there will not be as many students to remediate after the summative assessment. 
2) Use technology for quick feedback for students. Teachers will use a variety of ways to give common formative assessments. They will use the SMART Response system (clickers), Socrative iPad app, online textbook assessments, and other technology methods.
3) Additionally, teachers will assess writing formatively by allowing students time to write in class and checking student writing along the way (e.g., checking thesis statement, checking first body paragraph, checking student use of Thinking Like a Historian in the writing, checking refuting an argument).
Teachers will be encouraged to assess learning to informally assess student learning (e.g., listening to the questions students ask during or after class, listening to pair-share and small group discussions, collecting exit passes, etc.)
James Popham (who recently spoke at the Minnetonka Institute) has a book on formative assessment entitled Transformative Assessment. The first chapter can be read online. Dylan Wiliam offers many practical ideas and great analogies in his book entitled Embedded Formative Assessment. 
 Discussion of Quick Response Systems
Using VoiceThread to pre-assess

  Using Smartboard, whiteboards, and student self-recording   TCI guy discusses informal assessment