Welcome to the Summer 2024 Semester

Welcome!! I am excited to be working with you during this summer semester.

This blog will serve as a place to access assignment guidelines and course readings, share current news of interest, and further reflect on what it means to teach social studies using pedagogical approaches that encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity.

Use the menu to navigate to course resources.

  • Hover over Assignments in the menu to find guidelines for the work of the semester.
  • Click on Readings in the menu to find the readings and videos for each in-person and self-study session.
  • Click on Google Slides to find the slides for each in-person and self-study session.

Teaching Economics in Elementary

Hello Fellow Classmates,

As I write this blog post, I have to admit even though I enjoy math, studying economics is not the most exciting topic to me but after our class on Tuesday, I now see how wrong I was! I never imagined that our economics lesson would include reading diary entries and studying artwork. I liked that we began the class with a turn-and-talk on the core economic principles, then moved into the decision making model and important ideas including key vocabulary to provide to students. This class helped me to understand the importance of preparing an interactive lesson and providing students with an opportunity to experience economics in different ways. Such as Dr. Bland telling us about a grocery shopping experience with her daughter when she was learning about opportunity cost in school.  Throughout history we see the importance of economics and our students will need to know these principles to function as good citizens.  As we saw in class, economics touches all parts of our lives, so we have to ensure our students are getting the foundation needed to reach their full potential. It seems we are now moving to a more cashless system for buying and selling goods. How do you think this will affect our society and how do we prepare our students for this? Here’s an interactive link from PBS kids that may be helpful with economic learning:  Cyberchase . Topics . Money | PBS KIDS

Our activity of reviewing primary source documents of Ephraim Coleman, an ordinary 68-year-old man who kept a diary was fun and comparing different sections of the diary to get insight into his daily life over the period of a year was interesting.  This is another great way to have students look for economic principles in everyday life.  I especially liked utilizing the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to help with researching an important person in American history, although I did find it hard to think of just questions without stopping to discuss, so I was tapped once 😊 by Dr. Bland. I would never think to teach a history lesson in this manner, it was an “aha” moment for me. At the beginning of the semester, I really saw history as just facts and figures to learn, which is how I was taught history in school. We did not have any interactive activities to make history exploratory, exciting, and wanting to dive deeper to learn more. I don’t remember hearing about economics until high school and it wasn’t a study of it, but essentially just a definition to learn so this has been eye-opening to me. In our slides for this week’s class, Drs. Stohr and Bland have provided great links on teaching economics in elementary education. One in particular, the Virginia Council on Economic Education, provides entire lesson plans for interactive teaching of economics to elementary students. I reviewed a few of them and will keep as a resource for lesson planning. I now understand how important it is to start economic education early. Here’s a couple of links I hope will help you regarding this: yl_220304.pdf (socialstudies.org)Economics For Kids And Teenagers | PBS LearningMedia

So, my final questions are: for this week’s class, did you have an “aha” moment? If so what was it? Also, do you remember when you were taught about economics in school? What was your experience? Any other thoughts on this session? It really was a lot of fun with economics and it is always so helpful to me to hear your thoughts; I get a better perspective on what we’ve learned. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thanks, Tera

Do Maps Tell Us Stories About Places and Spaces?

Hi everyone!

This week’s class session on the importance of geography was truly enlightening for me. Prior to last night, when I thought of the term “geography”, the environment and land structures was all that came to mind. However, now I know that geography encompasses much more than that. It allows for us to study the connections between people, places, and their surroundings.

We also had the privilege of taking an in-depth look at John Smith’s Map and having the opportunity to create our own. Our introduction world map activity was significantly eye-opening for me. It brought to my attention the glaring fact that I have lost a majority of geographical knowledge over the years. Did you have a similar experience?

Personally, I recall using selective maps throughout my elementary instruction, but I struggle to remember what specific lessons they were utilized for. Therefore, my questions for you are: were maps included in your K-12 experience? Did your thoughts on the importance of maps evolve throughout our class session? Lastly, what do you think are the most engaging ways to include maps in lessons across all subjects?

I also attached a link that provides some great resources discussing activities that involve maps: https://serc.carleton.edu/k12/maps.html

I am looking forward to hearing your responses!

-Mimi Bainbridge

Getting The Most Out of School Trips

Hello Class! 

After our trip on the walking tour, I was filled with many ideas on what to create my blog post on. I kept coming back to an idea I shared during dinner about going on field trips as a young student, but never learning as much as I did on our visit. I have lived in the Richmond Area for most of my life and did not know most of the information shared on our trip. After leaving our field trip, I had learned more about the city I live closest to than ever before.

My question is how do we make field trips impactful for students? How or what can we do to design field trips that leave students feeling engaged, interested, and educated on the subject of the trip? 

Here are a couple of links on the benefits of field trips and how to optimize a trip:

National Education Association: https://www.neamb.com/work-life/how-field-trips-boost-students-lifelong-success#:~:text=%E2%80%9CToday’s%20students%20are%20visual%20learners,to%20worlds%20outside%20their%20own.%E2%80%9D

Education Week: https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-response-field-trips-are-powerful-learning-experiences/2016/12

These sites provide some insight into the importance of field trips and ways in which to increase the benefits of these field trips. But what can we do to make their field trip as impactful as our walking tour? How can we as educators get students intrigued by the location of the field trip and the content surrounding said trip? What are some options for making sure that students stay engaged throughout the trip? 

I’m excited to see your responses! Thanks! 

– Emma Holcombe

Teaching Hard History

Hi everyone!

Today’s class session has definitely got me thinking more about how to go about teaching hard history in my own future classroom. Honestly, teaching history has been the topic I am most worried about teaching my future students, as I do not feel that my own history lessons were adequate growing up. I am feeling much more prepared to tackle these topics, especially in K-2 classrooms. The quiz we took at the beginning of class was a wake up call to how much I did NOT learn in school when I was younger.

I found another excellent resource that has more focus on lessons discussing slavery for younger students: https://www.learningforjustice.org/frameworks/teaching-hard-history/american-slavery/k-5-framework

However, the question I am still stuck on is how to teach hard history if you are working in a state or school district that either wants you to not tell the whole truth, such as only focusing on the ‘good’ parts, or does not incorporate it in the younger grade curriculum at all?  What if your personal beliefs on what you should be teaching about hard history topics do not align with the curriculum of the school you work in?

My second question is, what other hard history topics are there that we should be teaching about? I would like to hear from fellow classmates as to what topics you believe will be challenging to teach.

Our class session yesterday was extremely informative, but I still feel like I have a long way to go to further educate myself on the topic of slavery, especially in Virginia. As future teachers, how should we go about getting this further education, specifically focusing on delving deeper into topics? What should we be expected to do to learn more about a topic? I feel like there is so much to know and understand about history and I want to make sure that I can teach my future students the truth and avoid the seven key problems that we spoke about in class when it comes to teaching slavery in America.

Thank you for reading! I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s responses. I hope everyone learned something new today like I did! I also hope that we can continue these hard and difficult conversations throughout the remainder of our class, because they are extremely valuable and needed.




Teaching and Tackling Hard History

Hello everyone!

After this class, I definitely feel more prepared to take on hard history! However, there are still a lot of things to think about before creating those interesting lesson plans. My blog post will not be filled with a lot of resources and links (we got a great selection during class today!), but it will have plenty of questions!

My first question, is what are your initial thoughts and ideas on integrating diverse perspectives into instruction when teaching hard history? At the beginning of his thoughts today, Dr. Ayers emphasized starting your teaching with the undeniable facts and working outwards towards more complex understandings. What do you think about this idea? Would you use anecdotes, examples, and imaginings to humanize and contextualize? Would you focus on setting history in motion? How would you emphasize the complexities of the practice of slavery? Let me know!

There’s also the question (aka elephant in the room) of statistics. Most people dread the idea of memorizing a list of statistics and numbers. However, what if there’s a different way to view using statistics in the classroom? Making patterns, connections, and building historical empathy are all parts of the world of statistics. How would you integrate statistics and data literacy in your classroom without being overwhelming and ineffective? Visualization? Personal connections? I’m curious!

I hope you guys learned something new today!


Types of Assessments: Which is Best?

Good afternoon class!

I loved that we got to listen to Ms. Creech at the beginning of class and that she was so kind to come to visit us on campus. Afterward, we covered different types of assessments and that’s when my brain really got thinking. I was fascinated by all the different ways in which students can be assessed because, for the majority of my high school experience, I was assessed via group projects or multiple choice/matching tests. The only time I experienced variance of assessment was for my AP 2D Design class where we had to create a portfolio to turn in to College Board.

Because I had only experienced a portfolio-style assessment once in my life, I was most intrigued by it. Here are some resources I looked through in order to become more familiar with the topic:

a. The Purpose of Building a Portfolio Assessment (thoughtco.com)

b. 17.7: How can portfolios be used for assessment? – Social Sci LibreTexts

c. Student Portfolios as an Assessment Tool | Education World

Some key points I gathered from these sources were:

  1. Portfolio assessments are very subjective in nature. Even if the teacher utilizes a rubric, the individualized nature of a portfolio makes it difficult to remain objective and stick to the rubric. In order to avoid this, teachers need to make sure they are checking their biases and getting second opinions if needed. – link a
  2. There are showcase portfolios (ones that “display the candidate’s depth of knowledge and is a compilation of successfully completed work” (King 2008)) and formative portfolios (“illustrates a student’s learning processes over time and demonstrates growth” (King 2008)). – link b
  3. It also is important that you allow students a choice what is placed in their portfolios. You might have a few specific pieces you require, but permit students to include two or three pieces of their own choosing. – link c

Not only did these different assessments make me reflect on my own experiences, but they also made me think about which techniques would be best for me to use in my classroom. Given what we have learned in class, which type of assessment do you see yourself using? Why? Would you change assessment types based on the subject you’d teach? How many different assessment types do you see yourself using at any given time? Which techniques can you not see yourself using? Why?

I look forward to reading your responses!

Warmest Regards,

Carstyn K

Our Trip to the Valentine

We loved sharing this experience with you!

Consider searching The Valentine’s online collections database as you work on your multigenre project. The museum’s collection includes 1.6 million objects related to Richmond history.

You can find helpful tips for searching the database in this downloadable PDF.

One other resource related to the museum I’d like to point you to is the online exhibit A History of Richmond in 50 Objects.

Including Out-of-Classroom Experiences into Teaching

Hi Class!

I’m not sure about you all, but I have so many thoughts about our trip to the Valentine Museum yesterday! I absolutely loved how the museum was set up by themes rather than a timeline. This made me feel like I was able to fully explore all the different depths of history rather than memorize a timeline of past historical events.

At the end of class, I shared about how one of the artifacts that stood out to me was the rolling pin that was used during the Civil War to break into stores and steal food. This was due to inflation, which made it difficult for people to afford food at higher prices. I was struck by the thought of hundreds of people breaking into stores, using everyday items to smash windows and steal food for survival. I wondered about how a simple object like that was such a huge part of history, and I would not have known about it if we wouldn’t have gone to the museum. I want to know more about the artifacts that intrigued you most! What were they, and is there one thing in the museum you wish you could have gotten to observe more?

I also started to think about how I would incorporate something like this experience into my own teaching and why it is important for students to have their own experience with historical exhibits like the ones we saw together. I would love to take my students on a field trip to a museum in order for them to experience history from a different perspective. When students are given the opportunity to leave the classroom, they are excited about a new “adventure” and will be more engaged in what they are observing. Students will also have an opportunity to become more familiar with physical, primary sources that allow for a different type of learning. I can definitely relate to this because I feel more connected through experiences and visuals than I do through reading textbooks. That being said, I plan on trying to incorporate at least one field trip devoted to history into my school year.


Above is a website that lists different strategies to get students actively involved while at a museum. Some of the strategies are too old for elementary school ages, however, many of them are adaptable to use in grades K-5 with guidance from chaperones, teachers, and adults working in the museums. I was intrigued by the idea of having groups of students go on a guided scavenger hunt throughout a museum. This would allow students to think of the trip in a more adventurous way while still learning about important historical events. They most likely won’t even realize they are learning! What strategies do you see yourself using if you were to take your class on a field trip to a museum?

I look forward to reading your responses!


Detailed Lesson Planning: Effective or not? Should teachers be required to turn their plans in for approval?

Hello Class! 

This week’s class session was both informative and interesting. I’m not sure about all of you, but I thought watching a teacher conduct a lesson was extremely helpful as it provided me with various ideas and strategies. Adapting a complete lesson plan helped me to better understand how to utilize the most efficient resources and apply my time management skills to my lessons. 

Through my additional research, I learned that many administrators and principals require teachers to turn in their lesson plans to be reviewed. Furthermore, there has been much controversy over whether or not lesson plans are even effective or necessary. Whereas some teachers create step-by-step daily lesson plans, other teachers refrain from planning a detailed lesson and instead think on the spot. Many professionals believe that teachers who write up detailed lesson plans, instead of jotting down notes and briefly planning, are failing to focus on the big picture of the content they’re teaching. 

I have linked articles for you all to explore: 

1) How to move out of the day-by-day lesson planning trap and think big picture https://truthforteachers.com/truth-for-teachers-podcast/day-by-day-lesson-planning-trap/

2) It’s Time to Stop Requiring Lesson Plan Submission https://www.weareteachers.com/stop-requiring-lesson-plans/

3) Why Lesson Plan?

What do you think? I want to hear how effective you think lesson plans are and if you believe teachers should be required to turn them in for approval or not. Do you envision yourself making a detailed lesson plan for each lesson you teach, or do you think that’s unrealistic? Are principles too focused on the lesson plan write up instead of the ways in which teachers actually teach the content? 

I’m certainly torn about these ideas and I’m really looking forward to hearing everyone’s perspectives! 

-Christina Caluori