History Atlas meets Google Earth

Nystrom, maker of maps and atlases for decades has teamed up with Google Earth to create a truly interactive experience.  Click on the link below for a sampling of Nystrom maps, atlases, charts, and outline maps-plus their innovative functions-as you explore this first-of-its-kind, web-based program!  Once immersed in StrataLogica’s interactive 3-D and 2-D learning environments, you’ll wonder how you ever taught without it.


If this is something you are interested in using please let me know and we will look into it further distrcit wide.

Click on the below link to explore the program and sign up for a free 14day trial.  ( You may need to download flash)

(After you sign in, you may be prompted to install the Google Earth plug-in. If not, please do so by clicking on the following link: http://code.google.com/apis/earth/ )


Islam and the Challenge of Modernity:

Nazareth College,Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue, Presents

Islam and the Challenge of Modernity:

Understanding the Qur’an in a Contemporary Context

November 9, 2011, 2:00 PM to 8:30 PM, Nazareth College, Otto A. Shults Community Center, Forum

1.M. Ashraf Adeel, Ph.D (2:00 PM),
Professor of Philosophy and Qur’anic studies at Kutztown University, Former Vice-Chancellor of Hazara University (Pakistan)
Topic: Qur’anic Ethics and the Challenge of Contemporary Radicalism
2.Vivienne SM Angeles, Ph.D (3:30 PM), Professor of Religious Studies at La Salle University, Past President of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies. 
Topic: Qur’an, Women, and Modernity: From the Woman’s Perspective
3.Scott Alexander, Ph.D (4:30 PM), Director of the Catholic-Muslim Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
Qur’anic Concepts of Interfaith Dialogue and Peaceful Co-Existence in a Pluralistic World

Dinner with Speakers (5:30 PM) reservation, $21 for the public & $16 for students
Email cisd@naz.edu or call (585) 389-2963 to reserve
4. Panel Presentation with Discussion (7:00 PM)
M. Ashraf Adeel, Ph.D, Vivienne SM Angeles, Ph.D, Scott Alexander, Ph.D

4th & 5th Grade Curriculum Realignment and Assessment Committee Agrees on Changes

Yesterday, the 4th and 5th Grade Curriculum Realignment and Assessment Committee met to discuss the effectiveness of the district wide 5th grade social studies exam as well as the curriculum taught in both grade levels.

All agreed that the assessment which was designed to emulate the past NY State exams did not provide the feedback required to inform instruction in an effective way. Therefore we have decided to put on hold the implementation of the 5th grade social studies exam this year.

We also analyzed the social studies curriculum maps for 4th and 5th grade and noticed that 5th grade had several more weeks of social studies instruction. We also were able to determine that Unit 1 (US Gov. Federal, State and Local), Unit 2 (Erie Canal and Industrial Revolution), and Unit 3 (European Immigration) were out of sync with the NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum Map for elementary grades. The Committee discussed the past need for these units in 5th grade while the 5th grade assessment was in place, however with the aforementioned change in thinking, the committee agreed that Units 1-3 should be shifted to the end of the 4th grade curriculum as units 6-8. This would also put us back into alignment with the NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum Map for elementary grades for this year.

Essentially 5th grade will continue teaching to the old social studies curriculum for the remainder of the academic year. 4th grade will be adding these units onto the end of this current academic year. Next year 5th grade would use the new curriculum.

The committee also asked that there be time for discussion on these two items. Please feel free to create a discussion thread below by commenting on this post or email me directly with any questions or feedback you may have. Barring a major outcry of concerns I can have the revised curriculum maps posted on the website by 10/21/2011.

The feedback that I received from the committee’s 4th ,5th grade teachers and administrators was invaluable. I thank everyone for helping us begin this conversation. We hope that these changes will provide for a more cohesive and balanced approach to social studies in the 4th and 5th grade classrooms across the district. We also hope that this new assessment direction will truly empower the teachers with feedback that will be more diagnostic.

Should we celebrate Columbus Day?

Fun debate question for the students when they come back on Tuesday.  James Lowen also has a great chapter about this in his book Lies My Teacher Told Me.  If you do not have this book and wish to borrow it, I would be happy to loan my copy.

Check out this blog post on what many schools are doing now.


The National Museum of Play at Strong Offers Great Opportunities for Social Studies Learning

I recently went on a field trip with my son who is in first grade.  I met him and his class over at the Museum of Play downtown.  His class is looking at how play has changed over the past 100 years.  It was a great social studies field trip as the students had tons of hands on experiences and very knowledgeable hosts.  And to top it all off… we had fun!  The only depressing part was finding my old Star Wars toys now being displayed in a museum.  I am getting old 😦
Feel free to click on their website for grade level lesson plans that utilize the Theory of Multiple Intelligences and adhere to the New York State Learning Standards indicated under each lesson description.  I am a huge believer in getting students out of the classroom and into hands on field visits.  Some of my greatest memories of elementary school were field visits.  If you need help with visiting local organizations please contact me and I will do all that I can to assist.
View the National Museum of Play’s School Lessons Catalog as PDF

Great Supreme Court Simulation Activity

With yesterday’s Red Mass kicking off yet another amazing Supreme Court season I though it might be appropriate to share with you an activity that is adaptable to any level of curriculum in the social studies area.  One of my favorite activities as a teacher of both US History and AP Government and Politics was an activity I called “The Supremes.”  Using some assistance from our library staff I broke the class into three groups… The Justices, and two opposing legal teams.  They researched an actual chosen case that was about to come before the Supreme Court,  they developed their arguments, responses and questions.  After about 2 days of research the students simulated a supreme court case with all the pomp and circumstance of an actual event.  The conversations and learning that occurred in this fun setting was one of the most powerful (and favorite) lessons that I ever had the honor of being part of.

If you are interested in giving it a try (several of you probably already do something similar) I would love to swing over to your class and help you set it up and give you all my materials.

This link highlights the key cases that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this year great for the simulation or just classroom discussion.

CNN:Big cases await U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011-12 term