Knowledge Maps for Social Studies

Hi all,

For students, learning about how they learn is often times a key to growth and development in school.  Knowledge maps can help students focus in on what they know, what they need to improve, and what they don’t know – and how all of this impacts assessment and how to make sense of content.  Basically a knowledge map is a learning guide for students – in a unit, based on a reading, or through an entire year. Knowledge maps are modified graphic organizers for classroom content – but they can be much more than that.  They also can serve as a checklist for teachers and students to inform instruction both in terms of content and skills.  They are a great way to track student progress using formative data, and it enables students to internalize their own strengths and weaknesses. They can address skills related to the Common Core SS, classroom content, and are a great tool for student analysis.

Based on the Greece Central SD social studies curriculum maps, these knowledge maps give the basic outline for grades 7-11 , excluding AP courses.  If any teacher would like a knowledge map for an elementary grade level, or for an AP course, please let me know and I will create one.

Listed below these links are different strategies that teachers and students can use to enhance the use of these knowledge maps.  The maps listed here are based on an entire school year, but I’ve also included a blank map that could be used for revolutions in grade 6, 9 and 10.  Any theme can fit into these maps.


7th Grade US Knowledge Map

8th Grade US Knowledge Map

Global History 9 Knowledge Map

Global History 10 Knowledge Map

US History 11 Knowledge Map

Revolutions Knowledge Map


These next links will provide both a blank student checklist, as well as a completed check list.  These are to be completed at five week intervals so discussions with students can focus on learning, growth and improvement.

Student Checklist Knowledge Map – A blank copy that teachers and students could start using right now.

Knowledge Map Student Checklist Example – Anything highlighted in green indicates mastery, yellow is meeting, and pink is need to review.

This last link is a completed knowledge map in Global History 9.  A student completed this throughout the year, summarized the work on the student checklist above, and has indicated strengths and weaknesses based on content, assessments  and skills.


Knowledge Map Completed by Student – Again, green indicates mastery of content, yellow is meeting, and pink is working towards meeting.  This student also included both formative and summative assessment grades – which serve as evidence and data – for both teacher and student.  The process becomes very fluid throughout the year.


1.  Knowledge Map Completion – The purpose of this is to have students who are just being introduced to knowledge maps to organize and practice the lesson for one class period by completing a partially filled knowledge map.  Progression to a completely blank map, or even to having student create and knowledge map template could work.  The revolutions knowledge map above could be used for a lesson on any revolution in global history.

2.  Building Knowledge Maps – Once students get the basics of knowledge maps, have them generate maps based on content and skills.  This could occur over a lesson, through a non-fiction reading activity, or through an entire unit.

3.  Note-Taking Knowledge Mapping – Provide students with a blank knowledge map for the lesson or unit.  The map will help students organize information presented, worked on, shared or discussed through the lesson or unit.  Some students will be very challenged by this, so it’s a great way to incorporate differentiation or groupings of students so they can assist each other.

4.  Knowledge Map Essay – The knowledge map serves as the outline for a thematic essay.  Again, the revolutions example above could serve this purpose for the different revolutions that are focused on in Global History 9 and 10.

5.  Knowledge Maps and Common Core – Student can complete different reading and writing activities, grounded in non-fiction and primary source material through knowledge maps.  For example, student could use a knowledge map to summarize President Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided.”  There are many different uses here.

Hope this helps…please let me know if you have questions.  The next post will focus on Common Core examples and Knowledge Maps.


Khan Academy in the Classroom

Hi all,

The Khan Academy – an online learning classroom – is a great resource for supplemental mini-lessons in our own classrooms.  Salman Khan is the founder of the Khan Academy, which is a website dedicated to a new, accessible style of learning and education.  To date, there are more than 3,400 short videos that follow Khan through easy to understand summaries of major trends, concepts and topics in lots of subjects.

The best part about The Khan Academy is that you can sign up as a teacher, have students join your “class” and track data for students as they take quizzes and join in on discussions.

There are over 10 million people that have accessed The Khan Academy.  History (social studies) is not the prominent subject provided, but there are some good summary lessons that are provided.  You can access videos and lessons by clicking on “watch”, then going to “humanities.”

If you teach economics, there are also some great lessons related to major concepts and models in both microeconomics and macroeconomics.  Some of the material relates very well to NYS standards and what we teach, while others do not connect as well.

Thes lessons are primarily for high school students.

For users of smartphones, there is also a Khan Academy app.

Click here to visit the webpage:  The Khan Academy

That’s it for now…


Mankind: The Story of All of Us

Mankind: The Story of All of Us

The History Channel has followed up “America: The Story of Us”, with “Mankind: The Story of All of Us.”  The first episode of 12 aired on November 13th, 9-11pm.  Each episode will be aired on Tuesday, starting at 9pm.

The series chronicles mankind, from the beginnings in Eastern Africa, all the way to modern times.  The first episode was entitled “Inventors” and outlined how humans created new technologies in order to survive and advance civilizations.  Some of the “inventions” included fire, farming, bronze, iron, democracy, writing systems, trade and war.

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This could be a great supplemental resource for 6th, 9th and 10th grade classrooms, and there are many different resources teachers could use from the History Channel website.  There are 2-3 minute video clips, and a Mankind classroom teacher guide.

Click here to explore more related to Mankind: The Story of All of Us




CIA Academy Begins November 28th

The CIA Academy, a unique partnership between the Greece Central School District and the Greece Police Department, will begin on November 28th, 2012. This is the first of 10 meetings between students in Greece, and Police Officers in the GPD. Students will learn, many times through hands-on experiences, the many different roles of the Police Department in Greece, NY. The first meeting centers on introductions and the Police Department as an organization. Officer Jim Leary has taken the lead again in partnering with district administrators and classroom teachers.

30 students from Arcadia, Olympia, Odyssey and Athena were selected to participate. The activities range from learning about different divisions in the GPD (Patrol, DWI Enforcement, Firearms safety, Criminal Investigations Division, etc.) to experiences at the Greece Town Hall, and Animal Services, among many others. More detailed information is included in the CIA Academy Schedule below.

Click on the documents below for more information, and as always, please email me at with any questions.


CIA Academy Schedule, 2012-13 School Year – A detailed schedule for teachers and students that includes the dates, times, and topics of the ten meetings – as well as Graduation Day. Look here if you have questions about when and where to attend.

An Overview of the CIA Academy in Greece CSD – This document summarizes the CIA Academy in Greece.


That’s it for now…


“Lincoln” – A Learning Opportunity for Students and Staff

“Lincoln”, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by Steven Spielberg, opens November 16th in Rochester.  The movie focuses on some of the major decisions that President Abraham Lincoln was faced with during his time in office, but specifically focuses on the months leading to the end of the US Civil War.  The movie has been rated PG-13, so many students could attend with family and friends.

Here is a summary of the movie from

“Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.”


Lincoln – Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Directed by Steven Spielberg


If you wish to learn more about the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, either before or after viewing the film, consider the following books:

A Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America, by Harold Holzer

Lincoln: A Cinematic and Historical Companion, forwards by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy

Lincoln: A President for the Ages.  Essays from leading writers and scholars.  Edited by Karl Weber

Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, by James L. Swanson



November Madness a Huge Success

THANK YOU to all that helped with November Madness.  It was a tremendous success and a great night for student engagement and learning.  Students from all four high schools in Greece interacted throughout the night with each other, with teachers, with building and district administrators, and side by side with school board members.  About 100 students engaged in authentic debates, predictions, and analysis of the election, the Electoral College, and politics in general.  Below are a few of the pictures that captured different parts of the evening.

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Updated Resources – Check Them Out

Social Studies Crew and Others,

Please check out the links to the right – there is a lot of information based on the topics listed.  Graphic organizers, articles, videos, and teacher and student resources for elementary and secondary levels.  If you have things you’d like highlighted or included for others to view and use, please email them to me at  

I will begin to create a bank of resources and ideas from teachers in Greece, for teachers in Greece.

Election day is tomorrow, November 6th.  For 11th and 12th graders (US History, CIA and AP Gov students), all are welcome to attend our November Madness event at the Arcadia Library from 7-10pm.  Information is below in the post entitled “November Madness Resources.”

Thanks…Have a good week.