Tag Archives: social studies

Pike Place Market

Traveling to conferences often allows attendees the opportunity to explore new places.  National Council for the Social Studies moves their conference each year to a different part of the country allowing social studies teachers to learn geography as well as history, civics, economics and all the social studies.  In Seattle I ate in some top Diners and Dives restaurants, rode to the top of the Space Needle, got lost in downtown several times, and best of all, went to the Pike Place Market.

Outside the market you needed an umbrella, which I had left at the top of the Space Needle the night before, but inside, the weather was perfect.  I hadn’t carried my Canon in the rain, so these pictures all came from my iPhone.

Since we had just eaten lunch, the flowers attracted us at first.  Bouquets ranged from $5 – $15.  This one was $10, I think.  We wondered how they sustained themselves, but would have bought at least one bouquet if we weren’t going on the plane hours later.

Honey Crisp apple grown in Washington

Free samples abounded, and these Honey Crisp apples were sweet and crunchy, just the way I like apples.  All the varieties of apples came from Washington, but other fruits and vegetables came from all over.  One item we asked about came from Delano, just south of us in Kern County, California.


Although fruits and vegetables provided the most color, while fish throwing attracted the biggest followers.  I tried to capture the fish in motion, but clicking at exactly the right time challenged me.

We saw lots of fish eyes, oozy clams, live oysters, and tasted smoked salmon jerky at $39 + a pound.

Razor clams oozing out of their shells brushed with sand.
Mary advocates for purchasing sustainable fish, and organic vegetables.

After the fish festival, Mary wanted to experience the shoe museum which meant a pay a quarter, peek through a lit window for about a minute, and have your picture taken outside the painted window display.

Robert Wadlow’s size 37AA shoe
Come one. Come all. Step right up, and put your quarters in. These shoes will astound you.

You can buy anything you might need at this outdoor market, and people come from around the world to do so.  How does this compare to markets in your city or town?  Did you like it?



Sunday Post: People


Ok, this post is for Jake.  I hope I will get his dragon posted in correctly so you can see his amazing 3D people.  My people are doing similar things, but they are flat, and a wee bit older (or at least some of them are!! – not mentioning any names!)


We were at a not-so-boring California Council for the Social Studies Board meeting.  Just when things might have gotten dull, our President, Brent Heath, enlivened us with the help of his wife.

break dancing – I mean dancing during the break.
Meeting energized



David Copperfield and the Common Core

A new blogging friend, Sharechair, blogged about a great Amazon offer of free audible books.  I rushed to Amazon and downloaded about ten of them.  The first one I listened to was David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, narrated by Simon Vance.

Vance transports you to 1850s England in a time before cell phones, cars, planes, or any kind of easy communication that we have today.  The wonderful fiction becomes a window to the world in that time period through the characters. and the descriptions.  If you are studying this period of history, David Copperfield,in my opinion, becomes a primary source.

I hope that English teachers across America are hearing this.  With the coming of Common Core, literature, as such, is deemphasized, and informational text is taking the forefront.  This will affect the high school English Language Arts class more than any other because by high school students will be required do 70% of their daily reading in informational texts including primary sources.  For teachers who love to teach only literature, there is a low outcry.  For those of us who teach history, there won’t be too much change.  History students have to read.  Now it will count as part of the day – reading informational texts, but history (and science) teachers can’t do it all even if they give 100% of their time to reading.  English teachers will still need to spend about 50% of their time in informational text.

As I understand primary sources, they are the fountain of information that historians use to discover the past – to “do” history.  As a “document”, David Copperfield, is a primary source because it is not “about” the past, it IS the past.  Written in 1849-1850 in a series of articles, David Copperfield enables the reader to unravel the past.  The reader experiences the language of the time, the overly polite way that English people conversed tinged with dry humor and a touch of sarcasm.  Through the book the reader  can observe the life of the middle or working class, and understand how desperate life was before there were social safety nets.  They can learn about child labor, and why laws were written to protect the young.  They also learn about the limitations that women, particularly young women, endured, and how women learned to navigate the waters to provide form themselves and their children.  They can view a time before compulsory education.  The book traverses the world.  Several of the characters emigrate to Australia, then still a colony of England.  There they find freedom and financial success. Students should use their map and math skills to realize the magnitude of that move.

This is my argument for using this piece of literature as a primary source, an informational text, if you will.  In order to do this effectively, however, I would also argue that the English teacher needs to partner with the Social Studies teacher in order to teach students how to dig the historical nuggets from the “informational document” rather than merely concentrating on the wonderful story line.  Reading David Copperfield as an informational text has a different purpose, and must be read differently.  The students are now on a quest to discover what life was like in mid 19th century England – and the world.  They need to corroborate the information they glean from reading the period fiction with other non-fiction sources that authenticate the information they read in Dickens’ work.

When reading informational texts, students need to read closely.  They can do a quick read for enjoyment of literature. For a typical language arts class they might read this fiction more  closely to pick the characters apart.  They might look at the way Dickens used words to describe characters, setting, and make an emotional appeal, but rarely do they go beyond that to look at the kinds of employment the characters have.  They probably wouldn’t ask, “What does that employment allow them to do?”  A language arts lesson might point out the social conditions in passing, but the historian might research the various types of employment that were available to men and women of the time.  What were the educational requirements for the choices they had?  Which careers were the most profitable?  Why were the characters who were unsuccessful in England, successful in Australia?  This book is all about economics and geography.

Looking at the Historical Analysis Skills listed in the Framework and in the Common Core Implementation Toolkit that I wrote in conjunction with other history-social studies consultants in California will help the language arts teacher use classics like David Copperfield as a primary source document by asking the analytical historical questions to help students uncover the past.  Or better yet, English teachers could collaborate local history-social studies teacher to plan what literature might help their students understand the time and places they study.

My final argument is that taking literature out of the curriculum for students is not going to help students any more than taking history out of the curriculum.  Students need to learn how to think critically and analyze facts.  Using literature as a primary source is one way to keep both fields viable, and teach students to think for themselves.



Common Core FAQs Relative to History-Social Studies

Today our San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies had their big planning meeting.  One thing that came out of that was the need for a one page FAQ sheet for the Common Core Standards for Social Studies teachers in particular – to quell their fears of the unknown.  This is all I got done this afternoon.  See what you think of it, and tell me what else you thing should be on it.KNOWN ASSESSMENT FAQs

• Common Core Assessments for ELA and Mathematics begin field testing in spring 2014.
• Common Core Assessments for ELA and Mathematics begin testing in spring 2015.
• There will be History-Social Studies reading and writing tasks included in the test for language arts.
• These assessment tasks will NOT be aligned to the California History Standards, but the reading complexity, or lexile levels, will be appropriate for the grade level of the student.
• The CST for ELA, mathematics, history-social science, and science will be given until 2014 when it will sunset.
• There are sample test items on both the Smarter Balanced and the PARC websites.

• We don’t know what will replace the CST tests for History-Social Science and Science

• We know a consortium has been working on Common State Standards for History-Social Studies.
• We know the standards will be presented at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference, November 16-18 in Seattle, WA
• We know that the one of the primary developers will present these standards at the California Council for the Social Studies, March 6-8, 2013 in Burlingame, CACome and join us if your on the left coast this year.  We are going to have a major Common Core Conference within our regular California Council for the Social Studies Conference – 8 hours of intensive training in the Common Core Standards and how they pertain to teams of History-Social Studies/English Language Arts teachers.

Here is a FAQ sheet from Sacramento County Office of Education  http://www.scoe.net/castandards/multimedia/common_core_faq.pdf

The Source, Journal of the California History Project which published an article of mine. http://www.ccss.org/Resources/Documents/CommonCore_Source.pdf

“Preparing Students for College, Career and CITIZENSHIP:
A California Guide to Align Civic Education and the Common Core State
Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies,
Science and Technical Subjects”, a white paper by Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education —http://www.ccss.org/Resources/Documents/Herczog-CCSSNCSS%20Journal%20Article%20for%20Matrix.pdf

Photo Phailures

I take hundreds of pictures, yet I am not a photographer.  I am a documentarian.  My dad, who was a photographer was constantly taking what he called “record” shots.  They were basically the name of where he took the pictures, or to record that an event took place (ie Christmas, 1967 when it drifted 10 feet).  Just making that up the date BTW, I have the “record shot”.

I take unusually bad record shots of events.   California Council for the Social Studies held last year’s Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Orange County.  I took this picture with my iPhone.  I expected better pictures out of it since it is an i4 rather than an i3.   But I not only got grainy, but yellow.  I don’t have a solution for that photo phailure.

I thought I could do better with my Canon EOS Revel XTi, and I did, but… so disappointing. The picture was BLURRY and still a weird color.  Fortunately while I was at National History Day, California, I was taking pictures of students.  I told them that I would post them if they weren’t too blurry.  I have lasik bifocals.  One eye is for distance, and the other is for up close.  Unfortunately when I look through my camera, I use my distance eye, and everything is blurry.  So are my pictures!  Or they WERE blurry.

One of the students stopped me and told me to just turn on the AF button.  (As if I KNEW what AF meant.)  It meant AUTOMATIC FOCUS.  duh!  I hate when that happens.  So after he showed me the button, my Canon pictures improved.  My eyesight is still problematic, but I’m ok with that.  BTW please excuse this picture for being bad.  I took it with my iPhone, and up close.   I think it is pretty good, considering.

Lighting posed the next problem.   When I was a kid my dad was always f-stopping me to death, so I quit listening.  I think f-stops have something to do with lighting, and the speed of the shutter, and how much light comes in.  Now MY Canon does it all, and if I set it on the green square, my understanding WAS/IS that everything was good to go.  No skills, brains, or anything else needed.  I think maybe I might be mistaken about that.

So with my lighting ears shut, my pictures lack luster.  My normally boring phailures  were augmented by their dullness brought on by inside lighting.

You can see in this photo of an unusually bright class of social studies teachers.  The camera ruined them, and made the class look dark and dingy.

Lucky for me I broke my camera lens, and had to get a new one because the man at the camera shop showed me another lovely button that has changed my life.

TA-DA!!!!  The WB button allows you to tell the camera what the lighting is where you are taking the picture.  Now why this all-knowing camera doesn’t already SENSE that is beyond me, but for some reason it doesn’t.  So this WB button helps it out by letting you chose the White balance (which in lay terms means lighting) setting.  You have choices of shade, cloudy, tungsten, or white fluorescent, flash, or custom. (Whatever that is.)  I just know that if I am I am in the Hyatt with the large chandeliers, I would probably choose the tungsten, and in the classroom, blinding white fluorescent lighting.

So next time I use my Canon, I will lower my expectations of it, and raise them of me, and my ability to learn how to push it’s buttons.  That should be a piece of cake.  My husband tells me that I KNOW how to PUSH all his buttons.  I can’t say that the results of pushing HIS buttons are always picture perfect, though!

I’m pushing for fhewer photo phailures in the phuture.  Wish me luck!  And good luck on taking your own phabulous photos!!

P.S.  Only 15 more minutes for 18 people to LIKE this picture before midnight and raise the number of hits for today to an amazing 50!

Location, Location, Location Making the Most of Meetings

President Elect, Mike Lebsock, begins his term as San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies President on July 1, 2012.  In preparation he meets with Vice-President Elect, Justin Paredes, current President, Marsha Ingrao, and Treasurer, Marvin Awbrey to ensure a smooth transition.  Instead of meeting somewhere bland, the group of history buffs took a self-guided tour of Tulare County’s largest museums located in Mooney Grove Park.

Six on Sunday

Ever heard of Ten on Tuesday?  Take Tuesday to count your blessings.  I have been sitting here on Sunday blog-tired after an invigorating 7 hour board meeting and 8 hours of driving yesterday, trying to think of just six. I am thankful, but I also want to be witty and entertaining, a blogging by-law. And in bloggerland, the blogist also has to consider promoting other blogs to attract more blog readers, or better yet, attract non-blog readers to the blog. So blog blessing #1: I’m feeling up just starting my Six on Sunday.ImageBlogging is becoming an obsession. I have been at this a month tomorrow. Every day I go to my dashboard and look at my stats. We should all have dashboards for things we care about. How many hugs did I get today? Who liked my hair? How do I look in this color? Maybe we should make dashboards for kid’s progress in school. I have 527 all time views, and I am thrilled about that, and I haven’t maximized my blog publicizing according to Steve Graham of AIHE. My dashboard tells me what country my viewers are from. I can’t imagine why people from Belgium would be interested in Grandma, but 3 folks searched for Grandma, and found mine. I wonder if I have relatives I didn’t know about? So I am grateful to all my readers, no matter how random they may be. You notice that I even post some of my spam comments. I don’t if they are vulgar, but if they say nice things, who can resist an innocent post from a spammer? Blog blessing #2 Dashboards that cheer you along with comments and statistics that keep you blogging.

ImageHere is a big one! Officially the voting ended on Friday for San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies Board of Directors. We have a new President, Mike Lebsock, pictured above. Justin Paredes is the Vice President. Dr. Melissa Jordine is the new Secretary, and Marvin Awbrey is the Treasurer still keeping us solvent. Board members are: from Fresno County: Beth Dignan, Linda Boaen, Cindy Thorburn, Matthew Ethen, and Kim Rogers; and from Tulare County: Janet Kelly, Mark Riendl, and Dennis Anderson. Also on the Board, by virtue of her position as Region 7 Director for CCCSS, is Mary Janzen. Congratulations to all of you! We sadly said goodbye to Rodia Montgomery-Gentry from Madera County and Gina Nelson from Tulare.  My last board meeting will be June 7 at Swan Court at the Spike and Rail at 6:00 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend. Blog Blessing #3 SJVCSS is growing and blossoming again.

Once you get started with this it’s easy. You just read about Steve Graham. This is really cool. The new website for SJVCSS will be ready on June 7th. The link is to the old website!  Thanks Justin for manning the old one!  Now I’ve put AIHE-Cicero Systems and me on notice. There is still some content to write, but the bones are good, and the website is almost done. Thanks AIHE! It is to be our present to the new President on the 7th. Blog Blessing #4 A new, clean-cut website that stays current!  Automatically!  ImageYou know already that I went to a meeting yesterday. The good news is that I didn’t gain weight during all that sitting. The other good news is that we are going to have an amazing conference in March, Social Studies on the March with speakers straight from Birmingham. In addition we are going to provide premier training on the Common Core State Standards. I have to spell that out because we are CCSS, just so you don’t get confused. We are looking for 1,000 people who teach Social Studies and even English Language Arts to come to the Bay area. Blog Blessing #5 Marching Orders for Social Studies teachers – Come to the big CCSS Conference next year.ImageFinally, I am grateful for the leadership of Greg Spielman, Past President of CCSS this year. He attended his last Board meeting yesterday. He’s been on the Board for 8 years. I served with him to write By-Laws. He always has an encouraging word to say to and about everyone. Greg, I will really miss you.


Sandra Burdick also served her last day on the Board after 16 years of service. Sandra, to me, is CCSS. She has been a part of the organization longer than I have, and I’ve seen her doing every job there is. She was my roommate the session that the Board came to me to ask if I would be the First Vice President. We worked on By-laws together under her capable leadership. Sandra is so capable and dependable that I wonder how the organization will function without her, but like me, she believes in new leadership to keep the organization fresh. I know I will continue to look to Sandra for leadership and help. She is a rock. Blog Blessing #6: Greg Speilman and Sandra Burdick for their years of dedication to social studies teachers around the state.

So there you have a wordy version of a quick 6 things for which I am thankful on May 20, 2012.  Happier Sunday!

CCSS California Council for the Social Studies

The initials for California Council for the Social Studies are now being confused with Common Core State Standards.  More people will visit our website looking for the Common Core.  We should have a helpful link on there along with some Common Core posts that people will stop to read first.

Brent Heath opened up his home in Ontario, CA for our Executive Board Retreat where we planned for the upcoming year.


The Executive Board consists of the President, Avi Black, President Elect, Brent Heath, First Vice President, Marsha Ingrao, Northern Area Vice President, Denise Findlay, Valerie Dougherty, Central Area VP, and Amanda Roraback, Southern Area VP – soon to be First VP, and Tracy Middleton upcoming Southern Area VP.  For two days we plowed through many nitty gritty details that allow CCSS to present a state conference that encompasses all the social studies, produce literature that keeps teachers informed, and provide an advocate at the state capitol.

I am so excited to be a part of this organization.  Everybody on the Board of Directors are volunteers, and those volunteers change annually or bi-annually.  Yet the mission remains the same – to support and advocate for social studies educators in California.


Serving as a leader means having a say in what goes on in an organization, lots of hard work, but mostly it is a chance to get close to some really awesome people and do something that none of us could ever dream of doing alone.  What a great way to spend our lives!

Joining Stuff

I never used to join things.  I was so shy in school that if I had to give a book report, I’d play sick so I could miss school in hopes that my teacher might run out of time for my report.  Amazingly today I’m the president of a small local professional organization for social studies educators.

San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies started out with maybe 5-6 people when I first found out that I was an automatic member because I had joined California Council for the Social Studies.  A year or so later the small group asked if I wanted to be President.  I was kind of embarrassed about it, but I really did want to be president.  There weren’t going to be any elections because there weren’t any other active members.  I secretly hoped that they wouldn’t rescind their offer.  I’d never been President of anything  before.

I am just ending my second year of being President, and it has been an amazing experience.  The first year, we set some priorities about what we wanted to accomplish. The biggest two things were to have a fantastic banquet to honor teachers, and to start a website and facebook account.  I invited all my friends to join FB.  Then all the board members’s friends.  One person joined who was wearing a colonial costume in his FB profile picture.  I started writing to him, and eventually urged him to run for middle school teacher of the year – which he did.  The next year he qualified as California Teacher of the Year, and he won that, too.  At that banquet the President of National Council for the Social Studies approached him after his speech, and asked him to run for NCCS Teacher of the Year.  I have no doubt that they won’t be able to resist him either.  He is now the President Elect for our local council.

We decided not to limit the teachers that we chose to honor to just members – there wouldn’t have been enough teachers to honor!  I called a professor friend of mine, and asked if I could visit her class of student history teachers.  After making a brief presentation about SJVCSS, I handed them a survey – the old fashioned way.  On it they nominated who they had liked as a high school, middle school, elementary school teacher or professor.  From there we started recruiting these teachers to honor as Teachers of the Year.  So we started drawing in wonderful teachers, then professors, and now administrators and asking them to become members of the Board and committees.  Many did and we developed a strong council.  Some of them didn’t, but remained friends.

What have we learned?  How to write, stick to, and break by-laws, budget and spend the $10.00 per person membership dues,  write  collaboratively, conduct meetings using Robert’s Rules of Order without breaking the gavel, visit cool places together, plan events, and use technology.  I started this website because I want to be able to work with the new website that AIHE is designing for us.  So I learned how to design websites and publish things, and attract an audience.

Is joining an organization a type of professional development?  You Bet! So if you want to add to your own value, join stuff.  Give what you can of yourself, and you will reap benefits you can’t imagine.