In a month, we get to join hundreds of California Social Studies teachers at the CCSS (California Council for Social Studies) annual conference. As every year, I am excited to engage with those passionate about social studies education in our home state.
On Friday, February 24th, I will be leading a session called: Building Collaboration Without Losing Autonomy: Common Assessments on Historical Thinking. I am excited to talk with teachers about the importance of common assessments, historical thinking, and the collaboration that can be had by combining the two.
So often, history teachers work in silos. The lack of funding, the variety of content eras under the umbrella of “social studies,” and the general lack of time often keep us from collaborating with others both in the department and in other departments. Common assessments, when built in as a routine, can change that! By widening the community of practice, we can gain more support, better ideas, and clearer data on student growth. These are all wins as we pursue the aim of cultivating historical thinkers in our classrooms.
Often, our counterparts in ELA and STEM have clear means to build collaboration with one another (not to mention the funding to go with it… sigh). But by utilizing common assessments that emphasize historical thinking and the skills of the historian, we too, can build this type of collaboration. What’s even better about this approach to common assessments is that they do not interfere with the general content scope and sequence of our classes. By assessing our students’ ability to think historically, we assess how they navigate the information that their class is defined by, rather than their mere retention of that information. This opens up so many doors for both vertical alignment in Social Studies across grade levels, but also interdisciplinary collaboration with our ELA and STEM peers.
I’m excited to dive into the specifics of this approach with a room of impactful educators up in Santa Clara County. If you are attending the California Council for Social Studies conference, be sure to come and say hi at our session or our booth!