Thursday, March 21, 2013

SMUMN - Spring Conference

Cross-Post for St. Mary's University Master's Program:

 In mid-April all Year 2 students will be sharing the results of their Action Research to other Year 2 students, along with all Year 1 students. I selected five sessions that look promising and like they'll have a lot to offer. The subject of my first session will be all about differentiated instruction in a history classroom. Though I'm making a change to Global Studies next year, there will no doubt be many concepts and ideas that will transfer. The researcher examined different ways to differentiate - content, process, and product - and the effect of these different methods on student achievement. As the researcher points out, a one-sized fits all approach in education does not work. However, it also appears that differentiating in just one facet of teaching (content, process, and product) does not work either. I will be most interested to see what form of differentiation appears to work best for which groups of students, and which curriculum concepts.

Following that session I will attend a session about how best to give feedback to students in their written work. Though this session is geared toward a language arts crowd, there is an immense overlap between language arts and the social studies...or at least, there absolutely should be. One thing I have struggled with - and I know I'm not alone - is how to best give timely and meaningful feedback in an efficient manner while keeping my sanity. I've scoured the earth for a solution to this quandary and it appears there is no magic bullet. That said, the research and strategies presented here will add more tools to my belt and I look forward to what will be a highly relevant and important session.

Just before lunch I will attend a session that is right in my wheelhouse - that is, actively incorporating technology to enhance a social studies classroom. Technology in an educational setting is one of my strengths, despite being a school that lacks WiFi or any type of 1:1 program. I am always eager to see and hear different applications of educational technology. Even better, this session will the results of a focused research project to see the results. This should be a great session.

The fourth session of the day is probably the one I'm most looking forward to - it's all about how the use of primary sources in a history classroom can be used to further the learning of gifted and talented students. As a history teacher I believe it's important for students to "do" the work of historians by using primary source material to make judgements and assessments about the past. Not only is this more authentic, but it really challenges students to think critically and make arguments based on evidence. I am eager to see the results of this research.

The final session for the day will be about the use of blogging in a social studies classroom - particularly when it comes to covering current events. I have long wanted to introduce my students to blogging as a way to increase the frequency and audience of their writing. I am hoping that not only will this session discuss the costs and benefits to this, but that it will also provide some solid information from the results of the research.


  1. Completely agree-one size does not fit all in the classroom setting! Differentiation is a challenge since our students' background knowledge/experiences and interests are always changing. I also not don't how much time and energy I should dedicate to providing students' feedback. I am always wondering if it worth my time and energy. I am guessing that it depends on the specific student, the kind of feedback, and the students' age. Enjoy your sessions!

  2. I agree with the great Ted Gehring that your post is a large composition! It does make some valid points and I thoroughly your exuberance about technology.