Back to School: Social Studies

With the start of the new school year, you may be looking for ways to ease your students back into social studies. Here are a few ways that SAS Curriculum Pathways can help.

Identifying Countries Using Mnemonics and the Interactive Atlas

Start the school year with a geography review. It's a good check of prior knowledge and an important building block for any social studies course. Students can use the Interactive Atlas to review continents, countries, and waterways. They can then use one of the many content-based lessons like Identifying Countries Using Mnemonics, which helps students practice relative locations of countries through mnemonic devices.

SAS Curriculum Pathways Interactive Atlas

Using the Interactive Atlas, students can view maps that identify location and place, choose features from the human or physical environment to view, generate customized maps, and use draw tools to add information.

The Stamp Act

This is a good resource to kick off  U.S. History, particularly for those courses that begin with the ratification of the Constitution or the year 1800. This resource provides a great review of early American history, using primary-source document excerpts to review the tensions between Britain and the American colonies over the Stamp Act that led to the American Revolution.

SAS Curriculum Pathways Stamp Act

Using this interactive tool, students can explore the growing tensions between Britain and the American colonies and the impact of colonial boycotts to answer this question: Should the British Parliament repeal the Stamp Act?

Early Foreign Policy

Here is another review resource for the start of U.S. History. Students investigate the early foreign policy decisions of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison in the newly independent United States.

SAS Curriculum Pathways Early Foreign Policy

With this interactive tool, students investigate foreign policy issues from the Revolution to the War of 1812.

Freedom of Speech in School

This engaging resource builds student interest in civics and history; it also helps them analyze primary-source documents. Students explore the First Amendment and the Supreme Court's ruling in Tinker vs. Des Moines to answer this question: Should students be allowed to display the Confederate flag in school?

SAS Curriculum Pathways Freedom of Speech

Using this interactive tool, students explore the historical record, take a position, and defend it with evidence from primary-source documents.

Want more?

Did you know we have over 600 social studies resources available at no cost, including many on elections and voting, along with a repository of primary sources? From the Aztecs to the Vietnam War, we've got you covered.

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Back to School: Math

Kicking off the new school year, you may be looking for ways to ease your students back into math. Here are a few ways that SAS Curriculum Pathways can help.

Math Stretch

Need a fun, quick way for your students to develop their elementary math skills? Math Stretch provides activities targeting number sense such as counting, telling time, comparing and ordering numbers, and much more.


Simplifying Expressions Using Order of Operations

Are your students a little rusty on their order of operations? Using this interactive tool, students can practice simplifying numerical expressions using the order of operations. As students work through each problem, they'll receive line-by-line feedback. Students can even enter a custom expression!

SAS Curriculum Pathways Simplifying Expressions Using Order of Operations

Data Depot

If you’ve been looking for data in all the wrong places, then Data Depot is just what you need. Populated with over 140 data sets, Data Depot houses exciting data sources and focused lessons that will help your students become more data literate.

Data Depot QL #3001

Data Depot provides over 140 individual data sets. Use these data sources as the foundation for student inquiries and teacher-created lessons.

Proving Triangle Congruence

Need to teach triangle congruence? Using these two geometry lessons--Proving Triangle Congruence -- SSS and SAS; Proving Triangle Congruence -- ASA and AAS--students learn to prove triangle congruence using interactive components and guided practice.

Proving Triangle Congruence - SSS and SAS

Proving Triangle Congruence -- SSS and SAS -- provides instructional content with interactive components and guided practice, along with additional problems to check learning.

Want more?

Did you know we have over 400 math resources and a full Algebra 1 course available at no cost? From quadratic equations to data analysis, we've got you covered.

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Back to School: English

As the new school year gets under way, you may be looking to ease your students back into English language arts. Here are a few ways that SAS Curriculum Pathways can help.

Punctuation Rules!

Start the new school year by reviewing the basic rules of punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and so on. With Punctuation Rules! students learn to use commas, semicolons, apostrophes, and other punctuation marks by watching humorous videos and engaging in interactive practice and assessment activities. Best of all, this tool evaluates the student's own sentences using the same language parser as in our Writing Reviser.

Writing Reviser Add-on for Google Docs

That's right! You can now get our powerful student writing tool, Writing Reviser, as a free Add-on for Google Docs!


SAS Curriculum Pathways also features numerous English language arts lessons on writing, language, and literature. Here are a few samples:

Frederick Douglass Shows How to Avoid Fragments and Run-ons

In this lesson, students follow simple directions in Writing Reviser to see how a talented writer constructs effective sentences and avoids fragments and run-ons. Students also use the tool to revise sentences.

Active Listening

Use this lesson to focus on active listening techniques as a foundation for improving academic performance and personal relationships. Students identify communication problems and learn strategies for responding to these challenges.

Want more?

Did you know we have over 287 English language arts resources available at no cost? From Mark Twain to prepositional phrases, we've got you covered.

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#SummerSTEM 2016 = PBL + Data

Last year, we talked about the importance of Statistical Analysis and Data Mining in light of the ever increasing amounts of data available throughout the world. Back then, these were the hottest skills; and this year--according to LinkedIn--they can still get you hired. And this Money article agrees, SAS skills not only can get you hired, but paid well too. Here's the challenge for the classroom: find creative ways to expose students to the real world of data and the importance of analysis. Why? So that information and knowledge derived from data can drive decision-making. That's where we think Problem- and Project-Based Learning (the PBL in our title) fits nicely.

PBL offers a model that drives student engagement and improves learning. It also places students in real-world contexts that prepare them for college and careers.

The Buck Institute for Education is a leader in preparing teachers to deliver Project-Based Learning and has been leading the community to develop a Gold Standard for PBL. Watch below as John Mergendoller introduces the Gold Standard.

This summer a group of teachers from Wake County Public Schools is getting hands-on experience at area businesses as part of Wake Ed Partnership's SummerSTEM program. Teachers will be combining their business experiences with their professional development training in PBL to enrich student learning in the coming year.

Teachers will be immersed in a world of data known as the Internet of Things. Attendees will be surrounded by sensors gathering data throughout the day on everything from weather to fitness. To help make sense of all that data, teachers will launch a crash course on SAS® University Edition, free for teaching and learning SAS skills (get it here). The course will use data the attendees collect throughout day. Teachers will then work on an outcome to dynamically illustrate their day, through media using charts, graphs, and pictures of the data. We hope this will illustrate one idea for incorporating data into PBL lessons across classrooms this fall.

And if you aren't able to generate your own data, we have you covered with Data Depot, one of 1,500+ free resources from SAS Curriculum Pathways.

WNCN came out and captured a nice story of #SummerSTEM2016 too. Check out this link for a recap:


Quick Links

Bob's Talk:

Jen's Talk:


Code Snaps Activity:

Danny's Talk (




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To STEAM or not to STEAM? That Isn't the Question



Growing up, my parents were obdurately hands-off when it came to influencing my and my siblings’ career interests. This may explain why, at age 6, my sister announced she would be pursuing full-time work as a butterfly. (To her credit, she currently manages a garden shop, which for a human isn’t too far off.) We were given simple guidance: to remember that all work is noble and to view happiness as a measure of success. Years later, college recruitment materials like snowdrifts on the dining room table, imperceptibly swayed by the quixotic tenets of early childhood, I decided to study music at university and later pursued a career singing opera (with meager success).

As someone with an arts background who now works in a STEM field, I struggle to form a coherent opinion on the STEM/STEAM debate. It seems as if arguments regarding the inclusion of the Arts in STEM education – the transition from STEM to STEAM – are as varied as the disciplines each curricula aims to include. Proponents find that the Arts can be instrumental in boosting student engagement and are particularly effective as an “on-ramp to STEM for underrepresented students.” As stimulants for creativity and innovation, some STEAM supporters contend that the Arts – and with them an arts education – are essential to building a strong US economy.

Conversely, adherents to the more traditional STEM approach feel that adding Arts to an already crowded roster dilutes STEM’s primary mission, which is to develop math and science skills through engineering. With a broadening STEM skills gap in the US labor force, this watering-down, STEM supporters say, is something we simply cannot afford.

Regardless of what camp you belong to, examples of successful STEM and STEAM implementations abound, from Upward Bound programs all over the country to Blue School to the Boston Arts Academy STEAM Lab. While each is unique, they share several common themes: a focus on design and design thinking as well as inviting playfulness into a creative planning process. Be it STEM or STEAM, the goal here is to apply knowledge in solving real problems, demonstrating a belief in the application of skills as a mechanism for deeper learning.

STEAM1And I get and believe in the application bit. But I find the arguments from both camps problematic chiefly because they reinforce the rather antiquated notion that art and science are mutually exclusive enterprises, circles in a Venn diagram with no overlap. Not only do elements of art and science coexist in physics just as they do in ballet, the assertion that art is not science and, as such, its worthiness stems from its ability to further scientific causes, feeds this narrative that work which is scientific and factual is more important than labor which is primarily communicative, evocative, or interpretive, and inherently value laden.

But is it? For better or worse, science has long enjoyed a privileged position in our societies. Think about the transformation of higher education in the 20th century. Social sciences – like political science, public and business management, sociology, education, and psychology – all experienced identity crises, “subjecting their research traditions to epistemological and ontological gauntlets in search of a paradigmatic base or precise identity through which to promote scientific rigor or ‘science’ in their respective fields” (Riccucci, 2010, p. 31). Translated, in an effort to gain legitimacy in the academy, social sciences endeavored to become more like the “hard sciences” by changing the way they engaged in research. In short, social sciences pushed for greater empiricism and got way more positivist.

When thinking about the role of education – be it STEM, STEAM, or other – as the mechanism through which a society empowers citizens “to become active participants in the transformation of their societies,” it’s no wonder we focus on science and technology. If being an active participant in society requires individuals to achieve a certain threshold of economic power, encouraging youth to pursue work in the fastest growing and highest paying market is certainly a logical way to err.

I can’t help but think, though, that the buzz around aligning curricula to market trends – which fails to address scant evidence (at least at the postsecondary level) linking job-driven strategies to improved employment outcomes – overlooks human values in its promotion of capitalist ones. In monetizing the value of science, have we lost all sense of the non-monetary value of art? Are we devaluing it precisely because it’s hard to measure? Perhaps a more compelling version of the future highlights STEM professionals as integral members of interdisciplinary teams whose work will change the world. I've no doubt that many of tomorrow's problems will be solved with forward-thinking computer scientists, among others, at the table.

Reflecting on my own metamorphosis, from opera (art) to research (science), this notion that the transfer of skills from one to the other is unidirectional is, frankly, laughable. For me, the links between these seemingly disparate experiences have happily become a dense and reciprocal net. The resilience learned from countless hours failing in a practice room has certainly fueled many a late night modelling session just as perfecting research protocols has made me more exacting and efficient in rehearsal.

I guess what I'm saying is that arguing whether it should be STEM or STEAM misses a larger, more important point. As articulated by Anne Jolly, “we need students who are motivated and competent in bringing forth solutions to tomorrow’s problems…it’s about making every student a fully-literate 21st century citizen.” In my mind, that includes literacy in the arts and sciences with equal import, not one in the service of the other.

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Breaking the Barriers to Political Cartoon Analysis

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then the layers of nuance and meaning in a political cartoon (often with some strategically placed text) must be worth at least 10,000. Those primary source text documents we love to throw at students are great, but political cartoons can offer a change of scenery while building the same important critical reasoning skills. It might even provide some humor, or at least a clever angle that provokes further investigation.

The symbols and analogies woven into political cartoons are illusive by design. So how can we give students the tools to analyze political cartoons and the confidence to start unleashing some of those 10,000 words of epiphany?

SAS Curriculum Pathways offers a content-focused series for both U.S. History and World History with tools to help students decode political cartoons.

Take voting rights for women, for example. This classic political cartoon summarizes the 19th Amendment’s ratification in one clever image that gets to the heart of the struggle.


What is going on here? What complex story is this image telling us? After spending a few minutes considering various elements of the image, this online tool can help students break it down.

The interactivity provides handy rollovers to help define text references like “National Suffrage” and “Ratification.”


Next students can start determining  what emotions are communicated by the central figure. Does she seem in a hurry, a bit apprehensive? Why? The focus is on those last few buttons. How should students interpret that part of the image? If they need a few clues, this online tool offers enough explanation to set their thinking in the right direction.


Now take a look at this cartoon from FDR and the New Deal. What’s next for this homesteading FDR in his Granny apron?


The Supreme Court had just overruled the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). (It is interesting that both those acronyms stand for completely different organizations today.)


What piece of equipment is he hoping to save from the Supreme Court Moving Co.?


And what’s the power source in that little generator?


Whether they are analyzing pertinent content presented in a political cartoon to help explain a complex issue, or creating a clever caption that highlights the attitude and meaning of the image (alla New Yorker cartoon contests), it's an engaging activity to sharpen a student’s analytical skills.

Here are some more resources from the Turning Points in U.S. History and World History series that offer political cartoon analysis activities using the online clues.

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Project-based Learning, Data Literacy, and Online Resources

In the 1960’s students spoke of the “mind-blowing” Age of Aquarius. Today they speak of something even more amazing — and a good deal more data intensive: the Internet of Things (IoT), in which objects like doors and light switches can collect and exchange data. Of course, students are also bombarded with information on social and scientific issues, along with facts, opinions, advertisements, political speeches, blogs about health, the environment, technology, and so on.

Project-based learning (PBL) helps students survive this data deluge and voice their ideas on local and global issues.

The Inquiry-Based Disciplinary Literacy (IDL) Model provides unique student-driven opportunities to solve authentic problems in a collaborative environment. Planning, action, and reflection are crucial.

Students direct their own learning by developing real-world questions and conducting research to answer those questions. Students also decide what they will create and how they will share their findings. As students acquire new knowledge and embed it in the project, they learn and apply skills from all content areas.

The IDL process has five phases: (1) Ask a compelling question; (2) Gather and analyze sources; (3) Creatively synthesize claims and evidence; (4) Critically evaluate and revise; and (5) Share, publish, and act (Spires, H.A., Kerkhoff, S., Graham, A. & Lee, J., 2014).


Students begin with a list of topics. These can be derived from content-area standards, interdisciplinary units, news stories, books, social media, and other sources. Next, students learn to write a compelling question — one that motivates them to seek answers supported by sound evidence. In the process, students learn to identify the position and motivation of various stakeholders.

In the research phase, students make decisions about the credibility and relevance of the information they find — skills crucial to success for anyone confronting the IoT.  To make these evaluations, students must build knowledge from data (i.e., they must be data literate). That means answering some key questions: How was the data collected? Is it credible and relevant?

Now students can present and defend their opinions by making sound judgments based on reliable information. Key challenges in this phase involve choosing the best way to organize and display information for a specific audience.

PBL lends itself to differentiated instruction since students must make decisions about their roles in creating the final product. Striking differences in abilities will emerge. Students have a natural affinity to work on tasks that highlight their own strengths and interests. By working collaboratively in PBL groups, students can demonstrate those strengths and take responsibility for their roles in completing the project.

Students think critically to create the question and plan the investigation, as well as when they collect, evaluate, and display the data. Decision-making skills are crucial if students are to select appropriate digital tools to research, synthesize, evaluate, and publish the end product.


SAS Curriculum Pathways provides quality resources for supplementing PBL lessons — for free! You’ll find hundreds of standards-aligned lessons in the five core disciplines, each equipped with guides that include learning objectives, assessment rubrics and keys, and a detailed procedure.

A constraint in teaching data literacy is the lack of grade-level appropriate data sets. With SAS Curriculum Pathways, that’s no longer an issue. Data Depot provides an online repository of more than 100 downloadable, user-friendly data sets that enable students to work with real-world statistics.

Discover Writing Navigator, a writing tool that guides students through the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. By integrating these resources, teachers can create project-based learning lessons and teach data literacy in any discipline.

Want to learn more…

If you are attending ISTE  in Denver this summer, stop by our poster session, PBL, Data Literacy and Online Resources, on Wednesday, June 29, from 8:00 am–10:00 pm MDT.

Our goals are as follows:

  1. Introduce participants to free K-12 resources for supplementing PBL lessons including:
    • Data Depot, a repository of data sources and focused lessons that will help your students become more data-literate.
    • Writing Navigator, four interrelated products that guide students through the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, and publishing.
    • Explore! Primary Sources, a repository of materials in which we’ve clarified the historical context and provided content-based questions that encourage active reading.
    • Science Virtual Labs, online experiments across a broad range of core topics.
    • Interactive Atlas, view and generate customized maps; use draw tools to add information.
  2. Answer questions about PBL implementation.
  3. Gather feedback and recommendations for improvements.

Hope to see you there!

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Improving Student Writing with a Free Add-on for Google Docs

Among the more than 240 million Google Drive users are many students who increasingly use Google Docs to create essays, lab reports, blog posts, and other forms of communication. That’s one reason why SAS Curriculum Pathways has created the SAS Writing Reviser Add-on, a tool that helps students using Google Docs improve any type of writing. And if you’re attending ISTE this year in Denver, you can check out this writing tool by making a quick stop at our poster session, Improving Student Writing with a Free Add-on for Google Docs, on Monday morning, June 27, from 8:00-10:00 MDT.

In the past, writing tools espoused abstract ideals of perfection that students were then asked to transfer to their own work. Not surprisingly, that transfer often failed to occur. The Writing Reviser Add-on shifts the paradigm by focusing on whatever the student writes. The impact of that shift is difficult to overstate.

This tool helps students improve their work in ways that traditional products cannot. Specifically, the add-on helps students ask questions experienced writers ask automatically. The focus is not mere mechanical correctness, but the kind of judgment that is essential to effective writing. The tool is designed to be instructional (not just evaluative), to help students take advantage of missed opportunities, and to provide teachers with a record of those enhancements.

The Writing Reviser Add-on can be used in a variety of contexts depending on student needs and available technology: individual, small-group, and whole-class. It can be used by students as they complete essay assignments drawn from original prompts created by the student or teacher. The tool is learner-centered and standards-based, and it targets higher-order thinking skills.

In this session, you will do the following:

  • See a demonstration of this add-on
  • Learn about best practices for integrating it in a variety of educational settings
  • Have an opportunity to use the tool—just as students would

We look forward to seeing you in Denver!

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Closing the STEM Opportunity Gap with Free Apps for K-5

It's no secret: there is a growing gap between the number of STEM jobs available and the number of workers qualified to fill them. Of even greater concern is the under-representation of  women and minorities in STEM careers compared to the general population. Organizations like Change the Equation and the Department of Education attribute this discrepancy to a lack of STEM opportunities and engagement for women and minorities in the United States. For example, these organizations identify a lack of preparation among elementary school teachers to encourage female participation in STEM. In addition, they note that novice teachers are more likely to teach STEM courses at high-poverty schools, meaning that students in such schools are likely recieving a less-than-equitable education compared to their more affluent counterparts. Lastly, minority students are woefully underrepresented in STEM AP courses.

Technology, known to some as "the great equalizer," has shown promise in reducing America's achievement gap. In fact, The US Office of Educational Technology identifies free STEM software, like SAS Curriculum Pathways, as a potential solution for closing the opportunity gap. However, technological promises are contingent on equitable access to content. Otherwise, edtech solutions run the risk of widening the achievement gap by widening the opportunity gap.

At SAS Curriculum Pathways, we remove the financial barrier to high-quality education software. As part of a STEM-based company, we are particularly interested in fostering the development of tomorrow's STEM leaders. Furthermore, we recognize the breadth of technology being deployed in schools and the need for cross-platform, device-agnostic resources. Our hope is that any student, regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status, in any school, regardless of technology implementation, can take advantage of our resources.

STEM Opportunity Gap

Interested in learning more? Are you attending ISTE this year in Denver? If so, swing by our poster session, Closing the STEM Opportunity Gap with Free Apps for K-5, on Tuesday, June 28 from 10:30 am–12:30 pm MDT. During this poster session, we hope to achieve three overarching goals:

  1. Introduce participants to free K-5 resources for building a solid STEM-ready foundation, such as the following:
    • Reading with SAS Reading Records, a digital solution for running records of reading
    • Math with SAS Math Stretch, a suite of early number sense exercises
    • Coding with our latest app, CodeSnaps, a tool for coding in a no-, low-, or high-tech environment
  2. Work individually with attendees to devise an integration strategy that works for their classroom.
  3. Gather feedback and recommendations for future product improvements.

Hope to see you there!


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Engaging ELL Students with Authentic Experiences and Digital Resources

Language teachers often take advantage of authentic input to enhance learning output. The use of realia allows students to see and hear the target language used properly and in context, which heightens linguistic and cultural comprehension. SAS Curriculum Pathways offers free resources that serve as authentic materials (#authres) for English Language Learners (ELL). These resources can also be adapted to teach academic subject matter and second language skills concurrently.

ELL_ISTE2To accommodate the range of learning preferences and levels in an ELL classroom, teachers must select materials that are applicable to the lesson and of interest to the students. To customize and personalize a learning activity, TESOL suggests that teachers consider three C’s: concepts, contents, and customers.

The flexibility of our resources allows for differentiated instruction and supports a variety of assessment methods. Interactive lessons put students at the center of their own learning while visually dynamic content and ELL-friendly practices (closed-captioning, roll-over tool tips) ensure that the learner is able to understand the material and deduce meaning and purpose.

Want to learn more?

Are you attending ISTE this year in Denver? If so, swing by our poster session, Engage ELL Students with Authentic Materials and Relevant Digital Resources, on Monday, June 27 from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm to learn about the following:

  • Using core subject matter to provide ELLs with discipline-specific content and second language skills concurrently.
  • Content-based instruction and relevant learning experiences that allow students to explore multiple examples, confront real-life problems and practical applications, and make connections between prior and new knowledge.
  • Creating meaningful interaction to communicate for social, intercultural, and instructional purposes.

Hope to see you there!

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