Philipsburg-Osceola teacher recognized at national conference

A Philipsburg-Osceola teacher is hoping she can change the way kids learn social studies.

Leslie Long teaches seventh grade. Her World Civilizations class is one she designed using a conceptual curriculum that she hopes will give kids a way to apply learning about one society or culture to learning about any of them in the future.

When teaching about ancient civilizations, she says, the practice has always been to do it in a linear fashion. Learn about this group, then that group, following more of a timeline approach.

“It seemed like we could teach a little bit more conceptually,” she said. “It’s more about what makes up a civilization.”

So her students look at those building blocks instead. Technology, economy, religion, social stratification — all of the bits and pieces that make up every society. Once they master those, they can apply them to any group they learn about, whether it is Mesopotamia or feudal France.

“It’s like in science or math class, you learn formulas. Social studies doesn’t have that, but this lets them have a more nuanced understanding as they grow.”

Long, a master’s student in 21st century teaching and learning at Wilkes University, created the curriculum to follow brain research that shows the more connections your brain can make with material, the more information you retain.

Just five years into her teaching career, the Penn State grad was selected to give a presentation on her program to the National Council for Social Studies conference in St. Louis last weekend.

“The process for being selected as a presenter at a national conference is very exacting and highly competitive, so this is a distinctive honor for someone from our small district to be chosen and she is certainly deserving of some kind of public recognition,” said Andrew Rea, who teaches Adavnced Placement U.S. history at P-O. “Over 50 people attended her session in St. Louis on (Nov. 23) and she did an exceptional job of representing herself as a professional educator and the Philipsburg-Osceola School District as well.”