Common-core anxiety sweeps the land, and professional developers of curriculum and assessment smell dollars. Flashy brochures promise that once that purchase order is signed, every child will pass the new tests. For a pittance more, they'll make the lion lie down with the lamb.
District administrators would be wise to lay down their pens. There's a valuable resource right in front of their eyes. It requires no lengthening of the school day, no elimination of art and music, and no endorsement of checks to third-party developers. It's so familiar we no longer notice it. It's called the history/social studies curriculum.
These shifts have direct implications for the social studies classroom. The increased focus on both informational text and close reading provides social studies teachers with unique opportunities to support student learning. Try these five strategies in your classroom today to infuse the essence of the Common Core standards.
Shift 1: Balancing Informational Text and Literature
Using Authentic Historical Texts to Implement the Common Core
“Teaching students to contend with this complexity by using the homogenized prose of the textbook is like training swimmers to survive a raging sea but never letting them out of a wading pool,” says Wineburg. “That approach sets them up to drown… Traditional pedagogy prepares students to meet the challenges of a world that no longer exists.” He believes that social studies teachers can no longer hand off literacy responsibilities by saying, “I’m not a reading teacher.”
The Library of Congress hosts an online collection of more than 500 political cartoons and caricatures from U.S. History. You can search the collection by keyword and image type. Along with the images you will find links to related resources from the Library of Congress. You could use these public domain works to help students understand the political perspectives surrounding significant political events in U.S. History. A good model for political cartoon-based lesson plans can be found on Cartoons for the Classroom.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Many exercises are aligned to Common Core as well. This particular one features a cartoon and questions on the recent birth in England's royal family.
I am writing to you for some suggestions and recommendations concerning working with science and social studies teachers in light of the writing standards in the common core. I am a former English teacher with 35 years of experience and have, for the past seven years, worked to develop and present workshops and classes for content area teachers in reading – focusing on both disciplinary and content literacy.
AwesomeStories is a gathering place of primary-source information. Its purpose - since the site was first launched in 1999 - is to help educators and individuals find original sources, located at national archives, libraries, universities, museums, historical societies and government-created web sites.
Sources held in archives, which document so much important first-hand information, are often not searchable by popular search engines. One needs to search within those institutional sites directly, using specific search phrases not readily discernible to non-scholars. The experience can be frustrating, resulting in researchers leaving key sites without finding needed information.
AwesomeStories is about primary sources. The stories exist as a way to place original materials in context and to hold those links together in an interesting, cohesive way (thereby encouraging people to look at them). It is a totally different kind of web site in that its purpose is to place primary sources at the forefront - not the opinions of a writer. Its objective is to take the site's users to places where those primary sources are located.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Excellent digital resource when teaching with CCSS, particularly in science and social studies!
My latest multi-touch iBook, Progress and Poverty in Industrial America, is available for your iPad - free / iTunes. It's a great resource for use in the classroom, and serves as a model for teacher or student curation of historic content into interactive digital DBQ's. (More on publishing with iBooks Author.)
This 18-page document-based question guides students through the historian's process with an investigation of the essential question, "How do we evaluate the social costs and benefits of technological innovations?" To make the question relevant to students, it begins with a brief examination of the impact of 21st c technologies / global economy on progress and poverty in contemporary America.
One of my favorite ways to use the commenting feature in Google Documents is to host online discussions around a shared article. Doing this isn’t a radical departure from having a classroom discussion about an article that you’ve printed and distributed to your students, but there are some advantages to hosting your discussion in Google Documents. The first advantage is that your students can participate in the discussion from anywhere at any time they are connected to the Internet. Students absent from your classroom can still participate and can read others’ comments. The second advantage is that your students can have a digital archive of the ideas shared by you and their classmates.
Behind many dull textbook paragraphs, there is a great speech. I have long advocated the study of oratory as a powerful way to promote civic and historical literacy and even to inspire engaged citizenship. For teachers confronted by Common Core standards, which emphasize teaching primary texts, the study of oratory, focusing on the artistry of great speeches, provides a way to combine instruction in history/Social Studies with English Language instruction.
In this post, I'll share my reflections on teaching oratory to high school students in Louisiana as a way to combine English language instruction with Social Studies and, in the process, meet Common Core requirements.
The project to develop shared social studies standards inched forward last weekend, in part by clarifying that it is NOT developing social studies standards. Instead, it is creating a framework to guide states as they rework their own standards in that subject.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has an excellent resource for history teachers. The UMBC Assessment Resource Center for Historyoffers sample assessments based on readings from six eras in U.S. history. The assessments include multiple choice question and performance tasks based on close reading exercises. The performance task assessments include scoring rubrics, sample responses from students, and the documents that students need in order to complete the performance tasks. Click here (link opens PDF) for a sample performance task.
In 2010, the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers released a set of common standards designed to define what today's students need to know and be able to do in order to thrive in tomorrow's world. Adopted by 45 states, these standards are designed to move classroom instruction away from a focus on the simple acquisition of basic facts and towards the more meaningful application of higher level cognitive skills. While standards are clearly defined for Mathematics and English-Language Arts teachers, many social studies and science teachers at the middle and high school level have struggled to figure out just what the Common Core State Standards mean for them.
In this workshop, full-time practicing sixth grade science teacher Bill Ferriter will introduce participants to several simple ways that the Common Core State Standards can be integrated into the work that social studies and science teachers are already doing with their students.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Bill Ferriter is an educator who works tirelessly and with great passion. He openly shares his content and ideas and challenges me to THINK!
If you're not following his blog in your RSS reader, consider it. :)
Earlier this week I conducted a workshop on using Google tools, video tools, and Google Maps Engine Lite in Common Core-aligned ELA & Social Studies lessons. The slides from that workshop are embedded below. The value of the slides is mostly found in the links contained within them. The questions on the picture slides are questions that teachers asked when I prompted them to think like middle school students. We then tried to find the answer to the questions they asked.
This short analysis activity involves comparing and contrasting two images Private Hubbard Pryor—one prior to enlisting with the 44th U.S. Colored Troop Regiment and one after enlisting.
Students will compare and contrast a photograph of Private Hubbard Pryor before and after enlistment in 44th U.S. Colored Troops. Students will consider the similarities and differences between these two images and speculate the reason the photographs were taken.
Deb Gardner's insight:
DocsTeach: an easy to search resource to support common core in the Social Studies Classroom.
The revised draft New York State Common Core K-12 Social Studies Framework integrates existing New York State Learning Standards and the New York State Core Curriculum for Social Studies into a single 3-part document.
Most of the topical coverage in the Social Studies Resource Guide with Core Curriculum has been maintained. “Unifying Themes” based primarily on the National Council for the Social Studies themes, “Common Core Literacy Skills,” and “Social Studies Practices” are features that provide common elements across all grades that serve to unify the framework, strengthen the progression of skills across the K-12 continuum, and establish a consistent design approach.
The Common Core Literacy Skills and Social Studies Practices include the skills and habits of mind that should be developed and fostered using the content for each grade band. Key ideas, conceptual understandings and content specifications are provided for each grade, K-12.
Common Core offers an incentive for teachers to use historic documents to build literacy skills in a content area while empowering students to be the historian in the classroom. But document-based (DBQ) instruction in this context requires four key elements to be successful:
The right documents.
Knowing how to look at them.
Letting students discover their own patterns, then asking students to describe, compare and defend what they found.
Basing the task on enduring questions, the kind that students might actually want to answer.
Social studies supervisors and teachers across the country are revising their unit plans to meet their state’s content standards, as well as, the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies.
Simultaneously, many states are implementing new evaluation and observation frameworks. The performance ratings employed by the most popular evaluation models encourage a shift away from teacher-led direct instruction to more student-centered activities incorporating inquiry and synthesis. In social studies, primary source document analysis goes hand in hand with the 9-12 Common Core reading and writing standards.
Here are five top resources to align your curricula to the Common Core with student driven lessons.
Deb Gardner's insight:
I would definately add EDSITEment to the above list!
This article explores a six-month intervention in five San Francisco high schools. Students using the Reading Like a Historian curriculum showed statistically significant gains in historical thinking, mastery of factual historical knowledge, and general reading comprehension
The Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) seek to define “college and career readiness expectations.” Forty-five states have adopted them, and are moving briskly towards full implementation in the coming year. Last January, I wrote that the standards “represent the greatest opportunity for history teaching and learning to be widely re-imagined since the Committee of Ten set the basic outlines for American education over a hundred years ago.”
While I stand by that statement, with each step towards implementation I see the opportunity being squandered.
Over the past five years, Kathy Thiebes has had what we educators call a “heavy teaching load.” Six classes per day. Some classes with more than 35 students. Approximately 200 students daily.
A high school social studies teacher in the Centennial School District in Oregon, Kathy is also an “early adopter” of the Common Core State Standards. She is in her third year of implementing the CCSS—making her among the first group of teachers in her district (and potentially across the country) to pick up the CCSS and try them out.
There is no doubt that implementing the CCSS for 200 or so students in her economics, government and AP history courses has been a big lift. However, in Kathy’s words, “now that I’m in my third year [of implementing the CCSS], I’ve put in place many routines that have made teaching reading and writing much easier. I always required my students to read and write a lot but the CCSS made me realize that I wasn’t teaching them how to read and write. I was assigning literacy, not teaching it. I had to wrap my head around what the CCSS meant for my classroom and develop the systems to effectively teach reading and writing.”
CCSS offers an incentive for teachers to use historic documents to build literacy skills in a content area while empowering students to be the historian in the classroom. Document-based (DBQ) instruction in this context requires four key elements to be successful.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Peter Pappas has been working with iBook to create fabulous media rich e-books for his students and he's just finished his second one. Following is his methodology for creating media-rich, informative, and engaging material for document-based instruction in the common core classroom:
Choose the right documents
Know how to look at them
Let students discover their own patterns, then asking students to describe, compare and defend what they found
Base the task on enduring questions (and ones that are meaningful to students)
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