Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves - and be free.
Our Classroom's Guiding Principles
Think for yourself
Respect yourself, others and this space
Think for yourself
Respect yourself, others and this space
Lesson Plan #1 - Backwards Planning
Lesson Plan #2 - Thematic Planning
Lesson Plan #3 - Assessments
Lesson Plan # 4 - Social Justice
Lesson Plan # 5 - Primary Sources
September 24, 2015
- Discussion: “I believed, and still believe, that teaching is a separate skill—in fact, an art that is creative, intuitive, and highly personal.” - Khan. Can people teach anything, as long as they know the material? No. I have known many individuals who have had strong subject knowledge but were unable to teach it. I agree that teaching is “an art that is creative, intuitive, and highly personal”. You have to have a deep understanding of how students learn and find creative ways to invest them in the learning process, especially as it relates to History, which can often seemed antiquated and mundane. You must be intuitive in the sense that you are able to make adjustments based on the particularities of student needs. Additionally, you must be able to react quickly and appropriately in the moment, whether it be intellectually in the ways you tap into a students’ mental capacities to help them understand a concept or behavior management-wise in the ways that you must respond to the everyday particularities of student behaviors and personalities. Finally, it is always highly personal in the sense that developing meaningful relationships with students is important, on top of you needing to frequently reflect on and refine your skills in order to continue being a strong instructor and facilitator of learning.
- Drake & Nelson, Chapter 4: It’s a common pitfall of History teachers to stick to chronological presentations of the past. It is easiest and most logical. There is a plethora of resources and materials and information already prepared for you. But in my opinion, it is lazy (if not chosen and planned for intentionally) and can provide students with too cursory an understanding the past, as one of the readings stated, “rudimentary”. This chapter outlined alternative approaches to organizing and teaching History. One that stood out to me was this idea of thematic organizations of history, more specifically diachronic and synchronic modes of thematic organizations. The examples provided began to give me ideas about how to alternatively plan thematic units in my own course and to essentially “work harder” to organize ideas for my students in ways that are much more meaningful that chronological formations.
- Zevin, Chapter 10: This chapter built on the ideas presented in Drake & Nelson's Chapter 4, re-emphasizing the chronological approach that is frequently taken to the teaching of History. The ways in which History standards and teachers have strove to present a more balanced curriculum that includes the experiences of those who have been traditionally marginalized and ignored is also reviewed. Alternative designs are presented and explored. One that I found to be particularly interesting was the "Issues-Centered Approach" that builds on the thematic approach to explore debatable questions that push student thinking.
- From both Drake & Nelson’s Chapter 6 on Creating Historical Understanding and Communication Through Performance Assessment and Zevin’s Chapter 8 on Evaluation in Social Studies, I took away the important of assessing students through a multitude of creative ways and of providing clear and consistent pathways for success. The points made about rubrics in both chapters stood out to me the most considered the extent to which I use them in my classroom to provide full transparency to students and families about the ways in which they will be assessed. I frame this as “pre-checklists” so to speak to students and families that can be used to assess any given assignment’s quality before it is submitted to essentially predict its grade and allow for revision and self-regulation prior to submission. To be frank, the use of rubrics also streamlines the grading process immensely and provides clear evidence for the ways in which an assignment did or did not meet the bar. In speaking with students and families, it is much easier to communicate shortcomings and areas for growth in ways that are logical and more often than not well-received. To this end, I will continue my use of them and continue to find creative ways to assess students through Performance Assessments that deviate from traditional understandings of how to gage student mastery.
- Zevin 3: Teacher Roles and Student Audiences: This chapter outlines teaching as acting, consisting of many roles and defined using a three-part framework (1. Didactic, 2. Reflective and 3. Affective). In working with all students, it is important to adapt material for the given student audience through role-playing, careful selection of content, and asking exciting questions. There is a focus on connecting with students in order to make the learning process meaningful. The part I took away focused on teaching second-language students and the multicultural classroom. Considering the racial, social and political dynamics of my classroom, I think about the ways in which it is absolutely critical that they are all reached and given the proper support to be successful.
- Zevin 6: Teaching Strategies for Higher Level Skills; Zevin: Writing Skills in Social Studies: Both chapters focused on teaching and assessing higher level skills. I focused on the aspect of using essays as a powerful means by which to assess students. The problem, however, lies in interpretation and standardization. To avoid this, there is a need for a clear criteria for success and it is important to create your exemplar model. Essay writing requires frequent practice and feedback, can assess lower-level comprehension questions or higher-level reflective skills. Criteria for success should include (1) a recapitulation of the goals you want to assess, (2) detail and direction in the essay question and (3) specific size, structure, time allotment, and grading standards. Though I already use a criteria for success, this clarified and added dimension in ways that I feel will benefit my students and help me to continue to push them cognitively. Perception-Based Questions (PBQ) were also discussed. Though not much was dedicated to their discussion, having an alternative means by which to assess students in a way that is grounded in subjectivity is exciting. It gives students a voice and allows the criteria for success to be freed up in a sense, allowing for opinions, feelings and viewpoints to have value.
- Drake & Nelson 10: Using Writing to Engage Your Students in the Past: "Writing history is a perpetual exercise in judgment" -- Cushing Strout --> This idea that students are making and re-making meaning of history through writing. Mention of the many different forms that it can take (example: PowerPoints, videos, advertisements). Included a very useful table of examples (i.e. The Writing Generator) of creative ways to engage students in writing about the past in ways that not only incorporate multiple sources, but also lend students a great deal of autonomy and creative license.
- Drake & Nelson 7: Using Primary Sources - The First, Second and Third Order Approach: History teaching as a co-investigation in which the teacher and students shape and reshape their interpretations about the past. Transformed primary and secondary sources into first, second and third order documents that involve more collaboration. First and second order documents are essential documents and documents as supporting and contrasting documents; third-order documents are the documents students find. Tons of meaning making and heavy lifting on the part of the students, again fostering autonomy and cultivating creative license.
- Zevin 2: The Fields of Social Studies: This chapter discusses the relationship between theory, goals and practice in teaching Social Studies. It exposes the limitations of teaching in isolation and of the need for balance so as to develop “more aware, critical and sensitive students”. By shifting perspectives, including multiple modalities of thinking and knowledge, content can be broadened and student understandings deepened. Integrating disciplines through a fusion model and providing students with multiples ways in which to engage with the content teaches students the overlapping and borrowing nature of subjects.
- Zevin 7: Planning a Unit from Start to Finish: This chapter covered unit planning and important considerations to keep in mind throughout the unit planning process. The idea of planning “with the end in mind” was emphasized, reiterating the importance of building in frequent informal and formal evaluations throughout the unit to ensure students are mastering concepts that will allow them to build on information and ultimately master the unit’s end goals. This chapter encourages teachers to use a variety of sources in order to build interest and engagement, vary perspectives and provide students with multiple opportunities to engage with rich primary and secondary sources.
- Zevin 8 – Evaluation in Social Studies: Added to site October 1, 2015 in conjuncture with D&N 6
- Zevin 14: The “New Age” of Multimedia – Part I: Reading Words and Images: Print Media and the Fine Arts: This chapter detailed the myriad of opportunities rich print and visual media has in enhancing the Social Studies learning experiences. From primary and secondary sources to journalistic and literary reporting, there is plenty of potential for student learning. At the same time, teachers should also work hard to teach students about an author’s goals, biases, message and style considering issues with quality and reliability. For example, students should learn to interrogate whether or not pictures are candid or posed. Pictures can lead us to make lots of conclusions but we should always question how the images were made in order to determine what messages an individual may have really been trying to send through its production. Indeed, questioning which photos we as teachers choose to use can reveal biases in our own thinking that may need to be balanced in order to present students with robust and multiple perspectives so they may make decisions themselves.
- Zevin 16 – Beyond the Social Studies Classroom: This chapter compels Social Studies teachers to continue growing their practices, to not get stagnant in their teaching but to continue learning and updating their understanding of History and its multiple ways of being taught in order to optimize student learning experiences. The chapter recommended joining professional organizations, regularly reading journals and attending conferences and summer professional development opportunities in order to accomplish this. Additionally, this chapter encouraged teachers to build feedback into their courses so that they can make regular changes based on meaningful student reflection. As society, culture and technology continue to advance, so should our teaching of the world that ultimately reflects those changes.
- Zevin 17 – The Future of Social Studies Education: More work and testing but students aren’t necessarily anymore informed than they were in the 30s and 60s. ambiguous goals. Two opposing views: the transmission of factual knowledge with patriotism and civic pride vs. active, applied knowledge and critical questioning to create citizens capable of making their own decisions. Lots of recommendations that I found particularly useful for my practice were:
- Trying to transmit the past by connecting it to the present
- Experimenting with new approaches
- Incorporating group dynamics and field experiences
- Decreasing or modify reliance on textbooks
- Asserting my own style and philosophy
- Listening to student complaints and suggestions (building on feedback as suggested in Chapter 16)
- Questioning assumptions, test generalizations and allow innovations a fair trial run
- Drake & Nelson 1-3: These three chapters provide a strong foundation for how to go about thinking about the practice of teaching History. Chapter 1 covers the responsibilities of a Social Studies teacher as being six-fold:
- The classroom as a laboratory and grounds for co-investigations
- A space for multiple perspectives
- For the blending of political and social history
- To expose and more deeply understand the boundaries of freedom in the US, often taken for granted by students
- Historical thinking as a mode of learning
- The importance of deliberative discussions.
- Ultimately, it is emphasized that one should not be dimensional in your teaching of History. Chapter 2 covers the history of teaching history and how it was initially developed as a space to teach morals and patriotism. It covered the multiple ways in which it has been challenged over the years to be a more robust subject area that considers multiple perspectives, disciplines and dimensions. Chapter 3 discusses historical thinking and the ways in which students' minds are not blank slates, but rather domains that come with much prior knowledge and experience that must be acknowledged, identified and worked with in order to help develop mature student perspectives.
- Drake & Nelson 5 - Lesson and Unit Planning:
- Textbooks as a starting point, though recognizing that well-written books of history see history as investigation and readers as co-investigators. Standards as a framework but not to be used as a numbing checklist.
- Though lesson planning styles vary, lesson pans should be written so clearly that other educators could easily teach your lesson. Lecture notes and key questions should be included, as well as any primary sources to be used.
- Lesson Plans should also include instructional and expressive educational objectives, as well as an assessment of some sort to ensure all students have actually mastered those objectives.
- A unit plan matrix can be used to remind you of key aspects of an effective unit plan, while also helping you to keep in mind the various learning styles of your students and how to vary instructional practices accordingly.
Lesson Plan Context: Completing a jigsaw activity about 8 prominent European Explorers. The following assessment activities are suggested.
- Create an advertisement for a technological advance. This should be a one-page ad that could appear in a newspaper or magazine. Your ad should include an image, price, and description. Optional ideas include testimonials, slogans and related products.
- Create a business card for a person of a company related to your reading. Choose the options that make the most sense for your topic. Your card should include this individual's name, their sponsor, address, job title, description of business, logo and lists of services and/or products.
- Day Planner: Imagine yourself in the role of one of the European Explorers and create a day planner that details what you would be doing each hour of the day.
- Summaries and reflections about individual explorers
- Completed lists, charts and graphic organizers
- Visual representations of information
- A collaborative chart paper assignment that includes key information about a particular explorer (such as their motivations and impact) along with an image
- Quick five multiple-choice question exit ticket
- Paragraph response about the overall impact of the different explorers with cited evidence from the text