Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Current Events - Immigration and Refugee Executive Order

The Choices Program at Brown University continues to provide helpful content for teaching current events. This free curriculum package includes a complete lesson plan with handouts and 14 helpful sources for students to evaluate: 7 in favor of the Executive Order and 7 opposed. If you have not already done so, be sure to get signed up for their free email updates.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Current (CURRENT) Events: The ISIS Threat

In less than two hours, President Obama will address the United States public about the current situation in the Middle East and present what White House officials have cited as a "comprehensive plan" for how the U.S. and its allies will address the ISIS threat. The subject has tremendous relevance to the American public and many teachers see it as an opportunity to help their students learn more about this very current event--if they only had time to develop a lesson with more depth than simply reading or watching news accounts.

I have found the Choices Program out of Brown University to be tremendously helpful with these types of topics. (I highlighted some of their government curriculum in a previous post.) So far, I have only taken advantage of their free materials and am signed up for their email notifications, which included yesterday's link to a free lesson plan, "ISIS: A New Threat." I've only had a brief chance to look at this free material; however, I consider it an invaluable resource for teachers because it at least gives them a starting point for bringing in such a current event immediately into their classroom.

Curriculum from Choices Program

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to School (with Common Core, Historical Thinking, RtI, PARCC...)

Yikes. It looks like I have been on a bit of a hiatus and not keeping up with posts about resources...

Anyway, I recently emailed some newer resources with a former student who graduated in 2010 and is now gainfully employed at a great school (congrats again, JG) and though I would share them here as well. In honor of back to school, below is a summary of some of my previous posts with new resources I have been using in professional development seminars and my methods courses but have failed to blog earlier.

As anyone in PK12 education knows, public education is experiencing what I would call a perfect storm. That is, in the past we have always encountered updated curricula, mandates, and the like; however, now it seems like there are major changes happening all at once: Common Core, PARCC, RtI, and Danielson-inspired teacher observation models, to name a few. Granted, there are important debates related to the merit of these changes; however, I will leave that debate aside and focus on resources that can help teachers with the elements of these curricula I find the most welcoming in the social studies classroom. That is, "cite evidence to support a claim" (basically the first 6th grade Common Core standard for ELA-Social Studies) is more flexible and relevant than requiring students to memorize states and capitals or the first five presidents of the U.S. Alas, I digress, so on to the resources:

1) Thinking Like a Historian Gains Ground
Sam Wineburg's Historical Thinking Matters is often cited as a clear alignment with the new Common Core/Illinois Learning standards. The Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) now has over 100 US and World History primary source lessons "ready to use."

Related past posts are here and here.

2)  Seeing it Helps - Classroom Videos
The Teaching Channel has video clips of some of these lessons being used, including teachers discussing how they implement the curriculum. They are very nicely produced and a great free resource. Just search for "Reading Like a Historian," and you will find them.

Related past post is here.

3) Beyond the Bubble--Oh, How True (or False) It Is
There are some major changes happening in assessment. SHEG has another website to support some of these transitions.

4) It's HOW, not WHAT
Of course, it is important to be familiar with the Common Core Standards related to history/social studies, and it is equally helpful to see how these standards are going to be assessed. PARCC (Pearson's Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is the assessment we are now using in Illinois (and elsewhere), and the released/sample tests are very revealing about how students will be evaluated. Take the 6-8 and/or High School ELA tests to see the Social Studies-ELA relationship and emphasis on non-fiction reading.

Further, above is an example of what I would argue is a subtle but important shift in assessment for middle and high school students. In the 6-8 ELA test, note the question on the second page: "According to 'The Biography of Amelia Earhart,' which events had the most significant impact on Earhart's life?" Students select 4 of the 7 choices. The "catch" is that all 7 events are listed in the source. Students have to identify which 4 are the most significant, according to the source (not their own opinion). That means they are not just reading WHAT the source says but HOW it says it. That is, 3 of the choices are just mentioned in passing; however, 4 of the events are given much more emphasis in the source. (Note that 3 or so of the events are quickly listed in paragraph #3 as opposed to other events that get their own paragraph.) Some students are used to just "hunting and finding" key phrases from the question or multiple choice options to find their answer. Now they have to focus (and likely read, not just skim) on how the author presents information.

Also be sure to see the additional sample PARCC items under "Practice Tests" in the blue banner across the same launch page. I like the science questions that have students corroborate how the same scientific study is presented in a newspaper article, a news video, and excerpts from a professional journal.

5) G.I.D. (Google It, Dammit)
A great way to think of the PARCC assessments is: Students are given the answer; they just have to identify evidence that would support that conclusion. The first Common Core standard in social studies for 6th graders is cite evidence to support a claim. I've given 10th and 8th graders this 1909 cartoon and the claim: "This 1909 political cartoon is AGAINST women getting the right to vote." Then, I have them circle two parts of the image (evidence) that support this claim and explain why. This stumps some students (oddly enough) when they see "Election Day" written across the bottom of the cartoon or "Votes for Women" in the upper right-hand corner, and they want to conclude that the cartoon is in favor of women's suffrage. Even more interesting (and pretty exciting, if you ask me) is that their teachers point out that some of the students who are struggling in their classroom (i.e. have a hard time memorizing information) do better on this exercise than their peers who are "higher-performing students"when it comes to traditional recall tests. Some students can master questions that have them memorize the year women got the right to vote but have been given too few opportunities to actually analyze a source. I would argue that the latter is a more relevant skill for students, and (compared to what we have had in Illinois) it is a stronger focus in the Common Core Standards. The former only requires a Google search and someone who can corroborate, critique, and evaluate the sites where they find the answer(s). These are media literacy skills.

Related posts tagged as Media Literacy are here.

6) One Happy Spiraling (hopefully not too out of control) Curriculum
Finally, to see how this all ties together, I presented this Prezi at a national conference with a high school teacher. In the Prezi, we focus on how the Common Core is a spiraling curriculum (i.e. note how the 5th-grade standards in the first column are reflected--with more sophistication--in the 10th-grade standards). Further, we show how curriculum constructed in this manner (note the matrix/table format) allows teachers to revisit the same skill throughout the semester with different topics. That's an RtI connection that should be explain further at another time.

I hope that you find some helpful resources and here's to a great 2014-2015 school year. Keep up the great work, everyone!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Teaching Current Events? There's a (GIS) Map for That...

I continue to be amazed with the amount of (free) resources available for introducing students to (and engaging them with) GIS. If you want a quick overview of what GIS is and how it relates to geography, consider this video. You can also click on the "GIS" tag/label to find my other entries on this topic.

ESRI's Storytelling Maps page

Storytelling with Maps
I was recently introduced to a few ESRI resources that help students learn about past and current events through maps and GIS data. An excellent resource is ESRI's Storytelling with Maps. There, you can explore topics ranging from Fracking /Shale Gas Boom to The Real Pirates of the Caribbean to Health Care. You can even explore costs by state under the Federal Healthcare Exchanges initiative (i.e., Affordable Care Act/Obamacare). Exploring these topics digitally through time and space is a great opportunity for students to begin learning how to interpret data and maps.

ESRI's Time and Place Module: Indian Removal Act of 1830

Additional Resources
ESRI also has some additional resources worth mentioning. Their "Time and Place" modules include topics such as the Dust Bowl and the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Students are provided maps and documents as a way to integrate information from a variety of sources to form an argument. (Notice the potential Common Core connection here?)

GIS Jobs
Finally, those not sure why GIS should be part of the curricula in secondary schools need only be reminded on how many public and private sectors use this information. ESRI provides several snapshots of these GIS-related jobs, too (e.g., farming, military, retail stores). P-12 education is catching up with this approach to geography, and these (and other) free resources are making this topic more accessible to schools on tight budgets. Happy exploring...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013: 50 Years Since the March on Washington

Today, bells rang at 3pm EST to commemorate the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. More specifically, ringing the bells at three was to signify the importance of one person and one speech, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream." Fifty years later, this powerful speech has become the central focus for the march and civil rights in the U.S, yet a lot of other speeches and individuals were (and are) equally important.

In this post, I thought I would share some resources related to this important date in history. First, I want to highlight an invaluable online video resource, The Teaching Channel. There, you can find hundreds of classroom videos of lessons specifically tied to the Common Core Standards. Inside this archive, you can find about 14 videos related to the Standford History Education Group's project, Reading Like a Historian. At the Stanford site, you can find over 75 quality PRIMARY SOURCE lessons for U.S. and World History.

Here are some lesson ideas for today's historic event from both sites:

1) Teaching Channel's Corroboration Lesson Video for March on Washington (note the full lesson is linked in the lower right-hand corner when you scroll down the screen).

2) Stanford History Education Group's Corroboration Lesson Plan for Civil Rights Act of 1964, which includes an excerpt from the speech John Lewis gave at the march in 1963.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

T.A.L.L. Presentation - June 6, 2012

Here are resources related to my presentation for the T.A.L.L. Conference.

Link to Prezi presentation.

Link to a full description of the lesson for the 1830 Indian Removal Act.

Link to UDL Book Builder for creating sources with scaffolds.
(I have links to additional primary source books/lessons in a previous post.)

Link to DocsTeach.org lesson examples and templates for creating your own.

Link to four units at Historical Thinking Matters.
(I talk more about this source in a previous post.)

Link to Stanford History Education Group's collections of primary sources for over 70 lessons.
(I talk more about this source in a previous post.)

Link to the History Project's Document Source Problems Collection.
(I talk more about this source in a previous post.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Google Earth - Record a Tour

I imagine the typical day at Google starts with a simple question: "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" I have endlessly enjoyed the benefits of Google Scholar, Google Book, and, of course, Google Earth. A great option I recently learned about Google Earth is the record tour option. Here is a quick video that gives the overview for this option: http://youtu.be/iuz6P2ftWB0

Sounds like a good assignment for my social science methods course...