Reading Like a Historian…

Hi all,

Here’s the Link: Stanford’s History Education Group – Reading Like an Historian.

Reading Like an Historian

Please check out this website – it is a great one for all social studies teachers, and it connects our content to Common Core and skill development in text analysis.  Brad Fiege from Arcadia presented this to the social studies department, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

The website is an excellent resource for social studies teachers for a number of reasons.  First, lesson plans are created with Common Core in mind.  The center of these lesson plans is textual documents, primary sources, maps, etc. that are historically relevant.  The push is to have student “Doing History” rather than simply learning about it – and that is at the heart of the Common Core standards within social studies.  Second, it is easy to access these plans, and they are free.  Simply register once, and you have access to these plans in PDF format.  All materials are printable, and you can save them as well.    As well, the lessons are created through the Stanford History Education Group, and the resources are grade level appropriate for our students.  Many documents are from the Library of Congress as well.

There are numerous lesson and documents available right now in US History, and just last month, Global lessons were added too.  That database will continue to grow.  There are currently 15 lessons in the Global History database.

CCLS Training in Social Studies

Hi all,

Over the past two weeks, and continuing into April, social studies teachers at Arcadia have been working with the Common Core Learning Standards through professional development from Dr. Marijo Pearson (Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES).  The focus has been on integrating CCLS into the Social Studies content by focusing on the standards and connecting them to current best practice.

imagesCAJUIFGKOn March 5th, teachers will continue their work as they begin to explore the CCLS Standards, and work with evidence guides to plan and teach a Common Core lesson in the next few weeks.  I hope to be able to work with teachers and share in this process.  Our last two sessions will focus on text dependent questions, as well as text complexity.   More to follow soon…

Matt

 

Common Core Resources

Hi all,

Below are some great resources regarding the Common Core Standards – broken down by grade level for social studies.  These were also sent via email, but now you can access them from any computer.  If you have questions about Common Core for Social Studies, how it fits into the PLC process, the new APPR/TED Documents, or observations, please let me know. 

Common Core Standards for Social Studies, 9-12

CCSS Teacher Guide, 9-12

Common Core Standards for Social Studies, 6-8

CCSS Teacher Guide, 6-8

Common Core Standards for Social Studies, K-5

CCSS Teacher Guide, K-5

…Enjoy – Matt

Helping Students Critically Analyze Text

The Common Core State Standards are asking us to critically analyze text in a deep and meaningful way for students.  Please click on the above video to see what methods some teachers are using to help students identify key concepts in a text.  This is a 5th grade example from teachingchannel.org but can easily be modified to meet the needs of all learners.

EngageNY Posts New Common Core Exemplars for Middle School & Elementary

Some new common core exemplars have been posted on engageny.  Thanks to @Stephanie_Smyka for directing me to these great interdisciplinary resources.  I particularly like the Fredierck Douglass example.

Additionally, if you are a fan of David Coleman you may want to check out www.achievethecore.org for more CCLS resources.

Also, NY Massachsettes and Rhode Island have developed some new ruberic to help direct some of the new common core lesson development.  Check out the links below:

Additionally, if you are a fan of David Coleman you may want to check out www.achievethecore.org for more CCLS resources.

What if Bill Belichick Taught Social Studies?

It is the most wonderful time of the year… the NFL Playoffs and once again the New England Patriots are among the favorites to win it all.  The Patriots have been through player changes and quarterback changes over the past decade but still every year they are in the hunt.  What makes them so special?  One man.  Coach, Bill Belichick.  Even though my team has been long excluded from this competition for the 12th consecutive season (Lets Go Buffalo!) I still enjoy watching the games and most importantly the in-depth interviews that are done in the pregame shows.  The Patriots QB Tom Brady today in a pregame interview gave 2 reasons he feels his team is successful year in and year out. 

1: The players feel that the Coach Bellichick has prepared them for each and every opponent.

2: The players believe in their ability to succeed against any opponent they face. 

I can’t help but to conclude that the two are connected. 

Certainly this approach is not isolated to just football.  If one is prepared by a good teacher than one feels confident when challenged. 

Take the NYS Regent exams in Global History and Geography and American History and Government.  The two assessment are very different… or are they?  Surely the content has differences, the classes leading up to them are different but the tests are almost the same in one very important way.  Format.

Roughly 50% of these two exams are on multiple choice and content problem solving.  Students often refer to this section as the multiple guess section. 

10% of the exams are the Scaffolding Questions in Part IIIA these are essentially plug and pull questions.  Traditionally students do very well in this section.  These questions may change with the new common core initiatives from NYSED (See previous post)

40% of the final score for these exams is derived from expository writing in Parts II and IIIB (The Thematic and DBQ Essays)

Throughout the last 11 years as a teacher I consistently looked to pinpoint an area to focus my energy on to  leverage improved results.  On almost every report I analyzed I came to the same conclusion.

Improving a student’s ability to write to convey meaning will have the highest impact on improving test scores.

So… If I was to follow the Coach Belichick’s preparation model (which mirrors Sun Zsu’s The Art of War) I would analyze the opponent’s weakness and focus on defeating them by exploiting that weakness.  Does this mean spend 40% of my time in the classroom focusing on writing to mirror the exams?  Some would say yes.  As a former teacher I can say that I would have no life while I provided meaningful feedback on all that writing.  But… there are ways to increase the amount of writing in the classroom and not destroy your home life. 

At Odyssey this week I watched Mrs. Kirchmaier give students anchor papers and a rubric of a writing assignment that they had already completed.  Mrs. K helped the students synchronize their grading using exemplars of high, medium and low, scored samples.  She helped the students understand how the rubric was followed to obtain that score.  In the end the students were asked to peer grade their partner’s essay and provide feedback as to some improvements that could be made.  The students were then allowed to rewrite their essays with the new feedback and now a better understanding of the requirements and what a perfect exemplar looked like.  When the final draft and rough draft are handed in the next day much of the meaningful feedback was already done by the student’s peer and the teacher can focus on a quick scan of the perfected final.

In many ways this activity allows us to pull back the curtain on what is expected and allows the students to write with a better understanding of these expectations.  Feel free to use the NYSED Regents site to pull anchor papers for an activity like this and help your students practice old exam essays.  http://www.nysedregents.org/

Again, I am not saying we all need to mirror the exam and spend 40% of our time with in-depth expository writing… but certainly increasing writing practice by even 10% from where we are now would see major dividends.  

If we prepare our students for the challenge that we know is coming they will believe in their ability to succeed against it. 

After all, in 1991 my Buffalo Bills were heavily favored to win Super Bowl XXV. Most experts expected that the Giants defense would not be able to contain the Bills’ turbo-charged, no-huddle offense, which had scored 95 points in 2 playoff games.  We all know what happened.  The Giants did defeat the Bills.  The NY Giants defensive game plan is still displayed in the NFL Hall of Fame.  The author of this plan… NY Giants Defensive Coordinator, Bill Belichic.

Dissecting the Perfect Essay

As a child I liked taking things apart and putting them back together to find out how it worked.  Today, that skill I feel has helped make me a better teacher. 

In a recent visit to Olympia High School I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Auriso to discuss some of his writing strategies that he uses in his World History classes.  One of his strategies that he is using currently helps students write better essay introductions by reading NY State Ed anchor papers, taking them apart and putting them back together again.  The theory behind it is brilliant.  The essential question is, “How did the author construct his argument and how did he sequence his argument to make the most sense?” 

Sound familiar?  “I will take Common Core Learning Standards for $100 Alex!”

This is no different than dissecting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or MLK’s Letters from a Birmingham Jail and delving into the reading to find the intent of the author and the skilled usage of words, phrases and passages. 

As with any great lesson Mr. Auriso’s preparation was key. 

Step 1: Access the NY State Education Department’s Regents web page http://www.nysedregents.org/

Step 2 Find an old Regents Exam writing question worth delving into.

Step 3 Locate the model paper with a perfect score (5/5) and print it out for the students. 

Mr. Auriso typed out the introduction of his model essay and put the text into a website that helps scramble sentences. 

 
Finally the students would get strips of paper with one sentence each printed out. 
The student’s task: Knowing what we know about what makes a good introduction reconstruct the intro as the author intended it. 
 
So you ask… How would one diversify a lesson like this?  Simple.  Instead of sentences give the students 5 index cards with the paragraphs (Intro, 3 main body paragraphs, and conclusion) printed out to help a student know the structure of the entire essay if that is what they need help identifying. 
 
Taking things apart to learn what make them tick is great as long as you don’t have parts left over. 

Twitter as a Check for Understanding

Arguably one of the best ways to see if a student has understood a text is to ask them to summarize it into their own words.  This important skill teaches students to sort through the details, find the most salient points and convey them quickly and concisely.  Current educational best practice requires us to do quick and constant checks for understanding of student learning.  Enter technological trailblazer Twitter.  For those of you who have a Twitter account you may know that a tweet is the encapsulation of a thought or event in 140 characters or less.  Some advanced Twitter users may use social media nomenclature like LOL or BFF to expand their comment but it is still a short quick snapshot.

While I was at Odyssey this week Josh Austin showed me how he used this concept in a recent lesson (above) to have students convey the message of the Declaration of Independence to King George III using Twitter methodologies.  Thanks for sharing Josh!

Co-Teaching The Gospel of Wealth

After having the opportunity to co teach a lesson with Steve West (not pictured above) at Apollo Middle School this week I certainly had an eye-opening experience.  The chosen text was Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth.  For those of you who have not read this, it is a very complex text in terms of the language that is used.  The topic of distribution of wealth is equally complex.  Mr. West and I laid out some of the “mental velcro” to help the students delve into the text with a purpose.  We focused on the large and difficult paragraph 4.  To help with the “text overload” Mr. West split the paragraph up into three sections and had students focus on each phrase and sentence until they built their understanding.  Great job Mr. West and thank you for allowing me to come in and be a part of it!

This is hard and rewarding work.