Over the last few months, I’ve had the chance to be part of several teacher conversations focused on the integration of social studies and literacy. And for the last few years, I’ve had the chance to work with the Kansas Department of Education and Kansas teachers as we rolled out our revised state standards and assessments – both of which concentrate on finding ways for kids to read, write, and communicate in the discipline.
So while I am not some super duper ELA expert, I did think that I knew a little something about literacy tools. But I recently got a great wake-up call that let me know that there is always something new to learn.
I was doing some internet browsing for literacy activities and ran across references to something I had never heard of before. And it looks like an awesome tool to slip into your bag of tricks.
Today’s post is written by Cheney, Kansas middle and high social studies teacher Jill Weber. Jill is the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year.
Gone are the days in which reading novels and writing essays belonged solely in an ELA classroom. All subjects are now expected to (and should) be integrating and supporting the reading and writing skills that students are taught in Language Arts class.
“But, but . . . I went to college to be a history teacher, not an English teacher. I don’t know HOW to teach ELA!”
That was me. Seriously. I was ready to fight teaching reading and writing skills as long as I could.
This week’s post comes to you from Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS. I love all things Hamilton!
Spring Break History Nerdfest for the Topliff Family took us to lovely Kansas City and man, it was amazing. We took in the Negro League Baseball and National World War I Museums, looked out over the city atop the Liberty Memorial, and got our fill of great KC BBQ. (Thanks Arthur Bryant’s!) As we took in all of the great stories at the museums, my family and I discussed all the powerful stories of people who have impacted the story of us. So many people of our past never have their story told, primarily because they may not be seen as the big names of history.
Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy are names that will show up in every text book, but they are not the only influential people that have shaped our history. The story of us is filled with millions of ordinary people that might not have stories that flash off the page, but they are just as critical. This important part of telling history became the backbone for a project I created called The Historical Hall of Fame.
We want our students to grapple more with content, to think historically, and solve problems. One of the ways we can support this behavior is by asking our kids to think and write to support a claim using evidence.
Here in the great state of Kansas University basketball, our standards and assessment use the term “argumentative writing” to describe the process of supporting claims with evidence. That phrase can sound a little too much like some of last year’s presidential debates or this month’s childish Twitter wars but . . . asking kids to create an argument and to support that argument really is a good thing. We want them to be able to look at a problem, gather and organize evidence, and use that evidence to create a well-supported argument.
As many of us move from a content focused instructional model to one that instead asks students to use that content in authentic ways, it can sometimes be difficult knowing how to actually have them write argumentatively. But there are resources available to help with your lesson design.