The following is a guest post from Basehor-Linwood Middle School teacher Joe Zlatnik. Joe teaches 8th grade social studies at BLMS.
The concept of citizenship can be found throughout various social studies curricula. KSDE social studies standards are designed to “prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, engaged citizens…” and the National Council for the Social Studies C3 curriculum seeks to offer opportunities “for students to develop as thoughtful, engaged citizens.”
However, the steps to becoming a citizen are not clearly outlined. It is as if you become a citizen as a byproduct of going through these prescribed curriculums. I argue that one will not simply become an engaged citizen by completing a curriculum, but that students also need to have a way to decipher the ever-changing world we live in.
Being an engaged citizen today is, perhaps, more difficult now than it has ever been. The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite has given way to Fox News and MSNBC. We now live in a world with a 24-hour news cycle, multiple cable news channels, and a bias that is inherent in almost all the information that we receive.
As reporting has been replaced by editorializing, we find ourselves struggling to formulate our own opinions due to being overwhelmed by talking heads from across the political spectrum telling us what we should think. Developing a sense of citizenship amongst students, while daunting, is now more important than ever.
In an effort to improve the writing skills of my students and better prepare them for the Kansas Writing Assessment, the Multidisciplinary Performance Task, I have begun implementing the Stoplight Writing strategy. I attempted to use this strategy in my classroom last year, but as a last ditch effort before the test rather than a regular activity the students experienced throughout the entire school year.
This year however, my students are writing every unit using stoplight writing, and the dramatic difference in the finished products from last year to this year are extraordinary. Last year I feared that my 7th grade students didn’t know how to write a complete sentence, this year I am finding that my expectations for the students are too low and every unit I raise the standards for their finished work. Continue reading Stop! In the Name of…Writing?→
Deb Brown, a good friend from the Shawnee Mission, Kansas district, shared a statement with me several years ago and it’s rattled around in my head ever since.
“Primary sources belong to everyone. Not just the smart kids.”
I like that.
Something else she said caught my attention.
“Kids should read like a detective and write like an investigative reporter.”
With the new Kansas state standards in full force and the NCSS C3 document just out, this sort of thinking needs to part of every teacher’s world view.
Around the same time, Deb shared some of the things that teachers in her district were using to help kids make sense of all sorts of historical evidence. They fit perfectly into the first C of the 4C’s framework I’m developing for social studies teachers:
And using graphic organizers help meet Common Core literacy standards. So I’ve borrowed what she shared and put them together with a few other things to come up with a list of eight highly effective strategies. Together, they provide students with a variety of powerful data collection tools that they can use as they work to solve problems. Continue reading 8 sweet graphic organizers for primary sources→
Okay. Not an actual pie. Though that would be awesome!
But I did learn this very easy but very cool Pie Chart strategy from Nathan McAlister, 2010 Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year. It’s a great hook activity that’s awesome for either starting a conversation about a specific topic or as an assessment at the end of learning.
A few years ago, I was introduced to “Discrepant Event Inquiry” from Glenn Wiebe. (Here is another post about it from his History Tech blog). The idea is that you take an image and only reveal a little bit at a time. As I reveal a little bit of the picture, the students must guess Who is in the picture, What is happening, When was the photograph taken, and Where is this taking place. This encourages students to think outside the box and it also does WONDERS with questioning and how to ask the right questions. Naturally, I turned this into a competition. Continue reading How I use “Discrepant Event Inquiry” in my classroom→