At least, that’s been the theory. Good social studies and history instruction has always included these things but I think that sometimes we can forget how critical reading and writing skills are to what we do. The Common Core, for better or worse, has been a good reminder for us. We need to have our kids read, write, and communicate much more.
But for the last ten years or so, at least in the state of Kansas, we’ve asked kids to focus instead on memorizing content. So now when we’re asking our middle school and high school students to not just write more but to use evidence while proving assertions, we get a lot of blank stares.
Steal a practice used by a lot of elementary teachers and start training your secondary kids to use evidence-based terms while writing.
Evidence-based terms are simple phrases that support the use of, well . . . evidence. So if we ask kids to look a couple of primary source documents and develop a thesis from their analysis, they have some scaffolding to help them do that.
A great activity I like to use with my students is called “Chicken Foot”.
They love the name.
It’s a good way to teach students to pick out the main points of a text, primary source document, picture, etc.
I learned this strategy at a Pre-AP Summer Institute I went to in 2010 in Norman, Oklahoma. After viewing the document, students write the main idea on the “leg”, then they pick three points or elements of the text that the students feel are super important and that everyone needs to know about the document. They write the three main points on the “toes” (if that’s what they are!). Continue reading Chicken Foot→
I had the privilege of working with 40 middle school social studies teachers last week. It’s the last few days of a three year Teaching American History grant and, yes . . . some teared up a bit towards the end. It’s been a great ride. We’ve all learned a ton – both content and pedagogy.
Last week, we enjoyed the sweetness of working with three history studs – Mark Fiege, Elliott West, and Thomas Andrews – while also learning more about the best ways to incorporate their history content into actual lessons.
Master Teacher Nathan McAlister walked us through a variety of learning activities including panning for gold, cutting up buffalo, and arguing pros/cons of fracking during a city council meeting.