3XCER Challenge

Thanks to the awesome work of Science teacher extraordinaire, Ariana Hernandez, I was inspired to try the three-way claim-evidence-reasoning challenge with my World History students who are studying Middle East conflicts. I found this great reading by Dr. Sawsan Jaber and asked my students to work in small groups to identify claims of fact, policy, and value

My student teacher Mr. Preston Becker created a Kahoot to help our students do some retrieval practice when learning the different types of claims. After a round of practice in teams, students were ready to dive into the reading. I modified Ariana’s template so that students could all work in the same document and I could monitor their progress. They were given 30 minutes to identify the three different claims and talk about whether or not there was a grande claim — the most important point in their reading. 

Instead of providing individual feedback to each group, I chose a sample and added comments so that students could see where they need to improve. 

10th grade World History student work example.

Where I highlighted in red, I commented that a claim of policy should be made by an institution, organization, or government. This sounds more like an opinion or claim of value. Where I highlighted in yellow, I mentioned that a claim of fact should be able to be proven or disproven. How would you do this? Lastly, for the claim of value, I asked what is an adjective you would use to describe this value-oriented behavior?

Students will use this challenge again to identify claims in their reading of I Am Malala or The Kite Runner. I know that their English teacher and Chemistry teacher both use this CER format in their classes and I hope students will see how easy it is to transfer their knowledge and skills in all subjects.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to ELA & History

I am always on the hunt for good historical fiction that makes my students connect with the era under study in my class. This week, I finally finished Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua. It’s a fantastic book by a well-respected author and could engage students in deep learning about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, however, the focus on the love life between the Chairman and Mei Xiang makes this book too cringey for me to assign to my class. This is honestly the first book where I have censored myself and I wonder if other social studies teachers feel similarly in this political climate, or if I am alone in this sentiment. 

Do you feel as if your school administration would stand up to parents who want to question or argue with you about your curricular choices?

Does today’s anti-teacher sentiment make you anxious about assigning academic work outside of your district textbook?

Should teachers team together on interdisciplinary approaches to teaching ELA & History in order to diffuse some of this tension? 

Join me on Twitter September 26, 2022 at 5 PT, 7 CT, or 8 ET to chat about this topic with the #sschat #sschatreads & #engsschat community. Bring your most controversial titles. We will be issuing merit badges.

Cybergeddon 22

This week began with a cyberattack on my district computer systems that made digital instruction all but impossible this week. Kids are locked out of everything. Resetting passwords was not easy. Without missing a beat, my students utilized our class sets of books. My 11th-grade USH students began reading Hellhound on His Trail and my 10th-grade World History students had a choice between I Am Malala or The Kite Runner. 

Corroboration

One of my favorite ways to get students reading for a purpose is a corroboration drill. I give students a finite amount of time to corroborate facts from their reading with the textbook. I teach them a simple format to emulate, essentially Source 1 says… Source 2 says … When these two facts are taken together they suggest…

This is a very difficult cognitive task that students struggle to complete. Last year, my tenth-grade students could do four corroborations per class period on average with a low of four and a high of twenty-seven over two class periods.

This student has mastered cited text, but they need a little more work on analyzing the two quotes and drawing a conclusion from them.
This next student makes a claim that the confederacy was supported by cotton, but does not explain that the textual evidence is from two different time periods: 1) the Civil War and 2) the 1960s. This suggests a problem with reading comprehension and understanding on their part. I need to follow up with them and make sure they understand that the textual evidence they have chosen can not be used to make a claim.

When I follow up and build on this lesson, I will need to provide better examples so that students learn to improve this skill with additional reps. Sentence starters will go a long way toward improving this type of student writing.

Retell in Rhyme

In World History, students were challenged to choose 10 unfamiliar words from off the whiteboard and write rhyming couplets that summarized their understanding of what they read in I Am Malala.

Since this was the first time students used this EduProtocol, I paired them up to make this a collaborative task. I was very pleased with the results, which contained important historical details and indicated a strong understanding of the material.

My goal was for students to complete 10 rhyming couplets in 30 minutes. Not everyone hit the goal. The 11th-grade USH students did a better job, but I think this was because they had used this EduProtocol last year and were more familiar with it. I am looking forward to coaching up my 10th graders and giving them more reps with Retell in Rhyme.

Middle East Conflict Lessons

It was a glorious, short week in Dr. Petri’s World History class because LAUSD has given us a four-day Labor Day weekend. My students continued learning about the Middle East. They finished their Flip videos on the History of Afghanistan.

Only 40/53 or 75% of my 10th-grade students turned these in, so I have some work to do in building a culture of completion. Toward this end, I’ve designed a follow-up peer review protocol so students can practice giving each other positive comments a la the feedforward book I’ve been reading by Joe Hirsch. 

After finishing that, students collaborated on a Middle East Wars Cyber Sandwich that taught them the basics of the Persian Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan. This led to a note-taking drill where I measured how many pages of notes students took while listening to the excellent This is Democracy Podcast. Students only slightly improved their note-taking when given the transcript compared to just listening.

For homework, they were asked to write five multiple-choice questions on the War in Afghanistan. I gave them a Quizizz template, so I could easily import questions into the gamified platform for some Fast and Curious reps next week. That will remind me to teach students about Ebbenghaus’ Forgetting Curve.

Lastly, we viewed a PBS Frontline documentary called Afghanistan Undercover which profiled the Taliban takeover and their subsequent treatment of women. Students completed a Sketch & Tell to record a memorable moment that stuck with them. I thought these samples showed significant maturity and depth of reasoning. I have great hopes for these students. It is early, but it is going to be a great year.

10th-grade student work sample.

First Two Weeks of School

I spent the first week of school giving my students seating challenges and teaching them to use EduProtocols. Each day students were put on the clock and asked to sit in a certain order. The goal here is to get them talking to each other and working as a team. As a bonus, I get to see who rises to the top as classroom leaders and which kids are happy to withdraw into a corner, whip out their cell phones, and tune out the world. At the end of the week, students met at least five people and learned about their screen time, birthday, shoe size, favorite band, and favorite movie.

EduProtocols

After the seating challenges, I trained students how to use four different EduProtocols. We did a Cyber Sandwich on Academic Recovery issues. An Iron Chef where students introduced themselves to the class. Another Cyber Sandwich on the ethics of being monitored. For variety, one class did a Number Mania on effective homework policies, while another used the Research EduProtocol. Which I stacked the next day so they could identify best practices with high school bathroom policies.

After discussing all of these issues, my classes were ready to write our social contracts which will become our rules for the year. Remind me to update my syllabi before my principal starts badgering me for them.

During the second week of school, I was ready to dive into World History content. We are starting with the War in Afghanistan this year as the one-year anniversary of the US withdrawal is coming up on August 30th and I always like to have my classes interview their parents about where they were during September 11th. This year’s unit will cover Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, post-WWI shifts in the geographic and political borders of the Middle East,  how the forces of nationalism developed in the Middle East, the Balfour Declaration, and the role of political ideology, religion, and ethnicity in shaping modern governments.

We started learning the History of Afghanistan by doing a 10% Summary of this 2,500-word timeline. Students struggled with this. The reading was too long to get through, plus they did not have enough knowledge of the subject to know which details were important and which weren’t. 

Students who turned in a 250-word summary

The next day, students created a 6-slide PowerPoint that they would use to supplement their oral report. They had more time to hit their goal of writing a 250-word summary. This was really an excuse to get them to practice with Microsoft Presenter Coach before recording their own 2-3 minute Flip Screencast. Once the videos are in, I will pair students so they can conduct a peer review using a success chart. This upcoming week, we will take a closer look at the modern wars in the Middle East with a Cyber Sandwich and use the 3X CER Challenge from Ariana Hernandez to analyze claims about these conflicts. Thanks to Angela Zorn and Adam Moler for pushing me to blog about my classroom routines again. It feels good!

Book Release

Hello Friends, I have been on a blog hiatus because I have been working on the Social Studies EduProtocols book with my new best friend, Adam Moler. We were asked to contribute to the fifth book in the EduProtocols Field Guide series. Adam provided a middle school History teacher’s perspective and student examples while I supplied lessons from my 10th grade World History, 11th grade US History, and AP Research classes.

Click here to purchase.

With the start of a new school year, I’m excited about chronicling a new crop of students’ EduProtocol journey. We have made new friends since the book has been released, been on podcasts, and hosted some Twitter chats, but what we really enjoy is elevating the work of teachers who are new to EduProtocols. Please share your student work with the #EduProtocols community on Twitter. Seeing your innovative approaches to engaging students in social studies instruction is worth more than book sales. Thank you for purchasing our book.

2021 Great Thanksgiving Listen

This is the fifth year I have had my students participate in The Great Thanksgiving Listen on StoryCorps. Last year, we were not allowed to assign any homework over the break due to COVID. This year students had two days in class to complete a timeline of their interview subject’s life and generate twenty interview questions. They only had to record a ten minute interview and do four pages of transcription over the Thanksgiving Break. When they came back to class, I gave them another two days to complete a corroboration (fact-checking) activity and a reflection. 

Forty-nine out of sixty-nine students or 71% completed all six parts of this project. Another six students turned in their work late. Ten students did not complete any part of the project. Over 650,000 Americans have participated in this project which records oral histories for the Library of Congress.  This is the second interview that my students have conducted this year and in their reflections I asked them to describe their favorite moments. Their comments are insightful, appreciative, and emotional. I am publishing six of their highlights. If you would like to read your child’s reflection, send me a message and I will send it to you. 

With masks on in every classroom, I feel like I don’t really know my students this year. Seeing their smiling faces with their interview subjects was a gift that made my teacher heart smile. I hope families will return to these oral histories again and again. Thank you for sharing the gift of your family with Kennedy High School . 

Children’s Book Projects

For the past few weeks, my tenth grade World History students have been learning about the Mexican Revolution. They read The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela in their ELA class, and in my class they viewed the PBS documentary The Storm That Swept Mexico, learned about La Soldaderas, and researched and wrote children’s books on important events and leaders from the Revolution.

Almost every student completed this project on time and they were given multiple chances to revise and resubmit a perfectly formatted annotated bibliography of five sources for their book. I taught them how to use The Hemingway App and Rewordify to help paraphrase their text. Students could work in groups or independently, the only rule was each student had to produce six pages of content.

The top three entries were chosen by BookCreator to be displayed in their instructional libraries. I am so proud of these students.

https://read.bookcreator.com/cgkm1YQFihcaV9mXXkOebPP6AkP2/o9_ZKSGnT4CqU0eFLXNzXQ

https://read.bookcreator.com/b9ooRapSmdYBSQy2QUPCWgnSJ9m2/vGs6TpavQpy-E5Y0DnaHtg

https://read.bookcreator.com/6rWnNn5Zz6aOpssaM2mAZALlJhx2/vP5iwXKiTriIR65rcGLTCw

To take a look at ALL OF the books, click through this spreadsheet.

At the end of the 15 week grading period, my students have earned 35 (As), 15 (Bs); 9 (Cs); 4 (Ds); and 7 (Fs). Please ask your child to share their book project with you and celebrate their creative accomplishments.

Coming up next. The Great Thanksgiving Listen.

French Revolution Presentations

My 10th grade World History students recently completed a speaking project where they were asked to narrate sketchnotes on the French Revolution or complete an Ignite Talk using 20 slides. The goal of this project was to get them to speak on an aspect of the French Revolution and make it entertaining to an audience of teenagers.

I used excerpts of Well Spoken (pp. 17-54) by Erik Palmer and this worksheet from teacher Erin Rigot to help students understand the importance of a grabber opening, an organizational strategy, signposts, and a powerful closing.

Almost 80% of my students completed a Narrated Sketch Note or Ignite Talk (55/70) within five days. Here are what I assessed as the top four, using the following rubric.

Narrated Sketch Note Project

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/65e57be2?embed=true

This student designed her speech for a teenaged audience perfectly. She used high-interest terms like True Crime, Netflix, using Googling as a verb, and living like Jeff Bezos. The key points about the Guillotine and French Revolution were understandable and entertaining. She made several clear connections to this audience when she made references to #vegetarian, and fangirling.

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/fc7e3e24?embed=true

The next student clearly designed her speech for a teenage audience by asking students what it would be like to be treated fairly. She explains the plight of the Third Estate and connects with the audience with via her cartoons, which were perfectly timed and entertaining.

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/536f51a7?embed=true

The third student gets the audience on his side by making fun of not only me, but also our school principal, Dr. Chavez. He uses us to illustrate the problems France had with inequality. Who says I don’t have a thick skin?

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/d0fd0b0e?embed=true

The fourth student uses a surprising statistic to open her speech and helps students understand the mountain of debt France had before the Revolution. She does a wonderful job explaining the concept of absolutism and the divine right of kings. She had minimal text on her slides. Je l’aime! Keep up the good work, World History students. Next year, my students will be learning from you.

listenwise book review

Monica Brady-Myerov has created a wonderful educational platform that teaches students to improve their listening using audio stories that cover content standards in Science, ELA, and Social Studies. She and her team have refined Listenwise over the years to precisely measure students and their progress at mastering eight key listening skills. With the recent inclusion of the Lexile Framework for Listening, I expect this area to increase in educational importance. California is one of 22 states that assesses listening on their annual tests. Listening is especially important to English Learners who will make up one out of every four public school students by 2025. The combination of reading and listening builds their second language proficiency faster. Students gain confidence with their pronunciation when they hear the words spoken correctly.

Monica describes what she has learned along the way. She covers topics like storytelling, listening skills, how to teach listening, the connections between listening and reading, the benefits of listening for English Learners, assessing listening, and creating podcasts. In short, good listeners become great communicators. Peppered with personal stories, lessons, activities, reflection prompts, and planning tools; this book is a must for all interested in improving their communication skills. The author shines when she elaborates on her life-long love affair with the intimacy of audio and when advising teachers not to underestimate the impact of using their voices to read to students at any age. What does a future driven by voice-activated artificial intelligence sound like? Alexa, Siri, and Google have all read this book and so should you.

Full disclosure: I contributed an educator’s story on p. 174.

When I first started using Listenwise in my classroom, I noticed that almost every high school student would reach for their phone as soon as I hit play on the audio. However, when I prompted them on how important it was to listen intently and with 100% focus, their test scores started soaring. Typically, I read between 30-40 books per year. During the last year, with the pandemic, I learned how easy it was to get distracted and only read 6 books. This shameful fact reveals how dependent I have become on listening to books in the car. This book is already helping me sit down, tune out distractions, and put my focus back on reading every day. Still, I wish there was an audio version.

Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers