Reading & Writing in Social Studies

Integrating Listening, Speaking & Writing in the Social Studies Classroom

Los Angeles County of Education

November 13, 2018

Here is the deck for the workshop.

8:30 – Reading in Social Studies

  • Bob Bain video
  • Increasing Student Reading in class
  • CommonLit
  • text sets
  • historical fiction & non-fiction

9:00 – Daily Writing Tasks

  • Calendar Conversations
  • SEL Quickwrites & Student Reflections
  • Summarizing & Paraphrasing
  • Corroborating
  • Annotated Bibliographies (mini-research projs)
  • Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD)

9:45 – 10:00 Break

10:00 – Narrative Writing

  • The Power of Narrative
  • First Person Research Papers
  • Vietnam Veteran Interviews

11:00 – Informative/Explanatory Writing

  • Timeline Transitions
  • Twitter as a pre-writing summarization tool
  • Six word stories/bios
  • RAFT writing

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch

12:30 – Argumentative Writing

  • LOOP Writing
  • Believing & Doubting Game
  • MEAL paragraphs

1:45 – 2:00 Break

2:00 – Giving Feedback on Student Writing

  • Self-Review
  • Peer Review
  • Rubric Calibration
  • Road test the Robo-readers

 

Listening & Speaking Workshop

Integrating Listening, Speaking & Writing in the Social Studies Classroom

Los Angeles County of Education

Tuesday, November 6, 2017

Here is the presentation for today’s workshop. Feel free to make a copy and repurpose it for your instructional program. 

8:30 – Listening Instruction

  • Teacher Survey
  • Overview of Research
  • Julian Treasure – RASA
  • Listenwise

9:30 – Listening Drills

  • 15 Minute History – Scramble for Africa
  • Note-Taking Drill
  • Quizizz Formative Assessment

9:45 – 10:00 Break

10:00 – StoryCorps

  • The Great American Listen
  • One Small Step
  • 9/11 Oral History Project
  • Vietnam Veteran Interview

10:30 – Socratic Smackdown

  • Social Darwinism & Laissez-Faire American Capitalism
  • Rules/Scoring
  • Coach/Instant Reply Cards

11:00 – Discussion Models (whole class, small group, individual)

  • Constructive Conversation Skills
  • Historical Talking Tools
  • Speaking Scaffolds (Confidence Monitor/Teleprompter)
  • Classroom to Classroom Video-conferencing

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch

12:30 – Civil Conversation

  • Social Darwinism & Laissez-Faire American Capitalism
  • Tracking conversations
  • Reflection/Debriefing
  • Curriculum Library

1:00 – Creating Speaking Assignments

  • ACOVA
  • PVLEGS
  • Flipgrid

1:45 – 2:00 Break

2:00 – Assessing Speeches

  • Progressivism & Imperialism
  • Openings – SignPosting Language – Closings
  • Rubrics

Improving Speech Openings

Author Erik Palmer is fond of saying “Most teachers don’t teach speaking, they assign speaking!” As a History teacher, I have been guilty of that in the past, but thanks to Chapter 5 (pp.35-44) in Well Spoken, now I have some tools that help me TEACH speaking techniques that help students become better orators.

well-spoken-cover

For this assignment my 11th grade US History students will research an Imperialist-Progressive event/person and create an Ignite Talk that explains how that person is an example of a Progressive leader/movement or Imperialist leader-event-action. Presenters get 11 slides (no more than 5 words on each slide), which automatically advance every 15 seconds. The last slide must be a Works Cited card.

As part of my direct instruction, I include this presentation which contains numerous resources that help my students practice writing and sharing grabber openings, identify signpost language, and execute strong closings. Students have one class period to discuss the techniques, choose one, and write their opening. They post these on a discussion board so that I can read and react to them individually before the next day in class. Because they are short (50-100 words), it is easy for me to read them and offer some advice for revising. 

Palmer offers eight different grabber openings in the excerpt I give to my students: 1) the challenge, 2) the provocative question, 3) the powerful quote, 4) the surprising statistic, 5) the unusual fact, 6) the poignant story, 7) the unexpected, and 8) the teaser. If a student doesn’t apply one of these techniques in their speech opening, I know they haven’t done the assigned reading. Another benefit of having all of these openings in an open forum like a discussion board is so I can spot trends and see what they are struggling with. The majority of my students used #2 the “Provocative Question” technique. Many struggled applying the technique to their topic and I needed to provide additional clarification the next day in class.

First, I googled the definition: A provocative question. Provocative questions are those that encourage a stakeholder to think creatively and laterally. They help to uncover any perceived constraints, and can help to evaluate whether those perceived constraints are real or imaginary. Next, I found another blog that provided 10 more examples of provocative questions. Then, I refined the definition to make it more specific to this assignment — informing an audience about a Progressive or Imperialist person, event, or action in US History.  A Provocative Question challenges the beliefs your audience holds about progressivism or imperialism and helps them think differently about the topic in order to improve their understanding.

Below are three examples of my students’ work. I am interested in knowing which sample you would rate as above the standard, which you would rate as meeting the standard, and which you would rate as below the standard.

Sample A

How would most of you feel, if your country fought for its freedom from one country only for another to take its place? Would you fight for your country’s freedom or let them rule over you? Well, Emilio Aguinaldo born in the Philippines on March 23, 1869, fought against the Spaniards and the Americans for Philippines independence. In 1896 and 1897, he attempted to resurrect the Philippine during the Spanish rule however, he ultimately failed.

Sample B

Let’s say one of your peers was nothing out of the ordinary, doing exactly what you do in school. However, they are favored by an administrator as they have wealthy parents, and follow and enforce everything said administrator has said and asked them to do. But the thing is, this administrator is not employed at your school, they actually work at a far superior, private school. Other schools and the one you attend wish to be like this school and take what they say seriously. So when the administrator advocates for your peer and says that they should become the Student Body President, that they should “rule the school” there is no other choice. Adolfo Diaz was a Nicaraguan president that served for two separate terms. He was only placed in his position of power because he fell under what the U.S. government’s standards were for a good ally. Because he followed what the U.S. told him to do and became their puppet, the U.S. effectively ruled a country that they should have had no power over. 

Sample C

Have you ever experienced an instance where someone you trusted turned their back on you and took your enemy’s side instead? How would you feel if you were put in that situation? Would your perspective on that person change? Well, General Victoriano Huerta, did just that. He betrayed his successor, Francisco Madero, forcing him to resign his presidency, in order for Huerta to take charge and initiate a military dictatorship. Huerta’s tyrannical way of ruling caused opposition to his rule and ultimately led to his downfall.

Please leave your opinion and some justification for that opinion in the comment section below. Thanks again to Erik Palmer for pushing my thinking about how to teach speaking in Social Studies. I love using your work in my classroom.

Listening & Speaking PD

Integrating Listening & Speaking into Social Studies Instruction
Glendale Unified School District
October 9 & 10, 2018

12:00 – Listening Instruction

  • Teach Listening First
  • Julian Treasure – RASA
  • Listenwise
  • 15 Minute History
  • Find content for your class

12:30  – StoryCorps

  • One Small Step
  • Vietnam Veteran Interviews
  • 9/11 Oral History Project

1:00 – Socratic Smackdown

  • Emoluments Clause
  • Scoring Coach Cards
  • Grading standards-based reflections

1:30 – Civil Conversation

  • Curriculum Library
  • Reflection/Debriefing

2:00 – Creating Speaking Assignments

  • Discussion Models (whole class, small group, individual)
  • Speaking Scaffolds (Confidence Monitor/Teleprompter)
  • ACOVA

2:30 – Assessing Speaking Assignments

  • PVLEGS
  • Flipgrid

The presentation can be accessed and copied here.

Gender Bias in High School History

I tried an experiment in my high school World and US History classes that was inspired by Dr. Bob Bain, the highly esteemed professor from the University of Michigan. I have seen Dr. Bain speak several times and was intrigued with an experiment which roughly prompts students with: an alien from another galaxy sits next to you at Starbucks, he/she turns to you and says tell me about the history of your planet.

Since I teach high school sophomores (World History) and juniors (United States History), I couched this approached a little differently because I thought an hour-long writing assignment would be alienating (pun intended). On the first day of school, I asked my students to draw a map of the World or United States from their memory. On the second day of school, I asked my students to list the Top 10 most important events in World or US History. Interestingly, this resulted in 66 events in WH and 65 events in USH. There were no significant differences between classes.

On the third day of school, I tell students that because they exceeded my expectations with the previous assignment I am doubling what I expect from them. I ask students to write down the Top 20 most important people in World or US History. This causes frenzied discussion, as many students struggle to come up with 20 names. I give my students 10 minutes for this task (2 minutes per name). After they are done with their list, I ask them to count up how many men are on the list and compare it to how many women are on the list.

Image result for gender bias

On average, students in each class period listed 13 men and three women. This generated a nice discussion on the role of gender bias in History. I let my students know that they have a lot of freedom to do inquiry projects and independent investigations in this class, they need to pick the stories they tell carefully. They are responsible for writing history for the next generation. Do they want to continue to under-represent women in high school textbooks?

A 1984 study by M.K Tetrealt of US history textbooks revealed that the text allotted to references to women added up to less than one page. A closer look at another book showed that in more than 1,000 pages, there were four illustrations of men for every one of a woman and that less than three percent of the text was about women (Gospe, 2015). As California adopts new textbooks in 2018, I wonder how much these stats have changed?

Sharing Blended Learning Outcomes

After attending Jay Sorenson‘s Station Rotation presentation yesterday at CUE Rockstar Minarets, I was inspired to take another look at my data from my first year blending in a 1:1 classroom. This post was originally published by my school district in 2013 but has since disappeared from their website. I’m re-posting to help me reflect on which learning variables I should collect data on next year as I continue to shift towards personalized learning and mastery grading.

As I continue to evolve as a blended learning educator, I decided to try and measure some of the effects of blended learning with my students. In a previous post, I documented how incorporating blended learning assignments into my traditional classroom raised my course passage rate by 50%. In this piece, I compare student performance along two, 10-week periods. The first was predominantly blended, or 1:1 iPad-based instruction, the second was predominately textbook-centric, or traditional paper and pencil-based instruction.

Armed with a proliferation of digital instructional resources, high-speed internet and inexpensive devices, many educators are combining online instruction with regular classroom instruction to improve students’ learning experiences. Staker and Horn (2011) classify blended learning as a formal education program where students learn, at least in part, through online delivery of content and instruction. Students have some level of control over time, place, path, and/or pace of instruction. Part or all of the instruction is delivered away from home in a supervised, brick-and-mortar location. This blending of online and face-to-face instruction is expected to be standard practice in the future (Murphy, Snow, Mislevy, et al., 2014). The purpose of this article is to inspire conversation as to how educators can evaluate whether or not blended learning actually improves student outcomes in their classrooms.  What variables should be examined? Can quasi-experimental studies be set up as individual action research projects without disrupting business as usual in the classroom?

It was in this spirit, that I compared my blended classroom to my traditional classroom along four factors: (a) classwork completion; (b) homework completion; (c) assessment scores; and (d) course averages. Five random samples of classwork, homework, and assessments were analyzed for each 10-week period.

Table 1 (N=127) Blended Classroom Traditional Classroom
Classwork Completion Percentage 0.77 0.70
Homework Completion Percentage 0.71 0.63
Assessment Means 50.355 52.565
Course Averages 64.85 67.42

Students in this sample completed more of the blended classwork assignments and more of the blended homework assignments. Assessment scores were similar, however, traditional instruction netted slightly higher means. Course averages were also similar, yet traditional classroom instruction had a slightly larger mean. I am not sure what this finding of higher engagement and participation, yet lower achievement signifies, but I will spend time reflecting on it.

Traditional Learning

The purpose of this post was to provide educators switching from the traditional classroom role to a blended role with some data points for comparing their experiences. These results may not be as valid as those from a large-scale study, however, as more 1:1 educators compare their student outcomes, we will learn what outcomes to expect and gather valuable context to evaluate which practices are the most effective. In order to do that, we need front-line teachers to document their practices, collect data, and disseminate it.

Teaching in a 1:1 environment was novel, challenging, and frustrating at times, but best of all it was fun.  My students loved using technology and I enjoyed experimenting with new tools. Students read more, wrote more, viewed more historical content, and took more field trips to historical sites (even if they were virtual trips). In short, going 1:1 turned my classroom into a student-centered, active learning, historical thinking adventure. The entire experience rejuvenated my teaching. I can’t wait for the next school year. I suppose that’s a significant enough outcome for me.

Improving Inquiry

I’m looking forward to attending Jay Sorenson’s CUE Rockstar presentation on using the Question Formulation Technique. Rothstein & Santana (2011) devised a protocol that helps students improve their questioning skills, something that needs to be explicitly taught before embarking on inquiry projects in Social Studies. In my high school class, I found that my students could generate between 2-13 questions with the average student generating 6 questions in five minutes. These numbers increase over time with consistent practice using the protocol. The QFT can also be done in small groups, which helps students learn to collaborate and build off each other’s ideas.

QFT_NATIONALISM

I experimented with the QFT this summer and was unimpressed by the effort students put forth and the quality of the questions they asked. When I return to school for the fall semester, I am going to begin QFT activities by playing a related story on Listenwise before posing a focus question to the class. I am hopeful that this will help students generate more sophisticated critical thinking and better questions.

Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing how other teachers are developing one-period inquiry projects in their classes.