Let the live blogging from the 94th annual NCSS conference begin. I took the redeye out of LA last night and ran into an old high school friend whom I hadn’t seen in 29 years on the plane. It’s a small BIG world after all. I have fond memories of Boston’s Logan Airport, because that is where I met my wife due to a snowstorm flight delay back in 1998.
Tomorrow at 9:00 am EST, I present on Innovative Social Studies Strategies in Room 310 at the Hynes Convention Center. This post will house all of the documents and lessons that I reference in my presentation. Feel free to download and repurpose them. Teachers are the best recyclers. You may view and use the slides to my presentation.
My topics are 1) Goal-setting approaches to student writing; 2) peer review (with or without tech); and 3) using social media as a prewriting strategy. I should probably acknowledge that I have stolen everything here from smarter people.
Goal-setting approaches to student writing
I wrote a paper on the results that happened after implementing this program at two high schools. I give this presentation to inspire teachers to consider alternative grading methods and increase the number of writing assignments they require of their students. I have found that over the course of the year my students can double, if not triple the amount of words they put on a page in one class period. The next trick is to partner with an English teacher, who can help them take the quantity they are now proficient in and turn it into quality writing. I have found that this level of competition really motivates students. This work has borrowed heavily from Chip Brady and the excellent curriculum at The DBQ Project, who provided inspiring professional development and encouraged me along the way.
Peer review with tech
Many high quality studies influenced my decision to start evaluate student writing quantitatively, De La Paz, S. (2005), De La Paz, S., & Felton, M. (2010), Monte-Sano (2008, 2011) and (Monte-Sano & De La Paz, 2012). I strongly feel that History/Social Science departments should report descriptive statistics about their students’ writing in order to derive a common set of writing expectations by age and grade level. Further, recent advances in automated essay scoring may make it possible for students to receive feedback from a computer before approaching the teacher to partner in improving the writing together. See this Lightside Labs Revision Assistant video and feel free to expand on this annotated bibliography tracking the major players in the automated essay scoring market. K12 teachers should provide input to the companies developing these products and the lefty-Liberal in me hopes all of these products will eventually be open source.
Peer review without tech
Most of the work I reference here came from O’Toole (2013), Brookhart (2013), and Bardine and Fulton (2008). Learning by evaluation has long been used by English teachers, it is time for history teachers to embrace the practice. If the CCSS are truly able to get us off the breadth vs. depth Historical coverage treadmill, History/Social Studies teachers are going to need tools and strategies to assess the writing they assigned. Having students read each other’s writing gives them much needed context. Before I wrote my dissertation, I read dozens of others on the same subject. History teachers will need to learn how to use mentor texts and provide general feedback instead of making margin notations on every paper they receive. English teachers have used peer rubrics and criteria charts to help students with their writing. It is time for history teachers to start incorporating those tools into their classrooms.
Social media as a prewriting strategy
Back in August, I gave a full description of the Twittercide of Socrates. My students were extremely motivated by this assignment and turned in an average of 250 words per essay. I also created an assessment where the tweets were mixed up and asked the students to put them back into sequential order by what happened before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial.
Please check back, as I will add more resources to this page as readers share tips and best practices. Lastly, if you would like to serve as a member of the instructional community, please fill out this form.