Argumentative Writing Bonus Links

Hi MOOCers,

I have been worried that this week’s unit didn’t have enough how to and that many of you would not find it as useful as I would like. It’s amazing how when you are pondering something in your subconscious and then the universe responds and fills the vacuum. The links below were all sent to me from the Twitterverse. I hope they will fill any gaps in argumentative writing instruction.

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I am very pleased with the amount of sharing and connecting that is happening on the discussion boards. So far only ten of you have taken the quiz, which has an average of 6.56 questions right and takes ten minutes of time. Consider this a gentle nudge to finish up the module so you can enjoy Super Bowl Sunday.  The informative writing module opens on Monday morning. Have a great weekend. — Scott

Bonus Links

ACRE (Argument, Clarity, Repetition, Evidence)

Claims, Evidence, Reasoning

Erik Palmer video on Argumentation

Good Speaking & Listening

Eric Palmer’s quality work inspired me to give my students a speech project.

Free webinar on Deepening & Widening the Way we teach writing in K-5.;F:QS!10100&ShowKey=23625&partnerref=EBLAST

Reinventing Writing chat on Twitter this Saturday morning: The nine tools that are changing writing, teaching, and learning. Mark your calendars for a great #satchatwc 1/30 at 7:30 am PST w/ guest host, Vicki Davis, aka @coolcatteacher

Making Sense of Evidence

MOOC Week Three

Hello Everyone, all 423 MOOC participants.

As we finish up Week Two and begin Week Three, I want to remind everyone that this is an ungraded class. The actual grades that you get on the quizzes do not count, all that matters is that you complete them and participate in all of the discussion forums in order to earn your completion certificate. Also, even though the courses are arranged into weekly modules, you do not need to complete everything during that week. All of the required elements need to be completed by February 22. Then on Monday, February 23, the last module containing the certificates will open. So if you started the course late, don’t panic, there is still plenty of time to get through everything.

Quiz Results: Many of you aren’t using the full 30 minutes to search for the reading to find the answers. That is the best way to increase your scores.

Quiz Results

No shout-outs, or brownie points this week, but I loved the discussions on the robo-graders. I thought that everyone was able to articulate his or her opinions professionally and courteously. Regardless of how passionate someone felt pro or con, there were no personal attacks and petty bickering. I guess that is the difference in teaching teachers versus teaching high school students. I am noticing a little participation fatigue between Week One and Week Two. Week One had an average of 47 participations per day and 798 page views per day. During Week Two this slipped to 29 participations per day and 522 page views per day. Both weeks have had the lowest activity on Saturdays. It’s almost like teachers think they deserve a day off.


As we venture into argumentative writing this week, I would like to share a current assignment that my 9th & 10th grade World History students have been assigned. This is a culminating essay for our unit on the Holocaust. Students must argue which humanitarian deserves an award for saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust. It relates to the essential question for this unit, Would you risk your life to save others? What would influence your decision? I am borrowing a format I saw used by @Pomme_Ed. I’ve seen it called a Video Based Question, or Digital Based Question and it can easily be shared with students via Google Drive. I welcome your comments and feedback. Feel free to make a copy of the assignment and modify it for use with your students.

This week we have four readings, a quiz on the featured reading, three resources, three pages of videos, and three discussions. Again, I’d like to discourage you from binge viewing. I think letting yourself reflect for a day results in better discussions. Also on Twitter, we have a small, but mighty group of 20 students of 423 students. . Use #HistRW to share resources with MOOC participants. Consider following your classmates on Twitter. A lot of great ideas are shared during #sschat, #TeachWriting, #WHAPchat, and #sstlap.

  1. Tips and resources that were shared last week were:
  2. Prewriting: Why Should Students Go It Alone? via @Catlin_Tucker #HistRW
  3. Special Journal Issue on #MOOC Read all about it. … #edtechchat #edchat #HistRW
  4. Historical Thinking – Teaching with Primary Sources … #HistRW
  5. Three lessons from the science of how to teach writing | Education By The Numbers: … #HistRW
  6. Three lessons from data on the best ways to give feedback to students  #HistRW
  7. Peer Review: 5 Tips and a Bunch of Tools to Make It Work When It Doesn’t. … #HistRW

Please consider following your classmates on Twitter. A lot of great ideas are shared during #sschat, #TeachWriting, #WHAPchat, and #sstlap.




















Providing Feedback

Hi Everyone,  

This post is for the 411 participants in the MOOC Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers.  Thanks to many of you that filled out my TEO Survey. Here are the results so far.


We start module two on a high note wrapping up some great conversations from Week 1. We had 119 introductions; 76 conversations posted in writing about writing, 41 discussions about SRSD instruction, and about 51 discussions about detecting plagiarism. I use the number of active discussions to tell me how many of the 411 teachers enrolled in the class are actually participating.

This week, we will start with some videos on providing feedback. These videos are tagged elementary, secondary, and college. Feel free to view the one that would be most helpful to your subject. Don’t feel obligated to watch all three.

We will continue our dialogue about the difficulty in providing effective feedback. There are some short pro and con articles about robo-graders, or automated essay scoring systems, which I hope will spark a spirited, yet civil debate on our discussion boards. Our featured reading is followed by a short, 10-question quiz. Dr. Christian Schunn, who offers a guest lecture on a web-based peer review program has offered to give us complimentary access to Peerceptiv during the course of the MOOC.  However, in order to use it we would need to generate some mentor texts and conduct multiple peer reviews as an assignment. I am worried about assigning too much work and scaring people off.

A couple of highlights on the discussion board were from Jennifer Brown, who is trying to wrap her head around why students plagiarize, librarian Lorraine Saffidi who asked “How can students be expected to express in their own words a complex idea they only partially understand?”  And Wesley Lohrman, who wrote: “History teachers can work to eliminate plagiarism by requiring students to incorporate a variety of text and push students to analyze what they are reading, compare and contrast text, and build opportunities with the classroom for students to discuss ideas and build their own concepts related to the current history learning targets.”

Overall, I am very impressed with the quality of the participation and I have enjoyed chiming in.  It is not too late for anyone to log in and participate in the Week One discussions. Remember, you need to participate in all of the course discussions to earn the certificate at the end of the course.

Tweeted in Class.

Here are some of the interesting items I found on Twitter this week and shared with MOOC participants under #HistRW. These pieces were authored or shared by course participants. Feel free to follow me @scottmpetri and connect with participants from the course.

Why do I have to teach writing in my 8th Grade American History?

World History Teachers Blog: M.A.I.N. Causes of WWI Video

How do students regard feedback from their teachers

Interesting Summer PD Seminars

Charts that help writers distinguish idea generation from idea execution

A non-freaked out approach to the core

Revising bit by bit

That’s it for now. I hope you are enjoying the course.  Cheers. Dr. P.

MOOC Launches Jan 12

Hello Course Participants, all 345 of you,

I have noticed that many of you have been signing up for blog updates before the course starts on Monday, January 12th. Yay! I am excited about the launch of the course. I am Dr. Scott Petri, your instructional co-host for Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers. I want to welcome you to the MOOC and describe the overall format of the course.

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As schools and districts implement the Common Core, we know that all teachers need to become writing teachers. Unfortunately many History & Social Studies teachers have not had sufficient instruction or practice in historical writing. Very few teacher professional development seminars focus on this topic. I hope this MOOC demystifies the writing process and encourages you to increase the amount of writing you assign in your classroom.

Each week, there will be an introductory lecture explaining the theme of the module. A featured reading, or series of readings on the topic. A quiz on the reading. Then outside video lectures and resources that will elaborate on the topic and assist you with implementation. Lastly, discussion board prompts will help you apply the content to your classroom practices.

Please understand, I am a classroom teacher, not a professional broadcaster. You are not going to get top-end production values in my video lectures. The resources in this MOOC were collected on the journey I have taken over the last five years as I have moved from fill in the bubble testing to assigning more authentic writing tasks as assessments. I do not consider myself “the expert” on this subject and the resources curated here are a mere fraction of what is available on the internet to help you introduce more writing into your classroom. A Japanese proverb states “one of us is not as smart as all of us” This sums up a key benefit of the MOOC format. It is participatory and collaborative. With several hundred participants contributing, you are bound to find something that moves your thought process and improves your practice.

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I encourage you to share your resources, techniques, and systems with our course participants. It has been my experience that teaching is all too often a solitary act. Connecting with a supportive community of educators that encourages experimentation and innovation is, quite frankly, what is missing from many school site or district professional development programs. I hope we can create that type of community within this course. Thanks for joining us. I look forward to meeting you on the discussion boards.