Semester End Deadlines

The 15 week grades revealed that many of my 9th graders are having time management challenges. The purpose of this post is to provide clear expectations for all semester end projects and deadlines for all of my World History classes.

50 pts The Plot Against America Reading Log Dec. 7
100 pts The Plot Against America Character Time Line Dec. 7
100 pts Holocaust Survivor Poem Dec. 14
50 pts Video Notes Dec. 14
100 pts Holocaust Survivor Art Piece Dec. 14
50 pts Video Notes Dec. 14
100 pts Holocaust Survivor Essay-Speech Dec. 14
50 pts Video Notes Dec. 14
600 points for your final grade. Late work will not be accepted

Students in my class started reading The Plot Against America on Monday, October 26th. For the first week, students listened to the audio book as they read. After five days, I took the training wheels off and asked students to start keeping a daily log of what page numbers they read and to summarize what happened in a reading log.

Char Evo Timeline.jpg

A Character Evolution Timeline from Olson, Scarcella & Matuchniak (2015) requires a reader to review the sequence of events that occur in a text and to plot it out graphically, much like a storyboard. However, in the graphic display, the reader can chart a character’s changing emotions by selecting: (1) a facial expression to reveal the character’s emotions during key events; (2) a quote that illustrates why or how the character experiences this emotion; and (3) a symbol to characterize that emotion. Beneath the quote, the reader needs to write an interpretation of the impact of the event on the character in his or her own words. This exercise in character analysis and forming interpretations helps students detect motivation and bias in historical texts. Students must complete a character log on one of the characters from The Plot Against America with at least 10 events. The timeline (at least 10 events) and the reading log (with at least 20 entries) are due on December 72015 at 3:00 pm.

All my World History students will complete their study of the Holocaust by creating entries that commemorate a Holocaust survivor’s eyewitness testimony. Students must turn in annotated notes for the testimony that inspires each poem, essay, and art piece they complete. Some students may find it helpful to use Video Notes to organize their thoughts on each testimony.

PROMPT: As you listen to the oral testimony of a Holocaust survivor or rescuer, you may sense a change in tone that makes you stop and listen again. Something about the way the person speaks tells you that this memory matters in a special way. For the survivor or rescuer, this memory needs telling forward.

All entries and supporting materials are due by 3:00 pm on Monday, December 14th. Poem and Essay entries must be typed and in 12 point Times New Roman Font, single-spaced. Art and poetry entries must include a 100-word artist’s statement containing: the title of the work; the name of the survivor to whose testimony this work is a response, and a statement of how this work addresses the prompt. The name and class period of the person creating the entry should NOT APPEAR on the front of the entry. Keep all identifying information on the back of the entry.

View the contest’s complete rules here:

All entries will be blind judged by a panel of Kennedy teachers who will choose the top three entries that will be entered in Chapman University’s 17th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. Students will be eligible to win the first prize of $500 and the second prize of $250 in each category in the high school competition. The first place winner in each category, recipient’s parent/guardian and teacher are all invited to participate in an expense-paid study trip June 21-25, 2014, to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other sites in Washington D.C.

Websites for Survivor Testimonies

To understand the level of competition in this contest, please review these examples of Previous Winners. Please note that Dr. Petri has been known to generously award bonus points to students who turn in their projects ahead of schedule. Manage your time wisely.

LACOE PD Resources

Common Core Historical Writing Seminar

Scott M. Petri, LACOE

November 17, 2015

8:30 – Introductions

9:00 – Using Writing to Increase Reading Comprehension

MEAL and


Six Word Stories


Ryhming Tweets

Klemp and

Link to shared work:

10:15 – Historical Narrative

Colby – Energizing the Social Studies Classroom

Olson, Scarcella & Matuchniak (2015) Story Mountain

11:00 – Informative/Explanatory Writing

First Person Research Paper

Fitzhugh – Meaningful Work

Link to shared work:

12:00 – Lunch Break 45 min

12:45 – Argumentative Writing

A blank Vee Diagram and a completed Vee Diagram

Thesis Development

Believing/Doubting Game

Monte-Sano – What Makes a Good History Essay?

Link to shared work:

2:00 – Providing Feedback

Goal-setting Strategies

Whole Class Feedback

1:1 Conferences

Closing the Gap

Favorite Feedback: Fact & Fiction (Turnitin)

Kaizena – demo


Link to shared work:

3:00 – Robo-readers


Hemingway App

Paper Rater

Run student work through

Link to shared work:


Pearl Trees

Blog Tour


#NCSS15 Effective Feedback Presentation

Jackson Square photo

Corbin Moore and I did a presentation on Providing Effective Feedback at the National Council for the Social Studies annual meeting in New Orleans. Our presentation clarified some of John Hattie’s research on feedback.

Here are the slides for the presentation. Here is a list of resources that helped create this presentations.

Clarifying Hattie’s definition: Feedback happens after a student has responded to initial instruction, when information is provided regarding some aspect(s) of the student’s task performance. It is most powerful when it addresses faulty interpretations, not a total lack of understanding. Feedback can be accepted, modified, or rejected.

Feedback in classrooms was evaluated with a meta-analysis examining 196 studies and 6,972 effect sizes. The effect size was twice the average effect. To place this into perspective, feedback has one of the highest influences on student achievement in Hattie’s (1999) synthesis, behind direct instruction and reciprocal teaching.

While direct instruction and reciprocal teaching are complex instructional strategies that require a great deal of professional development, almost anyone can provide effective feedback. We see this on American Idol & The Voice every week. With regular practice all teachers can get better at providing suggestions for improvement, giving specific notes in the margins, and using examples (mentor texts), rubrics and criteria charts.

Turnitin has conducted research on the gap between what teachers and students perceive as effective feedback.


There are two short videos below that demonstrate concepts in the presentation.

Rubric Validation

Whole Class Feedback

Make Writing

Inspired by Angela Stockman’s new book Make Writing, today my students brainstormed ways they could demonstrate their knowledge of the historical novel The Plot Against America without writing to a prompt that I created for them.

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Pictures are posted below and my review on Angela’s new book will be published in a couple of days.

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Angela’s book turns conventional writing strategies and teaching upside down. She spills you out of your chair, shreds your lined paper, and launches you and your writers workshop into the maker space! Who even knew this was possible?

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Stockman provides five right-now writing strategies that reinvent instruction and inspire both young and adult writers to express ideas with tools and in ways that have rarely, if ever, been considered.

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Many schools are converting classrooms to maker spaces–vibrant places where students demonstrate learning by constructing things, using newly-acquired skills and applying newly-learned concepts.

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With inspired creativity and ingenuity, Stockman shows you how to bring modern maker moves into your writers workshop, giving birth to new environment  that rockets writers to places that were previously unimaginable.

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We will see how well my students’ projects on the Philip Roth novel turn out.

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#CHSSP25 Presentation


Spending a great day at UCLA for the 25th anniversary California History-Social Science Project. I presented with @raluevanos also known as Ruth Luevanos on Inspiring Reluctant Writers. While Ruth concentrated on word banks, sentence frames and tableaus, my section was devoted to writing strategies that strengthen higher order thinking methods used in argumentative and informative writing. As an added bonus, they are easy to add into your everyday classroom practices. This article describes the tension that History teachers have experienced trying to teach both content and literary skills.

Timeline Transitions

A very simple way to have students write background paragraphs. I used to fall into the lazy teacher trap of having students copy the timeline at the end of the chapter as a pre-reading strategy. I quickly learned that they learn nothing from this even though I positioned it as a pre-reading strategy. Then I added an annotation component, which helped a little. Now I give students the big, fat, hairy timeline and tell them they need to pick the five most important events and use them to write a background paragraph. They have a word bank and get a chance to practice transition words and phrases, which many lack. Then students can pair/share their paragraphs and discuss which events they thought were the most important.

SRSD Writing Strategies

More than 40 studies have validated SRSD as an instructional model for teaching writing to students with writing deficits. Developed by Harris & Graham (1992), this model integrates writing instruction, self-regulation strategies, and the development of positive student attitudes toward writing.

Studies of history classrooms reveal that writing instruction of any kind is uncommon, even among exemplary teachers. Thus, student essays tend to list facts rather than argue claims, leave arguments unexplained, and only draw on evidence sporadically.

MEAL Paragraphs

M.E.A.L. paragraphs are a method of writing strong paragraphs. This link shows you how to teach students to write a MEAL. and this link showcases some student work.

RAFT Paragraphs

As a general rule, a MEAL prompt is designed to help students analyze evidence to support an argument while a RAFT prompt requires students to inform/explain a historical topic to an audience.