May The Frayer Model Live Forever

The Frayer model helps students build a deeper understanding of social studies topics, vocabulary words, and concepts. The flexible four-quadrant format makes it easy to quickly adapt Frayer lessons for whatever students are learning about in your class.

In the past, I have used the Frayer model so that students could evaluate the successes and failures of the individual figures we are studying. Here are some examples with WWII Spies. My students have used the Frayer model to compare similarities and differences between other exciting topics like — economists. I like to use this template when asking students to identify stages in the Hero’s Journey or when characterizing a historical figure as a particular Archetype. I have even used it to get students to reflect on their work habits and grade in my class.

Recently, I modified a Frayer deck for students to use to write interview questions that they could ask a Holocaust survivor. I told them that I was looking to see evidence that they had learned significant details from our video lectures. I asked the students to use these Bloom’s question starters. Specifically, I wanted them to think deeply and write at least four questions for each stage with a total of twenty-four questions. After they finished, they presented them to a thought partner. Each team identified and highlighted the three best questions, which they posed to Rose Schindler, whose testimony was recorded by Story File. Here’s an example.

Many of my students spoke about this assignment during their student-led conferences. I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of their questions and the depth of knowledge they reported gaining from this project. Thank you, Dorothy Frayer. May your model live forever! To see more examples of the Frayer Model in Social Studies, pick up our book.

Book Review: AI For Educators

Matt Miller makes many provocative statements in his latest book AI For Educators. One of the first comes from Dr. Kai-Fu Lee who claims that “We {societies} overestimate what technologies can do in five years. We underestimate what they will be able to do in twenty years” (Miller, 2023, p. 7). This made me want to go back and judge every major innovation in the last century.

Later in the book, Miller offers another juicy quote that resonated with me. Sherry Turkle states “We expect more from technology and less from each other” (p. 111). Wow! What a truism. As a classroom teacher, I constantly see students who would rather spend time on their phones instead of interacting with each other. My job is to create activities that require them to interact and engage in tasks that make them read, speak, listen, and write about what they’ve learned. My AP Research students are seniors in high school and their single worst habit is their inability to pick up the phone, call someone, and ask for help. I wonder how AI can facilitate this, or will AI make social isolation worse before it gets better?

Interestingly, the College Board and the International Baccalaureate programs have very different views of on using AI in education. This makes me wonder who will change their views first? How will these programs look in 10 years?

Overall, your reaction to this book will depend on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. If you believe AI will inspire students to be more creative and advanced with their critical thinking, you are going to dive in, explore, and share the responsible use of AI with your students. If you think the glass is half empty, you are going to try to police AI, shield your students from it, and run away from it. You will probably become more and more disillusioned with education and maybe even wind up leaving the field.

Miller acknowledges AI has biases built in (p. 18). Educators are going to need to be hyper-aware of these flaws and specifically plan lessons that address diversity, inclusion and equity, not to mention SEL concerns. If you are looking for a starting place to learn about the implications of using AI in education, this is an excellent one. If you want to learn more before purchasing the book, view this YouTube discussion Miller hosted.

Nacho Paragraph & Archetypes

Are you looking for an advanced critical-thinking activity that helps students practice transferring funds of knowledge from one subject to another? The Archetype Four Square EduProtocol can help students use what they already know about mythic structure to deepen their analysis skills and make additional connections with other figures they have studied in history.

The College Board has reported that one of the most challenging tasks on their exams is making connections between historical figures and periods. When students view historical figures as human beings with common struggles, they connect those narratives to their experiences and lock the historical details into their deeper memory.

History is full of archetypal characters and situations. Almost every revolution and presidential scandal contain what Carl Jung, the founder of analytic psychology called archetypes or commonly repeating personality types that help simplify human behavior patterns. With practice, you can teach your students to recognize these story-telling techniques to make meaningful connections when studying complex phenomena. George Washington gave advice to Alexander Hamilton in a mentor role similar to how Ben Bradlee, the editor of the Washington Post, encouraged his reporters Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein to keep digging deeper into the Watergate scandal.

I have found the lenses of The Hero’s Journey and Archetypes to be helpful in jumpstarting classroom conversations. My students worked in small groups to identify which character fits into which archetype. Then they gathered textual evidence to support their claims. Here is an example where a student is struggling to identify an archetype. This description of Alexander needs to be clearly defined. Is he an ally, shapeshifter, or trickster? This student is too vague and does not supply sufficient evidence from the text or the movie.

I have found the Nacho Paragraph EduProtocol well-tuned for helping students elaborate or clarify their rationale. This example shows how three students labeled the same character with different archetypes. To go deeper, I asked them to select one and elaborate with additional evidence. They were only given ten minutes to complete this task.

Archetypes teach students that some claims are easier to support than others. Also, there can be more than one right answer. Your students will dive back into the text and find historical details to bolster their points. Isn’t that what we want? Teachers can model how to strengthen these writing samples with direct instruction and think-aloud explanations as to why one sample is stronger than another. Students can learn to make more connections by reading each other’s responses and voting on which is the most convincing.

Sample A

Sample B

Sample C

To learn how EduProtocols can help you increase the amount of writing your students do while decreasing your prep and grading time, pick up our book The EduProtocol Field Guide: Social Studies Edition. If you already have the book, please consider posting a review on Amazon and sharing your students’ work on Twitter using the #EduProtocols hashtag.

Fact-Checking with Iron Chef

Do your students know how to perform lateral reading? Even college students struggle with this skill. I have long used the Iron Chef EduProtocol as a jigsaw tool, but lately, I have been experimenting by using it as a fact-checking tool. This helps students identify claims, find sources that can corroborate or refute them, and add citations that legitimize their academic writing.

First, I used this video lesson from Retro Report to help them understand how professional fact-checkers work. There is a great companion website with additional lessons here.

My students often create content that I use the following year. This creates an authentic audience for my projects and makes the kids focus on producing high-quality products. Here are some children’s books my students did on historical figures in the 1920s & 1930s. I used a spreadsheet to assign a separate book to each student. They have one class period to build an Iron Chef and fact-check as much as they can. Presentations are staggered at the beginning and end of class to avoid boredom. Here is a link to the book.

The first student retitled the book and pulled ten quotes that she thought she could corroborate. She provided three sources that she could use for this fact-checking activity in the secret ingredients section of the slide. Lastly, she included parenthetical citations for each fact she was able to verify.

This second student was able to pull ten items to fact-check. She provided links to three sources, but she was unable to verify or refute the items she selected with parenthetical citations. This suggests that I should lower the fact-checking requirements. How many lateral reading reps do students need before they reflexively verify the information the media shoots at them?

Moving forward, I would extend this activity by having students view presentations that document at least three facts that they can use to then write a complex thesis statement and supporting paragraph. I might even make them read the paragraph on Flip. That way, each student has one paragraph that summarizes the 28 important people, places, and events from the 1920s & 30s. Earlier this year, my students did podcasts on WWI Spies. I created an easier fact-checking activity for students to verify historical details in their podcasts. Here’s a student sample. Which version would you feel comfortable using in your class? If you have additional questions on the Iron Chef EduProtocol, check out our book.