All posts by scottmpetri

Scott Petri has taught social studies for five years at the middle school level and six years at the high school level. He has also served as a coordinator and small school principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and a Masters in Educational Administration from California State University Northridge, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Diego.

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)

http://benthamorfoucault.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-to-write-almost-anything-argument.html

http://benthamorfoucault.blogspot.com/2014/07/how-to-write-almost-anything-part-2.html

Claims, Evidence, Reasoning

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCJacUvo778&list=PLij2XTFgmBSTKjftUzmkRmR0WxFfUpg6o

Erik Palmer video on Argumentation

http://my.hrw.com/content/hmof/language_arts/hmhcollections/resources/common/videoPlayer/index.html?shortvid=V_FLLIT_0301

Good Speaking & Listening

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

http://www.stenhouse.com/html/well-spoken.htm?r

http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Teaching-the-Core-Skills-of-Listening-and-Speaking.aspx

Free webinar on Deepening & Widening the Way we teach writing in K-5.

https://vts.inxpo.com/scripts/Server.nxp?LASCmd=AI:4;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

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/browse/makesense/

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.

Analytics

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? http://p.ost.im/LY2mUb via @Catlin_Tucker #HistRW
  3. Special Journal Issue on #MOOC Read all about it. http://ln.is/scholarworks.umb.edu/dDQCG … #edtechchat #edchat #HistRW
  4. Historical Thinking – Teaching with Primary Sources http://ln.is/www.loc.gov/teachers/uEiNM … #HistRW
  5. Three lessons from the science of how to teach writing | Education By The Numbers: http://ln.is/educationbythenumbers.org/SgtQG … #HistRW
  6. Three lessons from data on the best ways to give feedback to students http://ln.is/p.ost.im/DSVNo  #HistRW
  7. Peer Review: 5 Tips and a Bunch of Tools to Make It Work When It Doesn’t. http://ln.is/angelastockman.com/Jkk3c … #HistRW

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

@nuriabrs

@grabgcab

@SecondaryEDUSF

@KHCoban

@MondaFason

@ACPGilbertson

@Dontworryteach

@maxlambmo

@egiapharas

@mrshistorylee

@KellyALew5

@arshiaunis

@gary_masters

@edmcgovern

@HTERCUMANP

@historytechie

@russelllindsey

@Asley88

@englishbeat8

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.

Participants

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?

http://historywithcj.blogspot.com/2015/01/why-do-i-have-to-teach-writing-in-my.html?spref=tw

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

http://worldhistoryeducatorsblog.blogspot.com/2015/01/main-causes-of-whi-video.html

How do students regard feedback from their teachers

http://www.turnitin.com/assets/en_us/media/favorite-feedback/

Interesting Summer PD Seminars

https://www.gilderlehrman.org/programs-exhibitions/2015-teacher-seminars

Charts that help writers distinguish idea generation from idea execution

http://makewriting.com/2014/12/01/charts-that-help-writers-distinguish-idea-generation-from-idea-execution/

A non-freaked out approach to the core

http://www.teachingthecore.com/non-freaked-approach-common-core-01/

Revising bit by bit

http://makewriting.com/2014/11/23/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.

Canvas Network

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.

SRSD Writing in History

This post is a follow up to my earlier lecture on SRSD writing instruction. Although, these lectures are meant for course participants in the MOOC Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers that will take place between January 12, 2015 – February 24, 2015, feel free to make comments, or join our Twitter conversations under the #HistRW.

Students writing

Purpose

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. A majority of adolescent writers struggle in writing a simple argument in history. Recently, research has focused on the discipline-specific demands of history writing. Most specifically, how students construct a complex argument from smaller arguments from historical documents that reflect how they read, understand and cite evidence from multiple sources.

Previous research suggests that students do not learn to explain quotations or other types of evidence in their papers. Students do not develop interpretations that are supported with evidence. DBQ instruction may help students improve their persuasive essays, but not their ability to write evidence-based arguments. Explicit methods and direct instruction are needed for this. These researchers developed a Self Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) intervention. This study measured the effectiveness of the intervention on students’ abilities to write evidence-based arguments using a cognitive apprenticeship model for instruction.

Thinking w hist docs

Hypotheses

H1 Students who receive instruction in analyzing sources and planning argumentative essays will demonstrate greater use of evidence from documents than students in the comparison group.

H2 Students will write more advanced claims and rebuttals, after instruction.

H3 Students will write longer and qualitatively better essays with greater factual accuracy and overall persuasiveness.

Methods

160 11th-grade students received instruction from four US history teachers at two schools. Scores on the written expression subtest of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, administered before the study began, were compared to determine whether the two groups differed in initial writing ability. The students initially performed at the same levels. Argumentative essays that involved historical interpretation were used for the writing task in this study.

Instructional Framework

(1) develop background knowledge, (2) describe it, (3) model it, (4) support it, and (5) independent performance (Harris & Graham, 1996).

The mnemonic STOP reminded students to consider and generate ideas on both sides of an argument before deciding which side to support in their essay. The steps of the mnemonic prompted them to Suspend judgment, Take a side, Organize (select and number) ideas, and Plan more as you write. Teachers modeled self-regulatory statements such as, ‘‘Since I decided to put my thesis statement first, I will write it as the beginning of my introductory paragraph.”

Student essays were coded to identify all claims in favor of or against the position. The study counted the total number of claims, but controlled for the length of essay. The researchers counted and analyzed the number of rebuttals that students wrote, then explored their level of development by ranking rebuttals according to degree of sophistication.

Doc Use Means

Results

In comparison to a control group (N = 79), essays written by students who received SRSD instruction (N = 81) were longer, were rated as having greater historical accuracy, were more persuasive, with detailed claims and rebuttals. This study suggests that with explicit instruction, teachers can shape new understandings for what students expect to write and how they perform in history classrooms. Thus, numerous writing from sources assignments, paired with direct instruction in historical thinking processes, appears to move low to average high school writers to demonstrably higher levels of writing proficiency.

The big takeaway is that History instructors now have a framework for how to compare measures of quality in student essays across grade levels. Effective writing instructors will concentrate on one or two elements per assignment, give students regular feedback, and report their growth.

Source

Reading and writing from multiple source documents in history: Effects of strategy instruction with low to average high school writers (2010). By Susan De La Paz, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Maryland, College Park 
& Mark Felton, Associate Professor, San Jose State University.

SRSD Instruction

This post describes a writing strategy for course participants in the MOOC Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers that will take place between January 12, 2015 – February 24, 2015. Regardless of if you are participating in the course or not, feel free to make comments, or click on the links for the original sources. SRSD Note

Integrating Self Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) into History/Social Science writing instruction is not taught in many teacher credentialing programs, nor is it offered in professional development seminars. Long used in elementary and middle schools to help students with Learning Disabilities (LD), SRSD is now being used with English Language Learners (ELLs) in some high schools. 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. SRSD Writing StratsWriting Strategies All SRSD writing strategies contain mnemonics for learning strategy steps. For instance, the narrative, or storytelling strategy utilizes POW. Each letter represents a step (a) Pick my idea; (b) Organize my notes; and (c) Write and say more. SRSD considers writing a problem-solving task requiring planning, knowledge, and skills. Planning includes pre-writing, drafting, and revising the essay.

Step 1 – Develop background knowledge. Increasing background knowledge. Purpose of writing. What skills are needed to achieve a writing goal?

Step 2 – Discuss it. The role of student effort in learning the strategy. The self-regulation procedures. Self-monitoring. identifying reasonable, measurable, and attainable goals.

Step 3 – Model it. Teachers model is completed. Students are taught how to count all the essay parts to determine whether all aspects of the prompt are answered in the essay. (Deconstructing prompt, Do-What chart).

Step 4 – Memorize it. Students practice the steps of the strategy. Meaning of mnemonics used to reinforce fluency. Teachers provide students with cue cards (described above), common think sheets, planning sheets, and graphic organizers. Reminders of the critical steps involved in writing compositions.

Step 5 – Support it. Teachers provide scaffolding and continuous feedback while students practice writing. Teachers may work collaboratively with the students following all of the planning and organizing steps. As students begin to master the essay writing process, scaffolds are removed. Step 6 – Independent Performance. Students write independently without graphic organizers. They user fewer audible self-statements, because they have internalized the strategy. SRSD Self-Reg Techniques

Self Regulation Strategies

Self-regulation refers to self-initiated thoughts, feelings, and actions that writers use to meet literary goals. When writers use self-regulation, they control their environment and behavior, including the time spent writing and organizing their ideas. Self-regulating writers develop goal-setting strategies, task-analyzing objectives, and self-reinforcement. Additional self-regulation techniques include: self-monitoring, self-instructions, self-reinforcement, metacognition, and self-assessment. Further techniques are embedded into each of the six stages of SRSD writing.

Development of positive attitudes toward writing

Environments that are supportive and pleasant develop students’ passion for writing and increase the odds that they will apply SRSD strategies. A few ways to create an inspiring classroom include: (1) establishing an exciting mood during writing time; (2) encouraging students to take risks when writing; (3) developing writing assignments that reflect students’ interests; (4) allowing students to select their own writing topics or modify assigned topics; (5) having students arrange their own writing space; and (6) encouraging students to help each other as they plan, write, and revise.

Additional Resources An outstanding tutorial on SRSD can be found at the IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/srs/ The Power of SRSD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHTvJFaINqI SRSD PD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0mw73aO9_k Kristy Currie – SRSD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czNaUbeAZnA Modeling Story Writing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-zVG38kBcU TIDE Mnemonic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atBZUnyOnmI Long Lecture – thinkSRSD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QylROcPEDC8 Steve Graham bonus video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIxxSJ3pG_M

References

Regan, K., & Mastropieri, M.A. (2009) Current Practice Alerts: A focus on Self Regulated Strategy Development for Writing. Issue 17, Spring, 2009. Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) and Division for Research (DR) of the Council for Exceptional Children. http://www.teachingld.org.

Santangelo, T., Harris, K.R., and Graham, S. (2008). Using Self-Regulated Strategy Development to Support Students Who Have “Trubol Giting Thangs Into Werds”. Remedial and Special Education. Vol. 29, No. 2. March/April 2008. 78-89. DOI: 10.1177/0741932507311636

Detecting Plagiarism

This post summarizes the Turnitin.com white paper on Plagiarism and the Web, which will culminate in a lecture for course participants in the MOOC Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers that will take place between January 12, 2015 – February 24, 2015. Regardless of if you are participating in the course or not, feel free to make comments, or click on the links for the original sources.

Turnitin Sources

Blum (2011) reported that more than 75 percent of college students have admitted to cheating and 68 percent have admitted cutting and pasting material from the internet without citing it. Over the last 15 years, almost 40 million student papers have been submitted to Turnitin. This study examined and classified 140 million content matches to discover which web sources students rely on for unoriginal content in their written work. The vast majority of students who have matched content in their work do not rely on cheat sites or paper mills. Many use legitimate homework, academic and educational sites as research sources. Students rely on social networks and user-generated content sites such as content sharing and question-and-answer (Q&A) sites to find content for their papers. Turnitin detects patterns of matching text to help instructors determine if plagiarism has occurred. The text in the student’s paper that is found to match a source may be properly cited, making it legitimate academic work. Social and content sharing web sites comprised the highest percentage of all matched content over the course of the study. Legitimate homework and academic help sites were second, followed by cheat sites/paper mills and news and portals a close third and fourth. The fifth most popular category was encyclopedia. The top eight matched sites for matched content were: 1) www.en.wikipedia.org 2) www.answers.yahoo.com 3) http://www.answers.com 4) http://www.slideshare.net 5) http://www.oppapers.com 6) http://www.scribd.com 7) http://www.coursehero.com 8) http://www.medlibrary.org. Only one of the top eight sites is dedicated to helping students cheat by providing unoriginal content. Out of the twenty-five most popular sites, fourteen are legitimate student resources. While close to fifteen percent of unoriginal content comes from cheat sites and paper mills, the majority of students are frequenting legitimate academic or educational web sites. Educators can guide students in proper citation procedures. With digital tools, educators can show students how much of their paper lacks attribution. Showing students a detailed report on the originality of their written work creates a teachable moment. Turnitin offers a collection of white papers on student writing and plagiarism that teachers may find beneficial. Although most students understand that quoting word for word requires a citation, they are often confused about the need to cite someone else’s paraphrased ideas. Professional authors like Stephen Ambrose,  Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Stephen Glass have had problems in this area too. Turnitin claims that academic institutions adopting their service see a reduction in unoriginal content of 30-35% in the first year. By the fourth year, many institutions see levels of unoriginality in student writing falling by 70 percent. This claim, when applied to the assertion that the rate of serious cheating on written work remained stable between 1963 and 1993 (Blum, 2011, p. 2) indicates that electronic plagiarism detection tools could be beneficial to teachers and help increase the amount of writing assigned in high school and college. I am interested in hearing about your experiences using plagiarism detection tools. Do you think students are genuinely confused about the rules of paraphrasing and citing? Or are the vast majority of students deliberately copying other writer’s works? What motivates this? Does cutting and pasting happen from poor research skills or laziness? How can you create assignments that reduce the amount of plagiarism from your students? Please make a comment, or send me your questions via Twitter to @scottmpetri #HistRW. For those interested in experimenting with plagiarism detection tools, there are several free options.

References

Blum, S., D. (2011). My word: Plagiarism and college culture. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, NY.

Plagiarism and the Web: Myths and Realities. An Analytical Study on Where Students Find Unoriginal Content on the Internet. Retrieved from http://turnitin.com/static/resources/documentation/turnitin/company/Turnitin_Whitepaper_Plagiarism_Web.pdf on November 25, 2014.

College and Career Ready Writing

What does it mean CCR

Educators are familiar with the phrase “college and career ready” but few are able to articulate what determines this readiness. This is because there has been little empirical analysis on the literary skills required in community colleges. Being college and career ready means students are able to communicate clearly—to speak grammatically, write well and read the required materials with understanding. A May 2013 study from the National Center on Education and the Economy asked what kind and level of literacy is required of a high school graduate for success in the first year of a community college program? They collected data from seven community colleges in seven states, serving rural, urban and suburban populations with enrollments from 3,000 to 30,000.

Reading

The reading and writing required of students in community colleges is not very complex or cognitively demanding. The reading complexity of college texts is between 11th and 12th grade. Successful readers of information-rich texts should have the ability to read complex texts in unsupported environments. The capacity to process, retain and synthesize large amounts of new information must be increased. Significant reading experiences must occur in a wider range of content areas. The skills in comprehending statistical tables, charts, maps, lists and other documents in college texts need to be improved.

CC Reading Levels_NCEE

Reading for in-depth subject matter comprehension is not formally taught in our high schools. This disconnect between high school and college reading demands suggests a need to reexamine what is taught in high school. What are we asking our students to do with what they read? College students are rarely asked to do complex analyses of texts, except in English Comp classes. One third (33%) of the courses examined used multiple choice or true/false exams and assignments exclusively.

Writing

Most introductory college classes demand very little writing; when it is required, instructors have very low expectations. Community College writing typically takes the form of informational writing or collecting evidence for a course of action. Complex writing plays a minor role in community college student exams. Even so, a large number of high school graduates cannot meet the low expectations that community colleges have of them.

Panel Ratings_NCEE

Community College instructors do not expect their students to read at the level of their texts or to write much. The majority of essays were argument or informational, only one college contributed narrative essays. Agreement between scores was significant at the lower end of the grading scale with notable disagreement at the mid-range of the scale One-fifth (20%) of essays that the panel considered college ready were scored not college ready by the instructors. Almost half (48%) of essays considered college ready by the instructors were given scores of 2 or below by the panel.

Over 75% of the essays given a B by the instructors were marked 2 or below by the panel. Argument essays often received Bs without including well-supported claims. No pattern emerged to suggest why the panelists graded the writing aspect of the subject matter essays more harshly than instructors.

Dist_Grades_Essays_NCEE

Community College students are required to learn college writing in English Comp and then rarely asked to write again. When they are asked to write outside of English class, the acceptable standard is considerably lower. Many of the deficits of HS school ELA instruction are being replicated rather than remedied in community colleges. Students clearly need better instruction in constructing arguments and in laying out their thinking logically and persuasively.

Big Takeaways

We need high schools and community colleges to concurrently raise their standards for reading and writing. This doesn’t just happen in high school, but needs to be a collaborative effort when implementing Common Core State Standards throughout the PK-12 curriculum.

Reading

Students must have the ability to read information-rich texts in unsupported environments. Teachers must increase the capacity of students to process, retain and synthesize large amounts of new information. Students must have significant reading experience in a wider range of content areas. Teachers must increase the ability of students in reading and understanding tables, charts, maps, and lists that supplement the prose in many college texts.

Writing

We are not teaching our high school and community college students to be proficient writers. The limited writing skills that we do teach, we do so ineffectively. Many high school graduates cannot meet the literacy demands of community college programs. Complex writing tasks need to play a larger role in both high school and community college student exams. History teachers may increase their writing instruction skills by signing up for this free online class.

Reference

Tucker, M. (2013). What does it really mean to be college and work ready? The English literacy required of first year community college students. The National Center on Education and the Economy. May 2013. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.ncee.org/college-and-work-ready/

NCSS Presentation Resources

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.

Conf Logo

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.

Greek Means

Here are the materials for Dr. Margarita Jimenez-Silva & Mrs. Ruth Luevanos’ presentation on Bruce Springsteen’s Sinaloa Cowboys, the lyrics, the directions, and the slides.

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