Category Archives: Historical Writing

Primary Source Scavenger Hunt

Recently, I asked my US History students to use the Research EduProtocol to locate a primary source on an aspect of the Gilded Age. Only four out of twenty-five or 16% of my 11th grade students did this successfully.

What I love about using EduProtocols is that they simplify learning and make the results extremely visible. In this case, the indisputable visual evidence looked like this. There was lots of red and plenty of room for improvement. EduProtocols to the rescue.

The next day, these students were asked to do a Thick Slide where they were asked to find an academic definition of a primary source.

Then they had to write a C-E-R to explain their rationale. Most quickly realized that they had not curated a primary source. I didn’t need to tell them. They now knew the area they needed to improve in.

After this, students were ready for another rep to try again. This time twelve out of twenty-six or 46% of students were able accurately curate a primary source. This was an increase of 30%, which is not bad considering that I have five students or 19% who refuse to engage in any work. Plus, an additional two students were absent.

At this point I am wondering how many reps I would need to give these students before 90% or more could accurately curate their own primary source. Of course, the reason history teachers ask their students to interpret primary sources is to move them up to strategic and extended thinking levels, also known as DOK3 & DOK4. I’m thinking that the ParaFLY EduProtocol would be the next logical step. Do you ask students to curate their own primary sources? Do you use established curators like Gilder Lehrman, the Library of Congress or Reading Like A Historian from the Stanford History Education Group? Do you do all the heavy lifting and find your own primary sources? Would adding student choice increase motivation in the interpretation of primary sources?

3XCER Challenge

Thanks to the awesome work of Science teacher extraordinaire, Ariana Hernandez, I was inspired to try the three-way claim-evidence-reasoning challenge with my World History students who are studying Middle East conflicts. I found this great reading by Dr. Sawsan Jaber and asked my students to work in small groups to identify claims of fact, policy, and value

My student teacher Mr. Preston Becker created a Kahoot to help our students do some retrieval practice when learning the different types of claims. After a round of practice in teams, students were ready to dive into the reading. I modified Ariana’s template so that students could all work in the same document and I could monitor their progress. They were given 30 minutes to identify the three different claims and talk about whether or not there was a grande claim — the most important point in their reading. 

Instead of providing individual feedback to each group, I chose a sample and added comments so that students could see where they need to improve. 

10th grade World History student work example.

Where I highlighted in red, I commented that a claim of policy should be made by an institution, organization, or government. This sounds more like an opinion or claim of value. Where I highlighted in yellow, I mentioned that a claim of fact should be able to be proven or disproven. How would you do this? Lastly, for the claim of value, I asked what is an adjective you would use to describe this value-oriented behavior?

Students will use this challenge again to identify claims in their reading of I Am Malala or The Kite Runner. I know that their English teacher and Chemistry teacher both use this CER format in their classes and I hope students will see how easy it is to transfer their knowledge and skills in all subjects.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to ELA & History

I am always on the hunt for good historical fiction that makes my students connect with the era under study in my class. This week, I finally finished Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua. It’s a fantastic book by a well-respected author and could engage students in deep learning about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, however, the focus on the love life between the Chairman and Mei Xiang makes this book too cringey for me to assign to my class. This is honestly the first book where I have censored myself and I wonder if other social studies teachers feel similarly in this political climate, or if I am alone in this sentiment. 

Do you feel as if your school administration would stand up to parents who want to question or argue with you about your curricular choices?

Does today’s anti-teacher sentiment make you anxious about assigning academic work outside of your district textbook?

Should teachers team together on interdisciplinary approaches to teaching ELA & History in order to diffuse some of this tension? 

Join me on Twitter September 26, 2022 at 5 PT, 7 CT, or 8 ET to chat about this topic with the #sschat #sschatreads & #engsschat community. Bring your most controversial titles. We will be issuing merit badges.

Cybergeddon 22

This week began with a cyberattack on my district computer systems that made digital instruction all but impossible this week. Kids are locked out of everything. Resetting passwords was not easy. Without missing a beat, my students utilized our class sets of books. My 11th-grade USH students began reading Hellhound on His Trail and my 10th-grade World History students had a choice between I Am Malala or The Kite Runner. 

Corroboration

One of my favorite ways to get students reading for a purpose is a corroboration drill. I give students a finite amount of time to corroborate facts from their reading with the textbook. I teach them a simple format to emulate, essentially Source 1 says… Source 2 says … When these two facts are taken together they suggest…

This is a very difficult cognitive task that students struggle to complete. Last year, my tenth-grade students could do four corroborations per class period on average with a low of four and a high of twenty-seven over two class periods.

This student has mastered cited text, but they need a little more work on analyzing the two quotes and drawing a conclusion from them.
This next student makes a claim that the confederacy was supported by cotton, but does not explain that the textual evidence is from two different time periods: 1) the Civil War and 2) the 1960s. This suggests a problem with reading comprehension and understanding on their part. I need to follow up with them and make sure they understand that the textual evidence they have chosen can not be used to make a claim.

When I follow up and build on this lesson, I will need to provide better examples so that students learn to improve this skill with additional reps. Sentence starters will go a long way toward improving this type of student writing.

Retell in Rhyme

In World History, students were challenged to choose 10 unfamiliar words from off the whiteboard and write rhyming couplets that summarized their understanding of what they read in I Am Malala.

Since this was the first time students used this EduProtocol, I paired them up to make this a collaborative task. I was very pleased with the results, which contained important historical details and indicated a strong understanding of the material.

My goal was for students to complete 10 rhyming couplets in 30 minutes. Not everyone hit the goal. The 11th-grade USH students did a better job, but I think this was because they had used this EduProtocol last year and were more familiar with it. I am looking forward to coaching up my 10th graders and giving them more reps with Retell in Rhyme.

Book Release

Hello Friends, I have been on a blog hiatus because I have been working on the Social Studies EduProtocols book with my new best friend, Adam Moler. We were asked to contribute to the fifth book in the EduProtocols Field Guide series. Adam provided a middle school History teacher’s perspective and student examples while I supplied lessons from my 10th grade World History, 11th grade US History, and AP Research classes.

Click here to purchase.

With the start of a new school year, I’m excited about chronicling a new crop of students’ EduProtocol journey. We have made new friends since the book has been released, been on podcasts, and hosted some Twitter chats, but what we really enjoy is elevating the work of teachers who are new to EduProtocols. Please share your student work with the #EduProtocols community on Twitter. Seeing your innovative approaches to engaging students in social studies instruction is worth more than book sales. Thank you for purchasing our book.

Children’s Book Projects

For the past few weeks, my tenth grade World History students have been learning about the Mexican Revolution. They read The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela in their ELA class, and in my class they viewed the PBS documentary The Storm That Swept Mexico, learned about La Soldaderas, and researched and wrote children’s books on important events and leaders from the Revolution.

Almost every student completed this project on time and they were given multiple chances to revise and resubmit a perfectly formatted annotated bibliography of five sources for their book. I taught them how to use The Hemingway App and Rewordify to help paraphrase their text. Students could work in groups or independently, the only rule was each student had to produce six pages of content.

The top three entries were chosen by BookCreator to be displayed in their instructional libraries. I am so proud of these students.

https://read.bookcreator.com/cgkm1YQFihcaV9mXXkOebPP6AkP2/o9_ZKSGnT4CqU0eFLXNzXQ

https://read.bookcreator.com/b9ooRapSmdYBSQy2QUPCWgnSJ9m2/vGs6TpavQpy-E5Y0DnaHtg

https://read.bookcreator.com/6rWnNn5Zz6aOpssaM2mAZALlJhx2/vP5iwXKiTriIR65rcGLTCw

To take a look at ALL OF the books, click through this spreadsheet.

At the end of the 15 week grading period, my students have earned 35 (As), 15 (Bs); 9 (Cs); 4 (Ds); and 7 (Fs). Please ask your child to share their book project with you and celebrate their creative accomplishments.

Coming up next. The Great Thanksgiving Listen.

French Revolution Presentations

My 10th grade World History students recently completed a speaking project where they were asked to narrate sketchnotes on the French Revolution or complete an Ignite Talk using 20 slides. The goal of this project was to get them to speak on an aspect of the French Revolution and make it entertaining to an audience of teenagers.

I used excerpts of Well Spoken (pp. 17-54) by Erik Palmer and this worksheet from teacher Erin Rigot to help students understand the importance of a grabber opening, an organizational strategy, signposts, and a powerful closing.

Almost 80% of my students completed a Narrated Sketch Note or Ignite Talk (55/70) within five days. Here are what I assessed as the top four, using the following rubric.

Narrated Sketch Note Project

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/65e57be2?embed=true

This student designed her speech for a teenaged audience perfectly. She used high-interest terms like True Crime, Netflix, using Googling as a verb, and living like Jeff Bezos. The key points about the Guillotine and French Revolution were understandable and entertaining. She made several clear connections to this audience when she made references to #vegetarian, and fangirling.

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/fc7e3e24?embed=true

The next student clearly designed her speech for a teenage audience by asking students what it would be like to be treated fairly. She explains the plight of the Third Estate and connects with the audience with via her cartoons, which were perfectly timed and entertaining.

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/536f51a7?embed=true

The third student gets the audience on his side by making fun of not only me, but also our school principal, Dr. Chavez. He uses us to illustrate the problems France had with inequality. Who says I don’t have a thick skin?

https://flipgrid.com/+q7jdq06n/d0fd0b0e?embed=true

The fourth student uses a surprising statistic to open her speech and helps students understand the mountain of debt France had before the Revolution. She does a wonderful job explaining the concept of absolutism and the divine right of kings. She had minimal text on her slides. Je l’aime! Keep up the good work, World History students. Next year, my students will be learning from you.

testimony Projects

Chapman University had a wonderful prompt for their annual art and writing contest this year. “As you listen to the survivor’s or rescuer’s testimony, and as you reflect on the stories they tell, write down a specific word, phrase, or sentence that speaks to the inner strength of this individual and the role of connectedness in sustaining strength. As the person now entrusted with this individual’s memory, through your creativity in art, poetry, or prose, explore this word, phrase, or sentence as central to the survivor’s or rescuer’s story, your understanding of the Holocaust, and your own search for inner and shared strength during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Because of pacing issues, my students weren’t able to participate in this year’s contest, but I did use the prompt for my 10th-grade Holocaust unit and we participated in a joint LAUSD-Glendale Unified zoom session with survivor Joseph Alexander. Here are some of the entries from my 10th-grade World History students along with my comments on how they connected the Holocaust testimony to their lives and survival of COVID.

This student finds a shared strength with the Holocaust survivor, but does not supply enough supporting details as to how knowledge protected them during the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be nice to have them elaborate and share more details.
This student composed a poem based on Holocaust testimony, but made no effort to connect it to their life or experiences under COVID-19. They were invited to revise and resubmit.

Another poem with the required connection and explanation to the student’s life follows below:

Fences
A fence separating sides, never looked so diminishing as now.
Fences everywhere left and right in my life. Everything closed off at one point.
Hungary fenced off to Czech Republic. Soon being fenced off of my own home.
Closed off from real life trapped in a world where no one seems to relate on the outside.
The ghetto stripping us of our rights, fenced from the light, closed to the conditions set for us.
Treated lower than others making us feel diminished. No hope, no sight, fenced to my real life.
One point I believed it would end, let out of the ghetto only to be trapped in carts for days.
No food, no space, no necessities, we are going to waste.
Our lives mean no more than a dime to them. I wonder why. What have I done to deserve this?
I am Jewish, what a crime.
A child, suffering a punishment cruel to man.
Ripped away from my parents, what if I never see them again I thought?
Off to the crematorium my mother went, reuniting with her only in dreams.
Fenced from my family now alone with my sister.
Stripped from my beauty, my clothes and hair stripped from me fenced from what was mine.
Yellow stripes from my head and back. I was called over before, for my looks.
Perfect Aryan they said. Blonde with blue eyes. Baffled when they figured I was Jewish.
A waste they said, frustrated I was let go.
Only to eventually be fenced from my sister once more.
Meeting her from a fence everyday.
Restricted from where I once was. Off to a side where I was going to live when my sister wasn’t.
Seeing her making sure she was okay was the only thing keeping me going.
One day she did not come. Worried I waited for days.
Concluding she was selected.
Fenced off from every part of what my life once was, I have no will.
Death looked me in the eyes wishing it would take me but I survived.
With the help of others I made it through.
Auschwitz to factories in kettle carts once more. No space, no room, no life.
Working until we were set free. Fenced from all free life no knowing what it would be like.
Not knowing when it was over. Confused but curious freedom in such a similar state.
Soon enough the fenced dropped.
Not being able to differentiate what was allowed and what wasn’t.
The fence disappeared. I reunited with my brother.
A long road ahead but eventually the sun will shine again.

Explanation: Renee Firestone is a Holocaust survivor who came from a well off happy family where she knew enough to associate herself as a Jew but not educated enough to be a master in the religion until later on in life where she learned more. She was taken to Auschwitz where she
was separated from her family and fenced off from the only person she had left, her sister who was then selected and she really had no one left in the camp. She was fenced off everything in her life and in some aspects through covid we were fenced off our ordinary life as well. Not that
our lives could ever be compared to theirs through covid because we have been fortunate to make it our health and make it this far without losing someone. The situations are not compatible at all but there are similar feelings throughout. In my quarantine experience,
although I was safe, my family and I still got covid a few months back. Through my whole covid positive experience, I was separated from my parents and I had to stay with my sister who also got covid and we all quarantined separately. My father was the only one who did not get covid despite being near my mom to help her while simultaneously helping my siblings and I. My siblings and I were fortunate to make it out well and have little to no symptoms but it was different for my mom. My mom was very ill and could not move for anything. She was so sick
that she almost had to go to the hospital because she would not breathe. I was very worried for my mom because it made me sad that she was that sick but fortunately, she got better but as she was getting better, her mother passed away from natural causes which was also very rough
for her. Throughout his whole time i felt isolated from those that i loved and i was isolated from the world. There were fences all around even though there was nothing there. Restrictions and quarantine life was still rough but nothing extreme. It is nothing compared to what Renee
Firestone endured. A little taste of what she had but 20x worse is what I think covid was for me. I relate to Renee though the feeling of being fenced off of your life and those who you love.

For my Holocaust Testimony Project, I choose to research Mala Tribich. Her life story
was filled with grief and loss sadly a common factor was being separated from loved ones and
family. I can definitely relate to that as I was separated from my father at the beginning of the
pandemic when he was severely ill in the hospital. It was 2 long months of not knowing whether
he’d be alive anymore but thankfully he’s alive and well continuing to recover. I can also relate in
the way that I’ve been separated from the majority of my family who live in Mexico, which
include countless aunts/uncles and cousins of all ages, all of which I know little to nothing of.
Although I do carry hope, the same way Mala and her fellow survivors did, to one day see them
in person. I decided to do a digital art piece to represent the separation that these innocent people
and families had to undergo simply because they were Jewish or had Jewish features. This led
me to remember the BLM movement, specifically in the summer of 2020, where peaceful
protesters were brutally injured. Once again comes to prove how divided we are as humans
simply because of our differences. I also included the quote by the incredible Audre Lorde, an
American poet/writer feminist as well as a black lesbian mother. The image I drew represents
how the Jews felt being attacked trying to hold onto the rope which represents the connections
between loved ones and hope meanwhile all it took was one hateful person, Hitler, as he stands
on his infamous balcony watching all the henchmen he’s brainwashed with propaganda and
racism to follow along with his evil tactics. The henchmen in the background is an image from
google just wanted to make that clear because I wanted that image crystal clear but the rest is
hand drawn. Ultimately, I wanted to convey the pain that these innocent families went through
yet through the worst of tragedies they held onto hope and persevered.

This student made strong connections with her survivor’s testimony and being separated from her father during COVID. They elaborate on the theme of separation with their family history. I appreciated their citing the image and identifying their original art. The composite of the image, quote, and original artwork add up to a powerful experience.

This well done example makes a connection to labor as a benefit. This student elaborates with the work they have done with their father and cites how meaningful work kept them sane and happy. This learning experience demonstrates that tenth grade students can study the past and improve their self-awareness. CASEL defines self-awareness as the abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

Student fears

After participating in the #AdvanceSELinCA activities this summer, I decided to start the year with a focus on trauma and recovery.

The first step was asking my students two questions. Here is a sample of their responses.

What is one thing that you are most afraid of this school year?

I’m not that good at online anything so I am afraid that I will mess up on some assignments because I don’t know how to do them properly. 

I suck with online school.

I’m sorta afraid of waking up super super late and completely missing almost all of my zooms for that day.

Not knowing how to do the work because of online classes.

I am scared of not being able to understand/learn much with online learning.

One thing I am afraid of this school year is messing up or not knowing how to do my assignments.

One thing I am afraid of for this school year is that I won’t be able to figure out how to submit certain things because I am new to using schoology. 

This school year I am afraid I will fall behind in school work and become overwhelmed.

One thing I’m afraid of is not knowing how to do things in online school because I’m not very good with technology.

I am afraid of not learning the same online as I did in person.

I’m afraid my internet won’t work and I won’t be able to join a class.

I’m afraid of not being able to understand the material as much because online learning is very different than in person. 

I’m afraid that I’ll be behind my school work and not know what’s going on during my classes.

One thing I am scared of this school year is missing zoom meetings.

I’m afraid that I’m going to fall behind on schoolwork.

I am scared that I’ll miss a class and just miss an important lesson.

I’m afraid of not being able to retain information from online work and classes.

I am afraid I will procrastinate too much and fall behind in all my work.

I’m afraid of being late to class due to the fact that my sleeping schedule is messed up.

I am afraid of missing assignments and zooms because I couldn’t find or access the materials. 

a few things i’m afraid of for this school year are procrastinating and not actually learning.

I’m scared of accidentally missing assignments or zoom meetings, like if I forget to check one subject or platform. 

I’m scared that I’m gonna keep getting distracted and have a hard time learning.

Some things that I am afraid of are getting distracted and falling behind. I like to wait until the last minute to do things and I get distracted easily. working from home isn’t going to make that any easier.

I’m afraid of not understanding a topic and messing up the homework.

One thing I’m afraid for this school year is that we won’t go back.

I am afraid that I will get distracted and will fall behind.

I am afraid that I won’t be able to attend the zoom meeting due to internet issues.

One thing that I am afraid of this school year is having online school next year because I don’t learn as well when on remote learning. I am also afraid of procrastinating.

I am afraid that I will miss a class or be really late and miss everything and not understand the lesson well then doing bad on the test. 

The main thing I am afraid of this school year is falling behind and missing assignments. 

My biggest fear for this school year is failing or procrastinating a lot more than usual

I’m scared that I can’t handle all the classes I signed up for and can’t keep up like I thought I would.

My biggest fear for this school year is getting overwhelmed with the work given to me.

One thing I’m afraid of is that I’ll get piled with so much work that i won’t know how to get back on track or what to complete first. 

My biggest fear is failing my classes and AP tests.

The one thing I’m most afraid for the school year is failing the classes because online is different that in person

One thing that I’m afraid of this school year is falling behind or feeling too overwhelmed with class work getting pushed all into one hour.

My biggest fear for this school year is falling behind classes and not going back to school until next year. 

Failing my classes 

What should your teachers do to manage your concerns about online learning?

Teachers should offer more practice to learn instead of giving busy work for a letter grade.

Provide extra support for homework, and have patience as all of us are new to online learning.

Teachers should communicate with other teachers to not overlap work dates and just overall spread out due dates. 

To manage concerns about online schools our teachers should have all assignments and due dates placed somewhere clear to see so that there is no confusion.

I feel like teachers should be understanding and try not to give so much work as to stress the students out too much considering we are all going through a stressful time right now. Also extra credit since people will be missing out on alot.

I feel like teachers should help and understand when there are technical issues with zoom when it’s needed. I feel like students get these feelings because they are exploring a new way of school and are so unaccustomed to being there in the classroom.

Be available during school hours to help student who may have extra questions 

Teachers should motivate us and understand that this a whole unique way of learning. 

Teachers should be more patient and offer substitute assignments to help understand harder concepts

Teachers can help manage concerns by answering questions and communicating with us.

Teachers should address the concerns that the students have and provide simple solutions for said problems. This will help guide students through these concerns with less anxiety; another thing that the teacher may do to help students is being open to discussion about these problems and working with students to overcome them. 

Send reminders for students to remember what’s coming up, if it’s either assignments or important dates.

Teachers should try to use similar websites so that us students will have an easier time finding things and feel more organized without being swarmed with tabs.

Teachers should offer more ways on how to help on hw

I feel that we should be given more creative ways to learn instead of just straight out of the book.

Teachers should find alternatives to schoology, for instance if schoology crashes, having a backup plan would be helpful. 

I think teachers should try to be more understanding and have patience because online learning is all new to us. We’re all kinda stressed out so I think we’d appreciate it if teachers don’t pile a ton of work on us just because we’re learning from home.

Teachers should be patient with us one of my teachers already has stuff for us to print out and my printers at target

Teachers should make sure all students are aware of deadlines. It would be helpful to have some sort of schedule posted as well as organized materials in either Schoology or Google Classroom. 🙂 

Teachers should just take their time with their lessons and take time with learning this new process.

I was most scared of showing my face on camera. I feel like if it wasn’t forced then it wouldn’t be so bad I guess. But it’s not that bad.

I think that teachers should concentrate more on posting lessons and lectures rather than giving out busywork. I also think it would be helpful to keep the zoom meetings for more of a discussion rather than teaching lessons on zoom because something student’s internet cuts out. 

Teachers should record lessons and post them in case we need them, like they do in colleges. Also to be patient and understanding. 

I think that teachers should answer as soon as possible, as well as understand that this is a whole new learning environment for us. 

I think patience is key, since we’re all new to online learning. I also think we shouldn’t just rely on Zoom meetings, and find other ways to learn and practice, such as being recommended online articles, or having worksheets.

Teachers should offer after school help and should take this time to go more in depth with assignments instead of just giving us extra work.

6 Tips for #DistanceLearning

Always a pleasure to work with Dr. Michelle Herczog at the Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide 6 Tips for Distance Learning. Here is a link to the webinar. I have pasted the agenda with additional links below.

Objective: Teachers will learn to simplify distance learning lessons and create engaging digital learning experiences. Presentation link: https://bit.ly/DL6Tips 

  1. Collaborate to Create Cross-Curricular Experiences
    1. Hiroshima Reading
    2. Cold War
    3. World History through Literature List
  2. Increase Engagement with Student Choice
    1. Choice Boards & HyperDocs
    2. Civil Rights Leaders
  3. Provide Feedback that Increases Engagement
    1. Learning from Distance Learning
    2. Culminating Task
    3. Feedback from History POV & ELA POV
    4. Weekly feedback
    5. Commonlit Written Response Rubric
  4. Emphasize Executive Function in the Learning Process
    1. Student Reflections on Time Management
    2. Goal-Plan-Do Review
    3. Exam Wrappers
  5. Focus on Familiar Learning Apps & Technology
    1. Listenwise
    2. Commonlit
    3. Playposit/Edpuzzle
    4. Flipgrid
  6. Extend Your Influence Beyond the Classroom
    1. Arist Text Messaging Platform
    2. 7 Day Cold War Class 
    3. Student Testimonials