Category Archives: Historical Writing

Numbers Mania Instructional Sequence

This post will describe an instructional sequence using the Numbers Mania EduProtocol, a corroboration activity, and a rhyming game to formatively assess student’s knowledge of the French Revolution. Numbers Mania is a lesson frame from Marlena Hebern and Jon Corripo’s book The EduProtocol Field Guide: Book Two where students create an infographic to demonstrate their knowledge of your subject. 

French Revolution by the Numbers

In this case, students used numbers to tell the story of a historical event. I use this lesson frame to motivate students into reading the textbook more closely than they would if they were just taking notes.  

French Revolution by the Numbers (1)

Here they are specifically looking for numbers that can be pulled from the text and used to tell the beginning, middle and end of the French Revolution. 

French Revolution by the Numbers (2)

For this assignment, my students had one class period to pull numbers from their textbook in order to tell the story of the French Revolution. This explains the lack of variation in their infographics. You can see an entire class period of Numbers Mania infographics HERE. On average my students created five stats for their story in one class period. There was a high of ten numbers and a low of 1 in the sample.

In the past, I have extended this activity by adding an annotated bibliography assignment. To evaluate the efforts of my students, I “graded” them on the number of statistics they included and the number of sources they used. Thanks to Ryan O’Donnell aka @creativeedtech for giving me access to his great templates

Corroboration

On the second day of this unit, students were given a lengthy Sparknotes reading on the French Revolution and asked to corroborate facts from that reading with events in their textbook. 

20191010_055826

I ask my students look for areas of agreement in two separate texts. They document them in a Fact 1, Fact 2, Implication format. This helps high school students learn to analyze texts critically and to improve their explanations of quotes they select as textual evidence.

20191010_055736

In one class period, my students could identify a low of two corroborations to a high of 16 corroborations of varying quality. The class average was five.

Rhyming Couplets

On the third day of this unit, students were asked to retell the story of the French Revolution in rhyme. They were allowed to work in groups or as individuals. Twenty-nine poems were created in two class periods. 

French Revolution in Rhyme

I have removed student last names in order to publish the poems. At this point, I can turn them over to my ELA teacher colleagues and they will follow up with helping the students review their rhyme scheme, improve their drafts, and polish their prose. Interestingly, when I asked students which activity they felt them learn the most about the French Revolution (numbers, corroborating, or rhyming) — they overwhelmingly chose the rhyming activity. It helped them remember more historical details.

Conclusion

The EduProtocols book series has helped my transition to a 1:1 classroom by making the learning in my classroom visible. This allows me to give students discrete skill builders that I can remix for coherence and consistency. This has helped me get off the lecture and test treadmill. What protocols or skill builders are you using in your classroom to help students demonstrate they understand the content you are teachng them?  

Mix Iron Chef Into Reading and Writing

Students in my 11th grade US History class typically read four non-fiction books in addition to their History textbook. I have noticed that their note-taking skills, attention to detail, and recall of historical figures in the text need to improve. As students advance through upper-division work text complexity increases, yet the amount of reading instruction decreases. This can result in real problems in college where professors expect their students to do three hours of reading in the subject-area for every hour they spend in class. This post will describe an instructional sequence that helps students focus on the historical characters in a nonfiction reading using an Iron Chef protocol, a Who Am I? narrative writing technique, and a video response system that improves student speaking and listening skills.

Iron Chef

Eduprotocol authors Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo developed this tool to help students flex quick research reps in 15 minutes or less. For this pre-reading activity, I listed the historical figures in The Professor and the Madman and assigned them via number on my class roster. Students research the individual, note key details and page number(s) they appeared on in the book, and for the secret ingredient add what we should know/remember about this person. The slide below is an example of what a student can create in less than one class period. Students build their own study guide that they can refer back to and add to as they read.

Iron Chef Pics

Who Am I? A First Person Protocol

The next step is to have students turn their slide research into a first person narrative. Even if students mostly copied information from Wikipedia into their Iron Chef slide, now they have to do the literary heavy lifting of converting it from the third person into the first person. This student has done an excellent job with a minor historical figure from The Professor and the Madman and has even slipped her own confident personality into her script. I can’t wait to see what she does with her video.

Iron Chef Pics (1)

Flipgrid – Engage Your Students in Speaking and Listening

The last step involves using Flipgrid, a free video-response platform that helps students learn via their own videos. For this assignment, the students have to speak for one minute giving the viewer clues as to the historical figure’s identify. As the grid populates with videos, students can view them, take notes, and learn who is who before they take a quiz made up of ten randomly selected videos.Screenshot 2019-09-21 at 5.17.58 PM

This video shows how students can be creative and have fun when engaged in this instructional sequence. Flipgrid tracks the analytics for each grid, which allowed me to see that my students viewed each others videos a total of 2,764 times prior to the quiz. That adds up to 43 hours of study time on the characters in a book they haven’t read yet. What do you think will happen when they encounter each character in the text?

Big Takeaways

What I like about this instructional sequence is that each day builds on what students created the day before. If they didn’t try very hard with the research they put into their Iron Chef slide, then they will struggle to write a Who Am I? speech. If they didn’t put some effort and creativity into their script, then they will have trouble making an interesting video. If they didn’t review their classmates’ videos, then they probably won’t do very well on the quiz.

Teaching students to show up and work hard every day is the most important work we can do as teachers. I have used this instructional sequence to help my students learn about Historical Eras, Enlightenment Philosophes, and people in the Civil Rights Movement. These activities have increased effort and engagement in my classes. Feel free to remix them for your class and subject matter. All I ask is that you leave a comment or tag me in a tweet @scottmpetri and let me know how they work for you. 

Graphic Novel Review: Illegal

20190825_134400

Illegal is the story of Ebo, a young boy from Ghana who journeys across Africa to Tripoli where he hopes to migrate to Europe and reunite with his older sister Sisi and his older brother Kwame who have already left home. This 122 page graphic novel by was written by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin with the images drawn by Giovanni Rigano.

20190825_134439

A small cast of characters make this book an easy, yet dramatic read for students learning about immigration and Africa. Ebo, Kwame, Sisa, Uncle Patrick, Rozak, Penn, and Cammo.

The reader quickly learns that the life of a migrant is a dangerous routine of work, hide, and sleep in order to get up and avoid detection the next day. Human traffickers abound and pop up frequently to separate migrants from their hard-earned money.

20190825_143330

Ebo’s gift for song carries him to the city of Agadez where an impromptu gig at a wedding helps him get to Europe. There are many opportunities for teachers to help students learn about African countries, the legacies of imperialism, and the sad history of decolonization. Students can create empathy maps, timelines, and map the refugees’ journey, as well as engage in inquiry projects about refugees in and out of the United States.

The opening quote from Eli Wiesel reminds us all that humanity depends on humans caring for each other. Isn’t that what the study of history is for?

20190825_134322

Five Resources for Teaching About Racism

There has been heated debate about how to teach racism and social justice in schools. Part of this rhetoric centers on whether or not white teachers can effectively teach racism and social justice since they have been the beneficiaries of privilege and members of the dominant American culture for hundreds of years. 

I feel that it is the job of a History teacher to inspire curiosity. To do this I pair film and literature in my high school History classes and then let my students create inquiry projects that demonstrate their learning. There are too many facts, figures, events, and readings and too little time to teach civil rights history comprehensively, but good teachers help students make connections between different historical periods and contemplate the type of society they wish to create and participate in.

Following are five resources that I have used to inspire my students to explore the Civil Rights Movement via independent inquiry.

The Best of Enemies directed by Robin Bissell starring Sam Rockwell and Taraji Penda Henson examines a racially-charged charette that takes place in the summer of 1971 in Durham, North Carolina. Without spoiling the ending, there are worthy themes in the treatment of US veterans returning from World War I, World War Two, and Vietnam that deserve student examination through a racial lens. While this movie has been criticized for having a white savior narrative, I found Ms. Henson’s portrayal of the activist Ann Atwater and Babou Ceesay’s performance as Bill Riddick worthy of sharing with my students.

Unexampled Courage by Richard Gergel is a powerful and moving piece of non-fiction that situates the Civil Rights Movement in the Truman administration’s 1948 Executive Order 9981. The blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring is a story that deserves a wider audience. There are strong parallels to the treatment of the Harlem Hellfighters after WWI and the Red Summer of 1919 that students should examine via individual inquiry.

I Am Not Your Negro directed by Raoul Peck was nominated for an Academy award for Best Documentary Feature. It’s hard to believe this 2016 film lost the Oscar to OJ – Made In America. The words written by James Baldwin are masterfully woven with contemporary footage of racial unrest from Charlottesville with narration from Samuel L. Jackson that presents the Civil Rights movement through the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcom X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This film made me want to read more of the great work of James Baldwin

Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides takes readers on the FBI manhunt for MLK’s assassin. It is a well-researched and detailed look into the life and inner circle of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as it pivoted from the Civil Rights movement to the Poor People’s March. One of my students declared this was the best book he’d read in his life. I would have a hard time disagreeing with him. Another student continued researching members of Dr. King’s inner circle and was gratified to find that Ralph Abernathy and Hosea Williams remained advocates for the poor and protested against the Apollo 11 mission

Image result for ralph abernathy apollo 11

Lighting the Fires of Freedom by Janet Dewart Bell looks at the contributions of nine unheralded African American women in the Civil Rights Movement. Each chapter is a detailed oral history featuring the type of historical writing all that teachers should be using as models for their students. I found the chapter featuring Medgar Evers’ widow, Myrlie, particularly heart-breaking when she describes visiting the house where her husband was assassinated.

“Today when I visit my former home, which my children and I deeded to Tougaloo College as a museum, I can still see the blood. We needed to get away from that place. Our oldest son, Darrell Kenyatta, reached a point where he refused to eat, he would not study, he would not talk. He went into this very, very angry withdrawal mode. I knew we needed to be away from the house. My daughter would go to bed with her dad’s picture, holding it every night. The youngest one, Van, who was three, would go to bed with this little rifle. I knew that we could no longer live in that house” (p. 201).

Making historical events personal and relevant is the first job of a History teacher. I aspire to help my students see themselves in shaping the future of America. Redressing grievances is part of our Historical DNA. Presenting these resources to your students will help them develop their own understanding of racism, social justice, and the Civil Rights Movement. I hope you will share your work with a supportive community of teachers and together we can help our students move America closer toward the ideals of all men (and women) being created equal.

#CCSS19 and #CUE19

Four different presentations in four days. CUE19 and CCSS19 have been a blur of learning and sharing. My brain is full. More commentary later, but I wanted to get the decks up for conference participants.

Use Genealogy to Engage Students in Historical Inquiry

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ecbyJBkJAGePF1_mQmHWJd4p6pFMt9_X7h9uartdkm0/edit?usp=sharing

50 Minute Inquiry

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1DyGJI9YItnSdbSMf0ZaF8MOwOa8MYbT70BQnvIIeQOI/edit?usp=sharing

LeRoy’s Big Idea

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1p1_3IEW7SXET2610u0PDEONsBj8YGE2UyRWdcUveuCQ/edit?usp=sharing

CyberSandwich

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ZjeGTqd1Q7ANksppLlNmyOh9WPVmeu5c3JLtvz57N-o/edit?usp=sharing

Peer Review Reinforces Writing Instruction

For the past few years, I have been experimenting with peer review in my high school History classes. The California Council for the Social Studies recently published my article about this just as I was conducting a peer review activity with my 10th grade World History students. In the article, I detail using a computer program called PeerGrade, which is great, but can add several days to a lesson because students have to type their work, submit it, and then conduct several peer reviews.

This post will showcase some student work in doing a peer review activity on paper in one class period. The essay was an argumentative task where students had to state a position about eugenics and support it with evidence from 15 Minute History and the Eugenics Archive. Before writing the essay, students shared the evidence they had categorized on a Vee Diagram. The peer review worksheet I created can be accessed in this Google Doc.

In two (50 minute) class periods of writing my 10th grade students produced an average of 361 words with 6 explanations of their evidence.

Eugenics - positive or negative

Eugenics - positive or negative (1)

Eugenics - positive or negative (2)

Eugenics - positive or negative (4)

I stole this list from one of my awesome ELA teachers, Mandy Arentoft and will project it when giving students time to practice using transitions in their historical writing. Another great teacher, Keith Hart from Brunswick High School in Maine has a helpful blog post teaching students how to use transitional phrases to present their evidence.

A benefit in using peer review is that I get immediate feedback from my students that tells me who is applying the skills from my mini writing lessons. In this case, I clearly need to go back and re-teach the importance of including a creative title, a complex thesis, and in using transitions. Fortunately, not everyone will need this instruction and I can create more advanced writing lessons for them in my next station rotation activity.  For more information about peer review, please look at this #TeachWriting Twitter archive on the topic. It has a wealth of resources for teachers looking to implement peer review into their classroom writing instruction.

WWI Podcasts

This post will showcase 11th grade US History students’ podcasts on a person, place, or event from the Great War.

WWI Banner

This WWI Podcast assignment was adapted from an NWP article detailing how to conduct a First Person Research Paper  by Cindy Heckenlaible (2008). First students listened to a 15 Minute History lecture to understand why the US joined WWI and then they used the resources provided to brainstorm topics. To see the directions for a previous assignment, look at Vietnam War Narrative. You may listen to three earlier student examples: The Orange Mist Protest Becomes Tragedy, and The Last Moments of Elizabeth Hall.

Decide to work with partners or work solo. Then use this spreadsheet to declare your narrator and story (topic). Each narrative must be at least three minutes for an individual assignment, add 1.5 minutes to your story for each additional person involved in the project. The five components of this project were worth 50 points each.

1) Produce an Annotated Bibliography in MLA format with at least six sources. If a historical detail is not included in your annotation, then you cannot use it in your narrative. 92% of students turned this in on time.

Use the details from your annotated bibliography to write your script. Document the historical details in your story by underlining them and including a (parenthetical citation) immediately after. The theme of your story should be — What is a moment in history that all students should learn about? You may use sound effects and soundscapes, but NO MUSIC!

Tools
BBC Audio http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/ 
Soundscapes https://city.ambient-mixer.com/

Make sure you study the tips in this presentation as you plan your narrative and 2) use this format to submit your story in writing.  81% of students turned this in on time. 3) Create an Annotated Timeline that includes maps of where your story takes place. 37% of students used their time well enough to complete this on time. 4) Write a 5 question Quizizz to share after your story has been heard by the class. Emphasize the most important historical details in your questions and include facts that you would expect to see in a history book. 74% of students turned this in on time. 5) Submit your narrative recording to get all the points. 44% of students made this deadline. 65% of students were able to complete all components on time.

Debrief/Reflection

Describe how you managed your time and completed each component of this project? Which of the resources provided did you find most helpful? What does this piece reveal about you as a learner? What would you change if you had a chance to do this project over again?

CA USH Standard: 11.4.5: Analyze the political, economic, and social ramifications of World War I on the home front. CCSS: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.