Tag Archives: historical writing tasks

CCSS Presentation Materials

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 evaluating 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, like the PaperRater product that my students recently used on a speech project.

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 others 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.

CCSS Presentation Resources

Free Plagiarism Tools

http://elearningindustry.com/top-10-free-plagiarism-detection-tools-for-teachers

Robo-Readers are Better than Human Readers

http://hechingerreport.org/content/robo-readers-arent-good-human-readers-theyre-better_17021/

Flunk the Robo-Readers

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/04/30/standardized-test-robo-graders-flunk/xYxc4fJPzDr42wlK6HETpO/story.html

Where Does Automated Essay Scoring Belong in K12 Education

https://www.edsurge.com/n/2014-09-22-where-does-automated-essay-scoring-belong-in-k-12-education

Free Robo-Graders

Hemingway App

http://www.hemingwayapp.com/

Revision Assistant

https://www.revisionassistant.com/#/

Paper Rater

http://www.paperrater.com/

Peer Review Tools

LDC Rubrics

http://ldc.org/how-ldc-works/modules/what-task/rubric

Sample Online Rubric

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/13tJkvBuoufBvNB885ZC8BMbGZF5o4XVuw929_i9Lrdc/edit#

Criteria Chart

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6qmQLlSxgMyWjRjekIwY3FkTFE/edit

Economic Systems Criteria Chart

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6qmQLlSxgMyZ3BnY3ZkX3VzV3M/view?usp=sharing

Peer Review Discussion Guide

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/13tJkvBuoufBvNB885ZC8BMbGZF5o4XVuw929_i9Lrdc/edit#

Economic Systems Argumentative Rubric

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6qmQLlSxgMyNWR6OGVlbk82OEk/view?usp=sharing

Providing Effective Feedback

https://historyrewriter.com/2014/11/10/providing-effective-feedback/

Video Tutorials

Changing Weak Writing into Strong Writing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJMyvwjpm-s

Common Core Shifts

Common Core writing standards require History/Social Science teachers to become writing teachers. Yet many are uncomfortable in this role, they are more accustomed to being experts in their content area and K-12 writing is a foreign language reserved for ELA teachers with their own glossary of terms and acronyms. This post will demonstrate how History teachers can continue delivering content while coaching good writing skills and creating positive classroom attitudes toward writing.

Buck v Bell

This argumentative writing task on eugenics tested students in three ways: (1) interpreting and gathering evidence; (2) developing a thesis, and (3) supporting their thesis. After listening to a lecture on eugenics, students did a quick write where they took a position on whether eugenics was positive or negative, then they conducted a gallery walk where they collected evidence that supported their argument. I was looking to see if any of them changed their position after learning about eugenics research on criminal behavior, ideal families, immigrants, and people with hereditary disorders and mental illness. Lastly, students were asked to take their evidence (notes) back to their desk and explain their rationale to an elbow partner. I have found that having students talk to a partner before beginning their writing gives them more confidence in the subject and lowers the resistance to writing an in-class essay.

Eugenics_Vee_Diagram

My students were asked to complete a Vee diagram, which provides structure for developing an argument. Students write the central question, collect evidence that supports, or argues against it, then they summarize their argument in a thesis sentence at the bottom of the document. I encouraged students to collect six pieces of evidence, so they could include a robust set of claims and counter-claims in their essay. The level of effort they put into the gallery walk was evident in their papers. While only 142 out of 197 or 72% of my students completed this task. These students wrote an average of 292 words with 2.7 claims and 1.6 counter claims.

When using goal-setting strategies to motivate students and develop positive attitudes about writing, it is important to give students attainable goals. I told them that I expected 300-400 words, three claims, and two counter-claims. Most of the students met this bar. Unfortunately, this assignment coincided with a tragedy where a student at our school was killed in a traffic accident walking home. The students who knew him were devastated and unable to focus on this assignment, so for grading purposes, I awarded points to all the students who completed the task, but did not penalize students who performed at a sub-par level or did not complete the assignment. As History teachers increase the number of writing assignments in their classrooms, many of these assignments need to be low-stakes, skill-builders. Teachers cannot read and provide quality feedback on 200 essays per week.

Eugenics_Prompt

The following video showcases a high-level example and a low-level example, plus a paragraph that I asked students to repair (revise) and share with an elbow partner. While many Social Studies teachers object to taking instructional time away from delivering content, the Common Core standards tell teachers stop sprinting through the history standards on the coverage model treadmill and explicitly teach writing skills to our students. Districts and schools need to implement professional development seminars that help teachers shift out of their comfort zones as content-delivery experts into new ones as writing coaches.

Was Eugenics Science or Racism?

Reviewing my exams at the end of my WWII unit made me realize that my students didn’t really understand why Hitler easily rose to power in Weimar Germany. They had no inkling how he used popular science to advance many of his racial theories, nor that Hitler stole most of his theories on racial purity from American scientists in the eugenics movement. These students did not understand that eugenics was the 1900s equivalent to climate change, widely accepted by the mainstream, but vilified by extremist groups.  I blame this, not on my usual frantic sprinting along the historical coverage treadmill, but on our textbook, which doesn’t even mention the word eugenics anywhere in its 793 pages. Instead of re-teaching all of WWII, I put together a quick three-day unit and argumentative writing assignment on eugenics, starting with this wonderful lecture from 15 Minute History.

The next day, my students opened class with a Do Now: (quick write) that asked: Did the eugenics movement benefit or harm society? Then, I gave a short demonstration on how to use a Vee Diagram when writing an argument. After writing their initial argument, the students participated a gallery walk where they collected at least six pieces of evidence. The idea of the gallery walk was to see if their minds changed after examining the evidence. All of the materials in the gallery walk were collected from the Eugenics Archive.

American Eugenics Movement

For their Exit Ticket, students discussed which pieces of evidence they had collected with an elbow partner and described how the evidence supported their claims. That night for homework, they were asked to fill out their chicken foot and organize their evidence, so they could write their essay in class the next day.

Chickenfoot

For their in-class essay, students were asked: Was the eugenics movement positive or negative? They were asked to include a brief background on eugenics, as well as their definition of eugenics, and instructed to write in the third person. Lastly, I asked them to use MEAL paragraphs to explain how their evidence supports their claim.  Click here for additional information on MEAL paragraphs.

M – Main Idea: Topic sentence

E – Evidence: Proof found in research

A – Analysis: Describe how the evidence proves the main idea

L – Link: Explain how the paragraph fits into what the paper is trying to argue.

The students (N=142) who completed this task, wrote an average of 292 words with 2.7 claims and 1.6 counter claims. At this point in the year, they should be writing between 300-400 words in a class period. To my horror, I discovered many examples of the Jane Schaffer method thriving in my class after a whole semester of trying to break them of the habit. I suppose I should be grateful that they had some writing instruction in middle school, but in high school and in college this type of writing doesn’t work.

Jane Schaffer Method

My next post will show students how to use the third person and help them learn how to turn bad writing into good writing.

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

Creating Peer Review Systems

With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, writing instruction will become distributed throughout the school. Writing from sources require students to respond to the ideas, events, facts, and arguments presented in texts they are assigned. Teachers can improve student literacy skills by increasing writing assignments, yet some teachers have expressed a reluctance to assign more frequent writing tasks because they fear it will increase their workload.

Peer Review

Implementing an effective peer review program with free online polling tools like surveymonkey, polleverywhere, and google forms can transfer the burden of grading from teachers to students. The grading process becomes a student-centered, learning by evaluation collaborative activity. O’Toole (2013) suggested peer assessment should be structured, with a learning design that includes “phases of activity, peer assessment, reviewing and reflecting” (p. 5). Brookhart (2013) recommended student-generated rubrics to allow for highly effective peer grading systems. Bardine and Fulton (2008) advocated using revision memos to have students explicitly address weaknesses in drafts and develop confidence in academic writing.

Peer review programs give students practice in developing the skills necessary to recognize effective thesis statements, use textual evidence, and refine arguments. Learning by evaluation significantly improves a student’s self-assessment abilities and lays the groundwork for self-improvement. Thus, learning by evaluation programs should focus on one or two aspects of effective writing, include student discussion to drive reflection about writing as an iterative process, and allow increased instructional time for student revision.

I polled English teachers at my school and found that 39% were confident in their ability to teach students how to write a thesis. After surveying our students, however, only 9% were confident in their ability to develop a thesis statement. This gap suggests teachers need to give students more practice in developing, identifying, and assessing thesis statements. Further, teachers can showcase student exemplars and improve weak thesis statements via thinkalouds. Once students gain more confidence and proficiency in writing thesis statements, teachers can move on and address other factors in effective academic writing, such as claims, rebuttals, argumentative strategies, document usage, and citations.

References

Bardine, B., & Fulton, A. (2008). Analyzing the benefits of revision memos during the writing and revision process. The Clearing House, 81(4), 149-154.

Brookhart, S. M. (2013). How to create and use rubrics for formative assessment and grading. Teacher Librarian, 40(4), 52.

O’Toole, R. (2013) Pedagogical strategies and technologies for peer assessment in Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Discussion Paper. University of Warwick, Coventry, UK: University of Warwick. (Unpublished).