Tag Archives: #ImpHRW

SPAWN Writing Prompts

Students need content-focused writing opportunities in Social Studies classrooms. Writing across the curriculum can be supported with SPAWN prompts. SPAWN stands for five types of writing prompts (Special Powers, Problem Solving, Alternative Viewpoints, What If?, and Next). They can be used to prepare students to learn new information about the topic or reflect on what has been learned. Fisher et al explain more below:

Spawn Acronym


S – Special Powers
You have the power to change an important event leading up to America’s entry into World War I. Describe what it is you changed, why you changed it, and the consequences of the change.
P – Problem Solving
We have been reading about how most people in the United States were isolationists at the start of World War I. How do you think President Wilson can convince his country to enter the war?
A – Alternative Viewpoints
Imagine you’re the commander of the Lusitania. Write an accurate description in a letter format of your ship’s being torpedoed.
W – What If?
What might have happened if the Turks hadn’t entered the war on the side of the Germans?
N – Next
We learned yesterday that Germany has decided to use poison gas as part of trench warfare. What do you think the Allies will do next?

The response below is a student writing about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand from a unique perspective.

Spawn Example

The above SPAWN example from Fisher et al (2014) demonstrates how students can be factually accurate when engaging in historical writing. Please practice developing SPAWN writing prompts by contributing five in the comments section.


Fisher, D., Brozo, W. G., Frey, N., & Ivey, G. (2014). 50 Instructional Routines to Develop Content Literacy. Pearson Higher Ed. http://www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/50-Instructional-Routines-to-Develop-Content-Literacy-3E/9780133347968.page

Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence for how writing can improve reading: A report from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. New York/Washington, DC: Carnegie Corporation. Alliance for Excellent Education.




NCSS MOOC Launches with 1400 Teachers

MOOC LogosOn Monday, June 22 the National Council for the Social Studies began its first MOOC with a free 15 module online course on Improving Historical Reading and Writing. After emerging as an educational phenomenon in 2008, a growing body of research has examined Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). Recent data from 68 open online courses showed overall participation in MOOCs has remained substantial and growth rates are steady. Further, teachers made up thirty-nine percent (39%) of these MOOC students, which bolsters an argument put forth by Seaton that residential college courses are less likely than MOOCs to attract teachers of the topic, as the cost, time commitments, and geographical constraints are likely to be burdens. In contrast, MOOCs offer nonbinding exploration and content that may be repurposed for a teacher’s classroom.

ImpHRW Badge

In a TED Talk that has been viewed more than 800,000 times, Agarwal (2013) argued that massively open online courses have the potential to reimagine education with: (a) active learning; (b) self-pacing; (c) instant feedback; (d) gamification; and (e) peer learning. The NCSS MOOC helps to leverage its members’ expertise and direct these elements in improving teacher professional development in History-Social Studies. In creating MOOCs for professional development assets, the NCSS can fulfill a need that is not being met by schools or districts and help teachers stay current with their content knowledge and pedagogical trends.

15 Mods

So far in the first 24 hours of the course, there have been over 8,600 page views, 400 participations and 144 discussions started. Teachers are connecting with each other and proceeding through the course at their own pace. It will be interesting to see how those numbers increase by the end of the summer.


Agarwal, A. (2013, June). Why massive open online courses still matter. Technology Education & Design. Monterrey, CA. Accessed at http://www.ted.com/talks/anant_agarwal_why_massively_open_online_courses_still_matter/transcript?language=en

Ho, A. D., Chuang, I., Reich, J., Coleman, C., Whitehill, J., Northcutt, C., Williams, J. J., Hansen, J., Lopez, G., & Petersen, R. (2015). HarvardX and MITx: Two years of open online courses (HarvardX Working Paper No. 10). Accessed on April 2, 2015. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2586847