Tag Archives: World History

Analyzing Annotated Bibliographies

Recently, my high school students were assigned an inquiry project that required independent research. The first step in this project was teaching students to write an annotated bibliography. Fortunately, I was well supported by my English department colleagues. Each of whom supported our shared students with instruction on writing annotated bibliographies.

Annotation

A common definition was adapted from Purdue OWL’s website. An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of sources for a research project. Annotations may do one or more of the following: Summarize: What is the point of this book or article? What topics does it cover? Assess: Evaluate the source. How will it be useful? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? Reflect: Ask how this source fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Grading the annotated bibliographies was simple: First, I examined the quality of the annotation. How well did the student summarize, assess and reflect on the content of the source? Then I looked at the overall format of their document. Two minor mistakes knocked them down to a B; 3 mistakes = C; 4 mistakes =  D; and more than 4 mistakes = do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Results

I used this presentation to debrief with my students. I’m happy to report that over 75% of my students were able to complete an annotated bibliography in two class periods. Unfortunately, only 32% of the work that was turned in met my definition of proficiency as having fewer than 2 or more minor mistakes. The fifteen students who got A’s averaged five correct citations containing informative annotations.

Moving forward, I could see this activity becoming an end of unit exam or even a department final that accurately measures student research skills. How do you assign and evaluate annotated bibliographies? How can we break the research process down so that students are able to practice these skills in our daily classroom practices?

Reading Next

Biancarosa & Snow (2004) outline 15 elements of effective literacy interventions. RN Cover Subsequent research should focus on identifying an optimal mix that will increase the literacy of middle and high school students while simultaneously building their knowledge base. The following fifteen elements are research-based best practices aimed at improving middle and high school literacy achievement:

  1. Direct, explicit comprehension instruction, which is instruction in the strategies and processes that proficient readers use to understand what they read, including summarizing, keeping track of one’s own understanding, and a host of other practices
  2. Effective instructional principles embedded in content, including language arts teachers using content-area texts and content-area teachers providing instruction and practice in reading and writing skills specific to their subject area
  3. Motivation and self-directed learning, which includes building motivation to read and learn and providing students with the instruction and supports needed for independent learning tasks they will face after graduation
  4. Text-based collaborative learning, which involves students interacting with one another around a variety of texts
  5. Strategic tutoring, which provides students with intense individualized reading, writing, and content instruction as needed
  6. Diverse texts, which are texts at a variety of difficulty levels and on a variety of topics
  7. Intensive writing, including instruction connected to the kinds of writing tasks students will have to perform well in high school and beyond
  8. A technology component, which includes technology as a tool for and a topic of literacy instruction
  9. Ongoing formative assessment of students, which is informal, often daily assessment of how students are progressing under current instructional practices
  10. Extended time for literacy, which includes approximately two to four hours of literacy instruction and practice that takes place in language arts and content-area classes
  11. Professional development that is both long term and ongoing
  12. Ongoing summative assessment of students and programs, which is more formal and provides data that are reported for accountability and research purposes
  13. Teacher teams, which are interdisciplinary teams that meet regularly to discuss students and align instruction
  14. Leadership, which can come from principals and teachers who have a solid understanding of how to teach reading and writing to the full array of students present in schools
  15. A comprehensive and coordinated literacy program, which is interdisciplinary and interdepartmental and may even coordinate with out-of-school organizations and the local community

Lit Ach Elements

Since educational research has not identified an overall strategy for directing and coordinating remedial tools for students at risk of academic failure, teachers are encouraged to experiment with these elements and report out any effective combinations. The authors recommend that three specific elements: professional development, formative assessment, and summative assessment be included in order to ensure instructional effectiveness and measuring effects.

Close Reading Demo

Coronation of Napoleon

Jacques-Louis David, The Coronation of Napoleon

CA Hist/SS Standard 10.2.4 Explain how the ideology of the French Revolution led France to develop from a constitutional monarchy to democratic despotism to the Napoleonic empire.

Objective: Students select textual evidence of Napoleon’s despotism by selecting quotes from his Account of the Internal Situation of France speech given before the Legislative Body aka The Consulate on December 31, 1804.

CCSS Reading Standard for Literacy in History/Social Studies:
Grades 9 & 10.

1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information. 2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary source and provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

Student Handout

Students will think/pair share in groups to collaborate on simplifying paragraphs of this speech used as a historical primary source document. Students will present their work to the class via a document camera and projector. Then leave a post-it copy of their work on a master document for the whole class.

Instructor will circulate and ask groups specific questions to assist students in comprehending this college-level primary source reading.

Annotated Instructor copy with questions

Students will be given a chance to turn and talk with an elbow partner to practice academic language in a small group prior to presenting before the class. To enable differentiation for diverse populations, students have been placed in mixed-ability groups by their scores on previous subject-matter quizzes. Each group has a high scoring student, a low scoring student, and two average students.

Each student will be given a chance to display their collaboration and critical thinking skills when presenting their translation-simplification. The teacher will check for understanding during the presentations. Students will complete Do Now & Exit Tweets that demonstrate their understanding.

Twitter Template

At the conclusion of the lesson, the teacher will model a simplified document. Prior to leaving class, students will be asked to provide a thumbs up/thumbs down to reflect their opinion on whether Napoleon was a Dictator or Democrat.

Teacher Master Copy

Students will have handouts of the primary source and be provided with dictionaries to help understand the academic vocabulary. Students with electronic devices may use them to access online resources such as www.rewordify.com.

Close Reading Procedures

Close reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text’s form, craft, meanings, etc (Burke, 2014). It  includes: Using short passages and excerpts; Diving right into the text with limited pre-reading activities; Focusing on the text itself; Rereading deliberately; Reading with a pencil; Noticing things that are confusing; and Discussing the text with others.

FIRST READ: KEY IDEAS AND DETAILS
The first read should be without building background; students should be integrating their background knowledge with the text as they read.

Nap IASF 1

SECOND READ: CRAFT AND STRUCTURE
After rereading, students discuss the text with partners or in small groups, focusing on the author’s craft and organizational patterns.

Nap AISF 2

THIRD READ: INTEGRATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND IDEAS
The third close reading of a text should go even deeper, requiring students to synthesize and analyze information. They may record their ideas on sticky notes, graphic organizer, or a thinking sheet.

Nap AISF 4

Nap AISF 3

Reference

A Close Look at Close Reading: Scaffolding Students with Complex Texts. Beth Burke, NBCT.

Writing Historical Narratives

storytelling-copy

The Common Core’s addition of narrative writing is likely to challenge many History/Social Science teachers that are unfamiliar with this type of writing. Students are now expected to write narratives that develop real or imagined experiences, and/or events using well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Since only six percent of my class or eleven out of my 183 high school students chose to write a historical narrative on our last formative assessment, I created a task that would increase their storytelling abilities about the principles of Judaism. Instead of outlining, I asked them to cluster or bubble map the main ideas from the textbook chapter. We use the 2007 California edition of World History: The Modern World (pp. 28-32) by Pearson Prentice Hall. Most students had one to two pages of events and people that they could use to create their narrative. Prior to beginning their writing, they also had a full day of instruction on period-specific vocabulary. For homework the students also viewed the Crash Course video series segment on Judaism. Lastly, students viewed a short, online video on narrative writing tips and techniques. The video was played once in class and posted online so students could view it again from home.

The prompt and directions were:

You have a 53 minute class period to write a Historical narrative about the Jewish people. Use your cluster map to provide details. This task requires you to tell a story about a historical time period, blending facts with imagined characters and situations.

  • Use one person’s point of view (a central character)
  • Use chronological organization and transitions
  • Describe people who actually lived and events that actually happened. However, you may include fictional people and details.
  • Show you have an accurate understanding of historic events and details of actual places

I use word count as a proxy for student effort and as a goal-setting strategy. Thus, I always like to display the number of words each class period writes.  I then compare each class mean. I try to generate some competition between the classes. Why do you think period three wrote almost 150 more words than period 1?

Word Prod Means

The chart above compares the average number of words written by each of my five classes.
Number 6 is the average of all five means. A total of 176 essays were turned in.

The factors I looked for in these narratives were: 1) a creative title; 2) word count; 3) main character point of view. During my readings, I discovered that a small group of students had misunderstood the assignment and had made their historical characters into outlandish fictional people doing things that had no relevance to the historical period. In my debrief with the students, I will remind them that the purpose of the assignment was to show an accurate understanding of historic events and details of actual places.

The majority of my students picked a historical character and remained in that character for their entire writing assignment. One or two students misunderstood the assignment and wrote one or two paragraphs from the perspective of each Moses, Abraham, David, and Solomon. I attributed this to students not listening carefully enough to the directions. The charts below compare student performance on my last two writing tasks.

Word Prod Means by Period

Evaluating Intro Paragraphs

This post is the third in a series on how to assign student writing and provide feedback without infringing on instructional time. In my flipped classroom, I am able to put content lectures online and spend class time conferencing with my students on improving their writing. These samples are introductory paragraphs to informative and explanatory and historical narrative prompts I assigned students on the ancient Greek philosophers.

PROMPT #2:

Write an informative/explanatory essay about the lives of the big three Ancient Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Include biographical facts as well as the contributions each philosopher made to Western political thought.

SAMPLE A

Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were three great philosophers. All three of them were connected in some sort of way. There lives were very different in many ways.

SAMPLE B

The three subjects I will talk about are Aristotle, Plato’s and Socartes. They are all greek philosophers. Aristotles, plato’s and Socartes are all very similar. They all play a part of the economic structure and culture like laws and citizenship.

SAMPLE C

One of these famous philosophers name was Socretes. He was a stone mason and philosopher. All the things we know about him comes from Plato. Plato was Socrates’s famous student. Socretes was also known for asking questions around Athens. But, the people of Athens got fed up and put him on trial when he was 70 years old. 280 people voted Socrates guilty and sentenced him to death. Socrates thought they should be paying him. But, unfortunately he died by drinking poison.

PROMPT #3:

Write a historical narrative retelling the Suicide of Socrates from one character’s point of view (Socrates, Apollodorus, or Crito). Tell the story of why Socrates was put on trial, what happened at the trial, and what happened at the end of the trial.

SAMPLE A

When Socrates was 70 years old, he was put on trial. He was accused of corrupting the city’s youth and failing to respect the gods. In the jury there was 501 citizens. The jurors condemned him to death.

SAMPLE B

I am Socrates, I was an Athenian stonemason and philosopher. Most of what people know about me comes from my most famous student Plato. I didn’t write any books instead. I went to the marketplace and questioned citizens about their beliefs. I often ask the question “What is the greatest good?” To me this exam of questions was a way to help others seek truth and self knowledge, but to Athenians such questions threatened accepted traditions.

SAMPLE C

The year was 399, I had to stand in front of 500 of my fellow Athenians. I was trialed for supposedly “corrupting the youth.” How outrages! All I did was spread my thoughts and teachings! Anyways, I knew, if I were to be guilty, I might be given the death penalty. The trial took place in the heart of Athens. Many people knew who I was. I am 70 years old. I had many anti-democratic points of view, that might have brought me here.

As I conference with each student, I will employ rubrics from the Literacy Design Collaborative that evaluate argumentative, informative, and narrative writing. Students will assess themselves first, before I comment on their work. Adhering to Mike Schmoker’s advice from Write More, Grade Less – I will only provide feedback on improving introductory paragraphs and will ask them to revise and complete this assignment.

Evaluating Student Writing

Following up on my earlier post on Historical Writing Prompts, this article will describe the results of a formative assessment on the Ancient Greek Philosophers for a 9th/10th grade World History class. This population of students was able to choose which type of writing task they wanted to complete (argument, informative, or narrative). They wrote a total of 183 essays that ranged between 18 and 640 words, with an average of 255 words per essay. From the results, it is clear these students needed additional instruction on (1) titling their essays to indicate which prompt they had selected, (2) specific instruction on rephrasing the prompt in their first two sentences, and (3) assistance in writing an introductory paragraph that organizes their thoughts and contains a thesis statement.

In this post, I will provide three samples from the argumentative writing prompt and ask students to vote for the strongest piece of student writing. Student work is typed verbatim; typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, and factual mistakes are intentionally included.

PROMPT #1:

Argue that Plato and Aristotle held an essentially positive (or negative) view of human nature. In a well-reasoned essay, support your position using at least three of the quotes below as evidence to support your position.

SAMPLE A

Aristotle and Plato have made many quotes and many historians and people argue for the meaning of these quotes. In this paper I will discuss these quotes and put in my opinion. There will be showing if they are positive or negative.

SAMPLE B

The 3 quotes I will be talking about were from 2 famous philosophers, Aristotle and Plato. I will be showing you how powerful these quotes are and what they mean to me. I will be deciding if each quote represents a positive or negative view of human nature. These quotes would never mean the same thing to other people because of their opinions, and how they see on there own perspective. The first quote will be on Aristotle.

SAMPLE C

The meaning of “A good and wise life is the wealth that brings happiness” To me a good and wise life is having money and having your dream job. Also having a wonderful family. And having to see them everyday and having no worries. And no crime in the world.

Historical Writing Prompts

Many History teachers are reluctant to assign writing tasks because providing the necessary feedback slows down the pace of a course and reduces the amount of content one can cover. I think this is a false dichotomy and believe teachers can use writing tasks to help students gain a deeper understanding of historical content, thus, the rationale for this blog and MOOC.

Writing

Since state testing was suspended last year, I doubled down on the amount of writing I usually assign and my World History students wrote twelve argumentative essays, or DBQs. At the beginning of the year, my students (mostly 10th graders) wrote an average of 182 words per essay, by the end of the year, their word production grew 57% to 322 words per essay. These essays paraphrased, or explained an average of 3 documents (out of 6-8 document sets) and contained more three citations per essay.

This year, I will again assess students at the end of each unit with a historical writing task. However, I will center my focus on the Common Core writing standards, which demand increased emphasis on informative/explanatory writing and historical narrative. 

CC Inf Standard

I developed three essay prompts to assess the content knowledge of my students and provide differentiation. Instead of giving students all the same prompt, they will have three to choose from. This blog-space will report on the results and illustrate how History teachers can become writing instructors without skimping on content delivery. Subsequent posts will co-opt the format of the award-winning book, They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, in order to model how teachers can help students improve their historical writing.

PROMPT #1 Argue that Plato and Aristotle held an essentially positive (or negative) view of human nature. In a well-reasoned essay, support your position using at least three of the quotes below as evidence to support your position.

Greek Quotes

Prompt #2 Write an informative/explanatory essay about the lives of the big three Ancient Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Include biographical facts as well as the contributions each philosopher made to Western political thought.

Prompt #3 Write a historical narrative retelling the Suicide of Socrates from one character’s point of view (Socrates, Apollodorus, or Crito). Tell the story of why Socrates was put on trial, what happened at the trial, and what happened at the end of the trial.

In my directions to students, I note that all essays should follow the five-paragraph format (skipping lines between paragraphs) with an introduction/background paragraph, three supporting paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. My next few posts will discuss the results of these assessments and include some tips on showing students how to improve their writing.