4 Step Reading Process for Middle Level Students and Primary Documents

A recent post to teachinghistory offers a four step process for teachers to use with middle school students in their analysis of primary documents. It offers an approach that highlights the more complex historical thinking skills found at the middle school level.

In the illustration provided, students analyze the texts of four speeches given by President Jackson around the time of the Indian Removal Act. Each text, along with its accompanying key questions, is included.

Students begin by focusing only on the top and bottom sections of the document and the source information that appears there to establish perspective and setting. During the second read, students focus on the main body of the text to identify the main idea and underline the phrase that best supports that idea. The third read involves students identifying supporting details (assertions, evidence, or examples) for the main argument. As students read the fourth time, they refer back to the sourcing information that they identified in the first step and write responses to the key questions in the document margins.

The process can be applied as students investigate various topics and primary documents during the school year, giving them opportunities to practice and build on historical thinking skills.

Geography for Life – Second Edition announced!

 

The National Council for Geography Education released Geography for Life – Second Edition. In a recent webinar,  Susan Gallagher Heffron described the standards as promoting an emphasis on “doing Geography”.

The 8″ x 11.5″ wire-bound second edition is available for purchase at the NCGE website: http://ncge.org/geography-for-life for a modest price and portions of it are viewable online. The three-column publication, organized by grade band ( K-4, 5-8 and 9-12) includes knowledge statements and performance statements. Two of the original eighteen standards have been updated to reflect 21st century learning: Standard #1, regarding the use of maps and other geographic representations now includes geospatial technologies and spatial thinking. Standard #8  Ecosystems have been expanded to include biomes. Performance statements and illustrative examples were also updated.

Apparently, as the writing team looked at the scaffolding of geography skills across grade bands, their eyes were opened to gaps, which they were able to address. In addition to the expanded glossary there are examples of data sources as well as photos and images, all provided by educators. Classroom vignettes offer models of doing geography in the classroom. This emphasis on doing geography involves students looking at geography from a variety of perspectives, investigating the world around them and asking and answering geographic questions.

The original Five Themes of Geography are included within the 6 Essential Elements, which are more comprehensive and detail the way we get to the application of geography skills.

National Geographic’s supporting website: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/?ar_a=1 will ultimately include the revised standards tabbed by grade level and it will be more interactive.

 

10 strategies to begin the school year…

The Teaching with the Library of Congress blog has once again demonstrated why it should be on every social studies teacher’s list of favorite resources. A recent post: Ten Tips to Start the New Year with Primary Documents merits your immediate attention.

The August 23rd post offers ten strategies to help get students started with historical inquiry and using primary sources. I especially like idea #4 where students bring five primary sources from home, draw a conclusion about what the sources reveal and support their conclusion with evidence.

By practicing the inquiry process at the beginning of the school year, students are ready to practice those skills as they engage with other topics.

Struggling with primary sources?

Thinkfinity has posted a very thorough piece on “Engaging Students with Primary Sources”. From the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Kenneth E. Behring Center, this 64 page document provides a very thorough look at the use of primary sources in the classroom. I believe it will prove useful for social studies teachers at all grade levels.

Here you can find information about learning styles and multiple Intelligences, strengths and limitations of documents, photographs, advertisements, oral histories and objects, tips for analyzing the sources, suggestions on where to find them and exemplar activities. Engaging Students with Primary Sources is available for download ahttp://historyexplorer.si.edu/PrimarySources.pdf

Thinkfinity  has recently combined their community and main site: Visit http://thinkfinity.org/welcome. Access is free, but you will need to register. Thinkfinity offers a plethora of resources for teachers, including discussion groups, online professional development, lesson plans and resources.

Fantastic resource for teachers of American History!

The last time I got this excited about a social studies resource it was National Geographic’s Beta Education site at http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/?ar_a=1

Well, recently I found an equally awesome resource; it’s the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History site at http://www.gilderlehrman.org/multimedia#56431.

This site provides numerous resources for the history teacher, and many of you may already know about it, but what really caught my eye the last time I visited was the multimedia section. Here you can access lectures on a wide variety of historical topics. The video segments, searchable by era or theme, run anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes in length. The mini lectures are presented by well-respected historians, including OSU’s Dr. David Staley!

As Ohio teachers are heading back to school and trying to integrate content from the 2010 standards, this professional development resource is a real winner! Simply select an era, theme or topic that you need help with and gain quick access to a historian who knows all about it!  Many of the videos will also work for students.  Lehrman offers a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and there’s information on becoming an  Affiliate School, which gives you even more benefits.

Let me know how you plan to use these resources!

Virginia