Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Common Core Social Studies--Teaching ALL Students How to Conduct Research Like Historians

Common core social studies will have students exploring key historical events from multiple authentic primary sources.  The textbook will be in the classroom as a support tool.  It will not drive classroom instruction as it has in the past.  Students will be actively engaged in analyzing primary sources to fully understand the impact of major historical events.  They will view the events from multiple perspectives and then arriving at conclusions to assigned taskes based on small group discussions. 

ELLs have much to gain from this approach.  With proper setup from the teacher in vocabulary (KEY academic as well as content but select words only) along with some background information necessary for those who may not have any prior knowledge in the subject area, the ELLs will be prepared to read, analyze, and discuss their findings with their team partners on an equal footing.  Once the team has reached a consensus based on  research, teams will address the demands of the assignment.  Persuasive arguments have teeth with backed up by facts from documents written in the time when the event occurred.  Students display an excitement in knowing that they can come to their own interpretations based on their understanding of original historical documents--nothing watered down or oversimplified.  They discover that they can read challenging materials and enjoy the process.  On the other hand, the textbook reports on events through a score of editors who bring to the text their own bias--it is human trait.  It is not a primary resource. 

READING LIKE AN HISTORIAN  This link shows former struggling readers (ELLs and EOs) praising the new technique.  They really felt enthusiastic about sharing their new insight into history.  The benefits from this approach extended beyond history class as well in that they found that reading comprehension in all their non-elective classes improved.  Their teachers noticed this same new found confidence in their students as well.  They became more aware readers

I remembered when this source was unveiled to local teachers in on Stanford's campus.  It was an evening presentation where Dr. Sam Wineburg delivered a 2 hour on the project to a packed classroom.  The already prepared lessons are excellent and will lead to teachers and students viewing history through the lens of primary sources.  This approach will lead to rich classroom discussions and that will boost the listening and speaking skills of ELLs.  As the listening and speaking skills grow so do the reading and writing skills improve. 

Here is the most recent video of students using Stanford's program.  Notice how positive the students feel about their new self-confidence in tackling historical documents.


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