Sunday, August 5, 2012


The Annenberg Learning Project offers incredible free resources for schools.  Though every subject is addressed, this blog post will focus on the American history section.

With ELLs being mainstreamed in greater numbers this year, teachers will need to supply those students with as much scaffolding as possible to not only learn the content (history from a different culture's perspective-American), but also develop English skills.  Such content and language demands initially might be overwhelming for ELLs, but if enough realia (video, focused vocabulary, interaction to process information, word walls/charts, repetition, etc.) is included in the instructional delivery, ELLs will do well.

AMERICAN HISTORY  is fairly unique in its layout.  Teachers have the option to select from primary or secondary sources.  This is important since the new common core standards expect students to work from both to complete independent research (as an end goal).  With this material, the teacher can provide ELLs with the background knowledge to differentiate between the two.  The artifact reading method is also addressed.  This method has students approach historical documents as historians do by posing 5 key questions in evaluating the materials:  who wrote the material, where/when was it written/made, for whom was it intended, what was the purpose of the artifact, and how does this document/object affect one's understanding of history.  Stanford University also has created a similar site that approaches the teaching of history from the eyes of historians (I blogged on this a few days ago).

The next section covers all the units in the site.  All in all, there are 22.  Each unit has a chapter for students and a facilitator's guide for instruction.  Most of the sites have free instructional videos.  Videos are crucial to the ELL.  They build some background knowledge to help the student make sense of the content in the lesson.  If the ELL has access to the internet at home, s/he can easily review all the instructional material without the time pressure.  Each unit also is accompanied by historical documents both primary and secondary.  Here the ELL would gather some practice in working with the two enabling him/her to tackle independent research down the road.

To better prepare ELLs to "think like an historian,"  there is an interactive on the topic where students go through the process of what it is to evaluate such material.  One of the items addressed here is how to construct a thesis based on analyzing artifacts or primary sources.  Once again, the focus here is enabling students to eventually conduct research on their own and subsequently create an articulate, convincing, credible, and factually accurate argument on paper.

Another visual to support ELLs is the TIMELINE.  Such a tool helps the ELLs attach dates to important events.  What could be added at the class level are some visuals for each link and brief descriptions of the significance of each time slot. The time periods tie into all 22 units.

This site fits in perfectly with the Common Core Standards in history.  It will excite students about learning history:)



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