We want our students to grapple more with content, to think historically, and solve problems. One of the ways we can support this behavior is by asking our kids to think and write to support a claim using evidence.
Here in the great state of Kansas basketball, we use the term argumentative writing to describe this process. That term makes it sound a little too much like the recent televised debates but asking kids to create an argument and to support that argument really is a good thing. We want them to be able to look at a problem, gather and organize evidence, and use that evidence to create a well-supported argument.
As many of us move from a content focused instructional model to one that instead asks students to use that content in authentic ways, it can sometimes be difficult knowing how to actually have them write argumentatively. But there are resources available to help with your lesson design. I’ve shared a few of these resources below. Pick and choose the ones that work best for you.
The very excellent website, Read more
Mission US: “Up from the Dust” is the newest simulation from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and WNET with a focus on saving the Texas family farm during the Dust Bowl.
The mission provides young people with an experiential understanding of the enormous hardships facing Americans during the late 1920s and early 1930s, as they struggled against the joint catastrophes of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The game is divided into five parts, with a prologue offering background information and an epilogue extending the story of the main characters. A new feature in Mission 5 is a tool for gathering and organizing historical evidence to support explanatory and argumentative writing aligned to the mission’s learning goals.
Students assume the roles of Frank and Ginny Dunn, twins growing up on a wheat farm in the Texas Panhandle. The simulation begins in summer 1929, as the Dunn family is preparing to plant their wheat crop. During the 1929-1930 growing season, the stock market crashes and wheat prices begin a precipitous fall. Later, a drought adds to their problems. Over the next few years, the Dunns witness how the Great Depression affects not only their neighbors in Texas, but people all across the United States. They also experience how people came together, both through charity and government programs, to get through this challenging period in American history. Read more
Part of what I get to do is spend time browsing the Interwebs finding tools and resources that would be useful for history and social studies teachers. Sometimes I find new stuff like the very cool Smithsonian Learning Labs and sometimes I just keep going back to the classics.
Russel Tarr is one of the classics. His Active History site (along with his ClassTools and Tarr’s Toolbox) always has some new strategy or tool that I haven’t seen and it’s always something useful. I’m really not sure how he finds time to actually teach but he’s been doing this for almost twenty years.
He has a degree in Modern World History from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University and is currently Head of History at the International School of Toulouse, France. On his free time, he delivers training courses to history teachers in the UK and Europe, writes regularly for the national and international press on historical and educational issues, and is a prominent figure in the educational community on Twitter – where he is one the most followed history teachers in the world.
All of this to say that he knows what he’s talking about. And it just got better. Read more
Three years ago, Mary J. Johnson, an educational consultant to the Library of Congress, created a two part article on the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog highlighting primary source integration strategies. The first post of the two-part series offered ten suggestions for filling your room with engaging primary sources. I’ve adapted her second post highlighting ways that primary sources promote systematic critical thinking and posted it below. These are starting points for you to adapt for your own grade level and content area.
The point? That the Library of Congress needs to be one of your go-tos, must use, constant companion tool of choice.
(And when you’re done here, be sure to head over and bookmark the excellent LOC blog Teaching with the Library of Congress.) Read more