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Posts tagged ‘literacy’

Tip of the Week: TRAP3 equals sweet strategy that encourages argumentative writing

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with Meghan McDermott while we were both attending a Library of Congress gathering. She’s doing some amazing things with her middle schools kids, including having them write a ton.

She’s using a variety of successful strategies (You’re gonna want to check out her 7th graders Seven Themes of History Memes.) but I especially fell in love with her TRAP3 tool. Teachers I work with are always looking for handy tools that can help kids think historically and to write using evidence. And Meghan’s TRAP3 organizer seems like a great way to help students structure historical arguments. I asked if I could share her great ideas with you – not only did she agree but she sent examples, presentation slides, and student work.

The beauty of the TRAP3 is that it provides a powerful structure that makes it easier for kids to develop not just an opening paragraph but a clear outline for their essay.

What is the TRAP3? Read more

Powerful digital storytelling with StoryMap JS

We know that we need to incorporate more literacy into our instruction. And embedding geography is a no brainer. And we’re told that our kids need to be using a variety of media tools. But we often struggle to find ways to integrate all of this stuff into lessons and units.

I ran across a new tool this morning that I think might be able to help. Called StoryMap JS, the tool provides a quick and easy way for you and students to develop visually appealing geo-based narratives. StoryMap JS was developed by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University. And while I haven’t had a ton of time to play it, it looks like a powerful addition to your teaching tool kit. Read more

Help students find the best evidence, think historically, and become powerful writers

Sarah Tantillo is the author of The Literacy Cookbook: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction. Several years ago, she wrote a useful MiddleWeb post based on her blog The Literacy Cookbook. On the Cookbook, Sarah shares a ton of great ideas about helping students meet the ELA Common Core Standards.

Her original post described a problem she noticed with many of her students:

“One of the things students struggle with the most — and it’s relevant to every grade and subject — is distinguishing between argument and evidence. This problem manifests itself in both reading and writing.

In reading, students often cannot pick topic sentences or thesis arguments out of a lineup; and when writing, they tend to construct paragraphs and essays that lack arguments.”

She went on to describe six steps we can use to move students from “What’s the difference between arguments and evidence?” to “How can I write an effective research paper?”

She outlines six steps that teachers can use to help students create quality, evidence-based arguments. And while the focus is on ELA rather than social studies, the process is one that all of our students need to master: Read more

Save the Last Word for Me discussion strategy

I spent some some last week with a group sharing strategies around the blended learning concept. It was compelling conversation, I walked away smarter, and had the chance to meet some interesting people.

But one of my biggest walkaways was a strategy that the forum’s facilitator used to jumpstart the discussion.

He called it the Last Word. Others in the group used the term Final Word. No matter what it might be called, I thought it was a perfect fit for strengthen the speaking and listening skills of social studies students. So if you’ve used Last Word, post some comments on changes you’ve made or things you like about it.

New to Last Word? Read on, my friend. Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #1: Mockingjay lesson plans and resources

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

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It’s coming. If you haven’t been paying attention and don’t know what I’m talking about, chat for a few minutes with some of your students. I’m guessing that they can help you out.

Yup. That’s right. The last half of Mockingjay, the third and final Hunger Games movie opens November 20. It’s guaranteed  to set records for ticket sales after it opens.

Why?

Cause people love the book. Seriously love the book.

I became very aware of the power that Katniss and other Hunger Games characters have on people when my daughter and wife started reading the series several years ago. And the more I talked with them and as they shared more about the story, I began to realize the possibilities for integrating that story into social studies instruction.

Way back in September 2010, I wrote: Read more

Top Ten Posts of the Year #9: Elementary writing prompts aligned to the Common Core

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

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It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. As a long suffering Kansas City Royals fan, it was frustrating watching them yesterday as they lost Game 5 of the ALCS. Seriously. One run? Come on, boys.

But that disappointment was balanced out by an incredibly powerful learning opportunity – spending the day with a group of educators in the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program. One of the cool parts of the day was chatting with Mara Grujanac, director of the Barat Educational Foundation

If you haven’t spent at least a few hours at the TPS-Barat blog site, you’re missing out. They’ve got some amazing resources designed specifically to support historical thinking. Using funds and support from the Library of Congress, the Barat Educational Foundation created a site focused on the effective use of primary sources in the classroom. Titled TPS-Barat Primary Source Nexus, the site has themed sets of primary sources, teaching strategies, online and face to face professional development, and tech integration tips.

Seriously. Be prepared to spend some time there. Plus you know it’s all good cause the LOC is involved.

And my conversation with Mara uncovered a specific piece of goodness that seems like a no-brainer. Read more