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Posts tagged ‘strategies’

Fave Posts of 2019: “Somebody Wanted But So” makes your kids smarter

Most of you have probably settled deep into holiday break mode. Getting up a little bit later than normal. Watching football. Eating too much. Catching up on your reading. Trying to decide if The Mandalorian is worth your time. Enjoying family and friends. Not really thinking about the back to school schedule that cranks up in January.

But if you need a break from all of the free time, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-live five of the most popular History Tech posts from 2019. Enjoy the reruns!


I’ve been spending a ton of time this summer working with groups around the country, helping facilitate conversations around reading and writing in the social studies.

It’s always a good day when I get the chance to sit with social studies teachers, sharing ideas and best practice, talking about what works and what doesn’t. And the cool thing is that I always walk away smarter because teachers are super cool about sharing their favorite web site or tool or handy strategy.

This week was no different. I learned about a simple but powerful summarizing strategy called Somebody Wanted But So.

Summarizing is a skill that I think we sometimes take for granted. We ask our kids to read or watch something and expect them to just be able to remember the content and apply it later during other learning activities. We can easily get caught up in the Curse of Knowledge, assuming that because we know how to summarize and organize information, everyone does too.

But our students often need scaffolding tools to help them see the difference between summarizing and retelling. For many of our students, they are one and the same. Word for word is summarizing and they end up writing way too much.

Or they don’t write enough. Or fail to capture the most important ideas.

A summary is higher order thinking and one of the best things we can do is model for our kids what it can look like. Somebody Wanted But So is a great scaffolding tool that we can use as a model and then hand over to them for individual use.

The original version of SWBS is often used with fiction but it works just as well with nonfiction, primary sources, and textbooks. The process is pretty simple:

  • After students read about a historical event, lead a whole group discussion about who they think is the main person causing the events. This could be a person or a group. That person or group becomes the Somebody.
  • Then ask what that person wanted. What’s the goal or motivation? That becomes the Wanted.
  • Ask students what happened to keep the Somebody from achieving the Want – what’s the barrier or conflict? Write that in the But column.
  • Discuss the resolution or outcome of the situation and write that in the So column.

The strategy is great for:

  • seeing main ideas as well as specific details
  • making inferences
  • identifying cause and effect
  • making sense of multiple points of view
  • connecting differences and motivations of different people and characters

As your students get better at the process, they will be able to work in small groups, pairs, or individuals. The basic version of SWBS works really well at the elementary level. Especially if you have kids create a foldable out of it.

But you can ramp up expectations for middle or even high school kids by adding a T for Then and a Summary area. The Then column encourages kids to take the cause / effect idea even further by asking them to predict what might happen or to document further effects of the So column. (Make it even more complex by adding a second B column titled Because after the Wanted.)

The Summary section can be included to support narrative or argumentative writing skills and could also be used to respond to a specific writing prompt that you provide.

You can also add extra rows to the chart, adding additional people or groups. You could then put your own content into that column, forcing students to see different perspectives. The summary portion could then ask students to make connections between the different groups.

This could easily be done using Google Docs and Google Classroom to provide simple paperless access and sharing. Using Google Docs or other word processing tools would allow your kids to color code their charts – highlighting pieces of text as the same colors as the elements in their SWBS charts.

Students could also record a video using a tool such as Adobe Spark video to generate a visual version of their final product.

The cool thing is SWBS strategy can be adapted so that it fits your content and kids. Make it work for you. Your kids will walk out smarter than when they walked in.

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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Work with Me page.

Historypalooza 2019 – Google Arts and Culture is more than just a bazillion pretty pictures

It comes but once a year. The National Social Studies Supervisors Association and National Council for the Social Studies combined conference. For a history nerd, it’s the winter holiday break, the Final Four, and fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies all rolled into one event.

For three days, it’s about conversations that focus on social studies, tools, resources, evidence, and best practices. So what did I learn?

—–

Kelsey Pacer and Laura Israelsen are my people. They may be more nuts about Googley stuff than I am and love sharing their favorite tools and ideas. I sat in on part of their My Maps session earlier in the week and this afternoon, they’re sharing some great ideas for using Google Arts and Culture.

If you never had the chance to visit Arts and Culture, you really need to set time aside to do some serious exploring. The site is dedicated to Read more

History is like a pig. A few valuable tools that can help catch it

Five years ago, the Kansas State Board of Education approved the adoption of a new set of state social studies standards. Next week, I get the chance to work with 30 social studies teachers as we start a process of revising them.

If you weren’t around the first time, here’s the Cliff Notes version. Previous to 2013, the standards focused almost entirely on discrete facts and the 60 question multiple choice state assessment encouraged teachers to focus on training students to memorize those facts.

Nothing wrong with memorizing facts . . . if you actually apply those facts while solving problems, becoming an engaged citizen, and working to make the world a better place. But that rarely happen in most classrooms. Schools across the state were re-arranging curriculum so that only the tested indicators were taught, often without context.

But in 2011, the winds shifted. The work of Sam Wineburg and others suggested that traditional social studies curriculum and instruction needed a do-over. So some thirty-plus educators came together and spent 18 months creating a standards document that encouraged process as well as content. Historical thinking skills along with facts. Contextual and authentic problem solving using evidence.

And now? Read more

Tip of the Week: Six sweet social studies activities for back to school

I spent a few days in Texas last week leading some conversation around the ideas of online civic literacy, fake news, and the power of the 1st Amendment and enjoyed every minute. This week? They’re jumping into the deep end of the pool with kids. So for them, this post is a few days too late. You might be in the same pool.

But I’m hoping that for most of you, you’ve got one more weekend before your first contact day.

And to help jumpstart your first awesome week, here are six great ways to kick off the year. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t.

What not to do

But before we get too far along with what we know works, it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t. I’ve mentioned Fourteen Things You Should Never Do on the First Day of School before but it’s still a great reminder of what it looks like when we’re doing it wrong. Mark Barnes suggest that your goal should be a very simple one during the first few days of school:

You have many days to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses. You have months to discuss high stakes testing and standards. You’ll spend weeks probing the textbook.

The first day of school should be dedicated to rapport-building and to joy.

Your goal should be that students go home that night and tell their parents: “I’m going to love history class because my teacher is awesome!”

So what should we be doing the first week?

Kids need to be in groups. They need to be solving problems. They need to get a taste of some social studies and play with some social studies tools. They need to know that it’s okay to fail. They should practice a few critical thinking skills. Maybe a little tech here and there. Have fun.

Need some specifics? Start with these six: Read more

Tip of the Week: 7 great social studies ideas for back to school

August Fourth!? Seriously? August already?

I had noticed that it had warmed up and that summer was in full swing. But already the start of school?

I spent a few days in Georgia leading some conversations around literacy in the social studies and they started with kids last week. So for them, this post is ten days too late. But I’m hoping that for most of you, there are a few days before your first contact day.

And to help jumpstart your first awesome week, here are seven great ways to kick off the year. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. And be sure to add your own ideas in the comments. Read more