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Social Studies Literacy Enhancing your Students’ Critical Thinking & Understanding of Important Concepts in History By Jack Conklin, Ph.D. © February 13,

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Presentation on theme: "Social Studies Literacy Enhancing your Students’ Critical Thinking & Understanding of Important Concepts in History By Jack Conklin, Ph.D. © February 13,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Studies Literacy Enhancing your Students’ Critical Thinking & Understanding of Important Concepts in History By Jack Conklin, Ph.D. © February 13, 2009, Jack Conklin, Ph.D. ©March 6, 2011, Revised

2 Understanding Social Studies Good readers understand Good teachers want students to understand Some learners lack critical reading skills to understand what they are reading Good readers think more critically and deeply Good teachers need tools to help learners of American History become better readers

3 How School leadership Helps The school climate emphasizes an opportunity to learn by: –Aligning instruction to the standards aligned curriculum –Align local assessments (tests & quizzes) to instruction –Aligning the local assessments to state standards & measurement –Leadership that decreases disruptive behavior (Goodwin, 2010)

4 Characteristics of Good Social Studies Readers Approaching a primary source document a good reader will: –Place the record in a time frame (bracketing) –Try to find out about the context of the writing –Look for the author’s point of view (Fox News, MSNBC and propaganda) –Try to get a feel for the “voice” of the author

5 Characteristics of Good Social Studies Readers –Combine ideas from a variety of sources (letters, news, etc.) –Create their own meanings and interpretations from primary sources (what do you do?) –Often go beyond what the teacher asks by comparing with today’s news from TV, internet and radio sources –(meaning making strategies)

6 What should you do? (group activity) Work with three other people (Explicitly teach group-work skills to your learners– chair, recorder, spokesperson, materials keeper…) Design a plan to teach your learners how to be good Social Studies Readers (10 minutes) (Parkinson’s Law) Small groups will report out to the larger group Make one “awareness” statement

7 Traits of effective Social Studies Teachers They want students to go deeply into content They want their students to “go beyond” the material Are willing to explicitly teach reading strategies that will enhance their student’s abilities to learn

8 Traits of effective Social Studies Teachers They explicitly teach learners how to: –Place the record in a time frame in history (location, location, location, aka bracketing) –Try to find out about the context of the writing –Look for the author’s point- of-view –Get a feel for the “voice” of the author

9 Traits of effective Social Studies Teachers They explicitly teach learners how to: –Combine ideas from a variety of sources –Create their own meanings and interpretations from primary sources –Go beyond the reading by comparing it with today’s news from TV, internet and radio sources Pair Share

10 Traits of effective Social Studies Teachers They are willing to differentiate materials for different learners They are willing to learn and use a variety of literacy strategies Allow their students to assume a “more equal position with the author.” (Kids want to be adults and this strategy gives them an opportunity to try on the role of Historian)

11 Traits of effective Social Studies Teachers They believe that one way for their students to get a good foundation of knowledge is to give them opportunities to: –Develop interpretations –Think on their own –Argue their ideas out with other students of history

12 Traits of effective Social Studies Teachers They believe that since historians are constantly reinterpreting documents they allow their students to interpret primary documents on their own They allow their learners to understand that History is “alive” and changing

13 Traits of effective Social Studies Teachers They not only teach learners to be critical thinkers but they also have them question their own biases (we are all biased, implicit association test at Harvard University) Create dispositions in their learners to respect alternative points of view and seek other’s opinions

14 Caveat to the Teacher Won’t these strategies encourage learners to question scholar’s motives and ideas in a thoughtless way? Yes, they can… so only accept student arguments that are grounded in evidence and facts that they can reference

15 Good Social Studies Teachers Teach Vocabulary Too many words (in New Jersey, 88,500 to 9 th grade) Reading alone is not a very effective strategy Vocabulary instruction related to content is the most effective strategy to create Academic Content Knowledge (ABK) (knowing the word “peculiar” is not as important as knowing “oligarchy”

16 Effective Vocabulary Instruction Does not rely on definitions Students must represent their knowledge in linguistic and nonlinguistic ways (Vocabulary exercise using continents) Gradual shaping of word meanings through multiple exposures

17 Effective Vocabulary Instruction Teaching word parts works very well Different types of words need different types of instruction (i.e.. nouns vs. verbs) Students need to talk about their words (learning is a social event)

18 Effective Vocabulary Instruction Students should play with their words (games create positive attitudes) Only teach the words that are needed for academic success (tmwtlt) Surface knowledge is far better than no knowledge as all (Greek Mythology, theocracy, etc.)

19 What’s the Most Effective Process? 1.Teacher provides a “layman’s” description – with examples (Trail of Tears) 2.Students restate in their own words (active participatory learning) 3.Students create non- linguistic representation of the new word (because all learning is both linguistic and non-linguistic)

20 What is the Process? (continued) 4Create multiple exposures using many different activities (compare and contrast using a diagram, metaphors, analogies, looking at roots/ affixes, revise first descriptions) 5Group activities using the terms (Students id “funny sounding,” “favorite” or “most (or least) interesting” words to share, discuss the “most difficult” word, create a graphic organizer using words)

21 What is the Process? 5Remember to use time-on task and fill the small 5 minutes at the end of class with learning activities 5Games, games, games. ( Pantomime words, Pictionary type game, Scatagories, Quiddler, TABU, etc.) 5Some useful internet word game sites : games /www.eastoftheweb.com/ games / game /index.htmwww.merriam-webster.com/ game /index.htm word s.htmlwww.funbrain.com/ word s.html word - games.pogo.com/ puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/ curriculalessons.suite101.com ›... › Curricula/Lesson PlansCurricula/Lesson Plans www2.scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp?id=31324 word.software.informer.com/download- word -jumble- games - teacher / © rev. December 16, 2009, Jack Conklin, Ph.D

22 References Goodwin, B. (2010) Changing the odds for student success: What matters most. Denver, CO. Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. (McREL) Ogle, D., Klemp, R. & McBride, B. (2007). Building Literacy in Social Studies: Strategies for Improving Comprehension and Critical Thinking. ASCD Publications, Alexandria, VA. Marzano, R. J. (2004) Building Background Knowledge for Academic Success. ASCD, Alexandria, VA.


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