The November 1st. online edition of Education Week had an interesting article about inquiry based learning in Social Studies. As I wrestle with how to make sure my curriculum plans align with the Common Core Standards, I find myself focusing much more on building each lesson on questions rather than topics: "How did George Washington's Presidency set important precedents?" as opposed to "The precedents set in George Washington's Presidency." This format really changes the way way a lesson unfolds, and gives us many opportunities to turn and talk, analyze documents and write in different formats (journaling, note taking, categorizing, etc.). I've had to re-write just about every Social Studies lesson plan from years past, which is time consuming but has proven to be a really good thing. In the process of trying to address these standards, for instance:
- Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
- Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
We worked with this presentation last week, and had so many more opportunities for discussion and questioning than we did in its past life as a PowerPoint slide show.
The Education week article provided a fabulous link to a new Social Studies resource: Stanford University's History Education Group. I never knew this existed, but just reading the introduction, which sets out the goals of the project, was enough to convince me that I needed to study the site and "save to favorites" immediately:
The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features sets of primary documents modified for groups of students with diverse reading skills and abilities.This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on issues from King Philip's War to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and make historical claims backed by documentary evidence.
Each lesson is built around a series of questions, and lots of original documents and illustrations make these lessons interactive and inquiry based. It's such an excellent resource!