Tag Archives: social studies

Does your Candidate Support your Beliefs?

Click the photo above to take the quiz.

USA Today has a wonderful free resource called The Teacher’s Lounge (more on that in a later post), and when I was exploring that site, I happened upon The Candidate Match Game.  This short 11-question quiz will challenge you and your students to take a stand on issues from energy to defense and from medicare to immigration.

The quiz works like this:  Multiple-choice questions pop up on the screen one at a time.  After you answer the questions, your top three most compatible presidential candidates are revealed.  Then, you can click on the bar graph below the icon that represents you or the candidates to see their stances on each issue.

As an educator, I certainly wish there had a been a question added about education. It would have made for interesting conversation with students.    However, there are still many wonderful teachable moments within this resource.  First, we get a clear definition of where each candidate stands on these important issues.  In addition, we realize that we may need to do more to educate ourselves on the impact of some of the positions of all the candidates.  We may also realize that just because a candidate has a certain political affiliation, he/she may not share the same values/beliefs as we do.  One thing I learned from my experience with this quiz is that I need to research the implications that some of the positions will have on our country 5, 10, and even 20 years down the road.  (You will see what I mean when you take the quiz and begin to think about where you REALLY stand on these issues.)

I sure would like to be a classroom teacher right now to hear what my students learned from this quiz and from a student-led discussion around these issues.


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6 Cs of Primary Source Analysis

As we draw closer to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and North Carolina Essential Standards, many of you are already developing your local curricula.  If you are an ELA or Social Studies teacher, you may find this resource helpful.  Created as part of The History Project at the University of California  – Irvine, this one-pager asks students to consider 6 Cs about their primary source documents.

Those Cs include:

Content (Main Idea:  Describe in detail what you see.)

Citation (Author/Creator:  When was this created?)

Context (What is going on in the world, the country, the region, or the locality when this document was created?)

Connections (Prior Knowledge:  Link this primary source to other things you already know or have learned about.)

Communication  (Point-of-View or Bias:  Is this source reliable?)

Conclusions (How does this primary source contribute to our understanding of history?)

Whether you use this handout as is or modify it to meet your needs, the questions help students analyze, synthesize, and make personal connections to primary source materials.  Furthermore, the document also provides questions that ask students to consider questions they have about the source as well as what other documents they think might help them with a deeper understanding of the topic.


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Making Sense of Integrating Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

Helping teachers and administrators understand the meaning of "literacy" is an important first step.

I don’t really understand why there has always been this push back from teachers who think that teaching and reinforcing literacy skills are the responsibilities of the English teacher.  I never took at science, social studies, art, or technical course that did not include reading, writing, speaking, listening, presenting, and communicating with others.

Occasionally, teachers in these courses did as well or better at teaching literacy skills than did my English and Language Arts teachers.  I think one of the biggest barriers is that not all teachers have a true understanding by what is meant by “literacy instruction.”

All students deserve quality literacy instruction. Good teachers include literacy instruction instinctively throughout each lesson regardless of their content.

When I worked as a Curriculum Specialist, one of my greatest joys was mentoring young teachers, observing them, and providing clear, specific feedback on their instruction.  I worked with some outstanding teachers who were just starting their careers.  One thing the strongest and most effective teachers had in common, regardless of their content-area or grade level, was that they intuitively and purposefully created learning opportunities for students in which literacy strategies were embedded throughout each class period, each lesson, and each unit.

So, what does this mean to non-ELA teachers?

I challenge you to take a look at the bullets below no matter the subject you teach and decide which bullets are important for students in your class.

The Common Core State Standards define students who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language as those who have the following attributes:

1.  They demonstrate independence.

  • Comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of types and disciplines without significant scaffolding
  • Construct effective arguments
  • Convey intricate or multifaceted information
  • Independently discern a speaker’s key points
  • Build on others’ ideas
  • Request clarification, articulate their own ideas, ask relevant questions, and become self-directed learners
  • Seek out and use resources to assist them
  • Demonstrate command of the English language
  • Acquire and use a wide range of vocabulary

Image courtesy of Discoveryschool.com

2.  They build strong content knowledge.

  • Establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of subject matter by engaging with works of quality and substance
  • Become proficient in new areas through research and study
  • Read purposefully and listen attentively to gain general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise
  • Refine and share their knowledge through writing and speaking

3.  They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline. 

  • Adapt their communication in relation to audience, task, purpose, and discipline
  • Set and adjust purpose for reading, writing, speaking, listening and language use as warranted by the task
  • Appreciate nuances – such as how the composition of an audience should affect tone when speaking and how connotations of words affect meaning
  • Understand that different disciplines call for different types of evidence — i.e. documentary evidence in history and experimental evidence in science.

4.  They comprehend as well as critique.

  • Engaged and open-minded
  • Discerning readers and listeners
  • Work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying
  • Question an author’s or speaker’s assumptions and premises
  • Assess the veracity of claims and soundness of reasoning

Valuing evidence as well as using technology and digital media strategically and effectively are skills our 21st century students must master to be prepared for college and the workforce.

5.  They value evidence.

  • Cite evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation
  • Use relevant evidence when supporting their own points in writing and speaking
  • Make their reasoning clear to the reader or listener
  • Evaluate others’ use of evidence constructively

6.  They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.

  • Employ technology thoughtfully to enhance reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use
  • Tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently
  • Integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline
  • Are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communications goals

7.  They come to understand other perspectives and cultures. 

  • Appreciate that the 21st century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures with diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together
  • Actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening
  • Able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds
  • Evaluate other points of view critically and constructively

This resource includes research, recommendations, vignettes, and professional development suggestions.

The Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects were built on the premises that reading in the content area is critical to building knowledge and writing is a key means of asserting and defending claims, showing what students know about a subject, and conveying what they have experienced, thought, imagined, or felt.

When I read through the standards, I found that they provide a great reference to guide the classroom teacher in terms of what students should be doing with the content.  The standards provide an opportunity for the teacher to ensure that students are engaging with the content in meaningful ways that will help ensure that they are indeed college or career ready. We know that most college and workforce training programs require informational readings, and to ensure our students are well-prepared for college and the workforce, we ALL owe it to them to teach and support our students’ literacy development.

If you are looking for support as you begin to think about the role literacy plays in your planning, curriculum design, and daily instruction, check out these great resources.

Bringing Literacy Strategies into Content Instruction:  Developed by the Center on Instruction, “this document provides research-based guidance on academic literacy instruction in the content areas, specifically focusing on the effective use of text in content areas.”

Common Core for Social Studies Teachers!:  (Look for Episode 15)  ASCD’s Michael Fisher interviews  Bruce Leader, a 10th grade Global Studies teacher at Starpoint High School in Lockport, NY.  In this interview Bruce Leader discusses integrating the literacy standards for writing and reading from the Common Core into his professional practice.

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How Can You Use 10×10?

As we embrace new global standards that resound with opportunities for students to connect, collaborate, think conceptually and globally, 10×10 could be a great resource in the classroom.  Data collected goes back to the year 2004, so not only do students have the opportunity to gauge the present but also look back at our past. By blending photographs, links to news articles, and a list of 100 words that matter most during this hour of time, teachers have a powerful tool in their hands.

According to their website…

10×10™ (‘ten by ten’) is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. The result is an often moving, sometimes shocking, occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world.

Every hour, 10×10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time.

Over the course of days, months, and years, 10×10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life.

Major News Sources are Scanned and Analyzed to Determine Word on 10x10


Every hour, 10×10 scans the RSS feeds of several leading international news sources, and performs an elaborate process of weighted linguistic analysis on the text contained in their top news stories. After this process, conclusions are automatically drawn about the hour’s most important words. The top 100 words are chosen, along with 100 corresponding images, culled from the source news stories. At the end of each day, month, and year, 10×10 looks back through its archives to conclude the top 100 words for the given time period. In this way, a constantly evolving record of our world is formed, based on prominent world events, without any human input.


Currently, 10×10 gathers its data from the following news sources:


All photographs within 10×10 come from the aforementioned news sources, and full copyright ownership is maintained by those sources. 10×10 uses the images purely for artistic and educational purposes, and does not profit in any way from their use.

How to Use 10×10.

10×10 is designed to be simple and intuitive, so you should find it easy to use. When you open 10×10, you will see a grid of the top 100 world images that hour, ranked in order of importance, reading left to right, top to bottom. Along the right edge of the screen are listed the corresponding top 100 words, one for each image.

Move your mouse around the images and you’ll see which words match which images. Move your mouse up and down the word list, and the corresponding images will light up. Click any word or image to zoom in and see the news headlines behind the word. Click the headline links to read the original news stories. Click the zoomed image a second time to see the image full screen.

To move through adjacent hours, use the “Next Hour” and “Previous Hour” buttons. You can also browse through past hours, days, months, and years. To do so, click the “History” button, and then select the year/month/day/hour you’d like to see. To view the top words for a single day, month, or year, select “Full Day”, “Full Month”, or “Full Year” from the date list.

As we embrace new global standards that resound with opportunities for students to connect, collaborate, think conceptually and globally, 10×10 could be a great resource in the classroom.  Data collected goes back to the year 2004, so not only do students have the opportunity to gauge the present but also look back at our past. By blending photographs, links to news articles, and a list of 100 words that matter most during this hour of time, teachers have a powerful tool in their hands.

How could you use 10×10?


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