Using elementary Evidence-Based Terms in social studies classrooms

Another excellent, thought provoking topic. I have spoken with colleagues, students, and my own children about necessary links between language arts and social studies in much the same way that science and math are linked. Expression of true understanding of social studies topics requires strong verbal and writing skills. Conversely, education on how to present strong verbal and written work showing clear and organized thought and research in social studies topics will strengthen language arts skills.

Doing Social Studies

evidence-based-terms2 As we move into a social studies world that is asking kids to collect evidence, organize evidence, create products, and communicate results , writing skills are becoming more and more important.

But for the last ten years or so, at least in the state of Kansas, we’ve asked kids to focus instead on memorizing content. So now when we’re asking our middle school and high school students to not just write more but to use evidence while proving assertions, we get a lot of blank stares.

My suggestion?

Steal a practice used by a lot of elementary teachers and start training your secondary kids to use evidence-based terms while writing.

Evidence-based terms are simple phrases that support the use of, well . . . evidence. So if we ask kids to look a couple of primary source documents and develop a thesis from their analysis, they have some scaffolding to…

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CMU Robotics Professor Warns Of Growing Technology

This presents very interesting insight on how we present research, cultivation, and use of technology to those we teach.

CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA)- Illah Nourbakhsh, Professor of Robotics at The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, does not help create the types of robots you will see in Terminator-like movies or even in the military.

Nourbakhsh’s lab at Carnegie Mellon does not accept defense funding. Rather, he explains that his lab creates robots for the good of the people, thanks to local foundations.

“The reason we don’t take defense funding, is we want to build robots and robot technologies that we want people to use,” he said. “We don’t want to spend all our time building a really advanced interesting killing machine that we hope nobody ever has to use.”

Nourbakhsh says he respects those who do work on defense projects that affect our lives positively, especially long-term. But for moral reasons, he does not want to help create something that can kill a human being.

Nourbakhsh recently authored…

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So, as I was introduced through pinterest via twitter as I was avoiding facebook…. (Are you kidding me?) But my time has been justified in this photo!! At the back of my desk lives cords to the computer, speakers, monitor, iPod player, SMARTBoard, SMART doc camera, and the list goes on. I fear, as much as I attempt to keep it organized, one day a small child will be sucked in though an Octopus-like force and become encased in the mess. Yet, my greatest stress is when I have to unplug, re-plug, or worse, figure out cord is part of a piece of a momentary technology failure. And yet, this is SO simple and I have to ask, “Why didn’t I think of this!??!”

Source: via Grace on Pinterest

Peer Reviews

Peer review can truly be one of the most useful learning experiences in my book.

While reviewing both Schuyler and Marianne’s lessons, I feel that I just shared all the great things they did and didn’t necessarily give suggestions for improvement. Yet, I felt they each had a solid lesson, unit, and rubric! I also found as I stated before, that I think while I love Jing as a tool, the 5-minute limit on free recordings are really limiting. Five minutes is good because people tend to lose focus after that, but at the same time, then I think peer reviews of larger units of learning should be broken down into sub-sections for review. One way or the other, the perspective that peers can bring to a project in the making is incredible. As we talk about the powerful benefit of elementary and middle school students learning from one another, I think that we as adult students benefit just as much.

Here is a link to my comments on both Schuyler and Marianne’s lesson plans on Jing through They are excellent. I would be thrilled to learn that my middle schoolers were involved in projects like these.

Schuyler’s Review –
Marianne’s Review –

Final Project

In this final project, the greatest challenge was recognition of the way we were to change our thinking over the course of the semester.  Thinking of many in the field of education is simply to use technology to support learning, yet as was seen in our tinkering projects throughout the term, technology can be and often should be used to make learning happen.  Not just to support it, but to affect it.  It was tremendous to take all we have learned and answer the question, how can meet the needs of the students and targeted learning objectives entirely through the use of technology.  To answer questions how of taking learning beyond the traditional walls of the classroom and engage students in ways they never expected, is wonderfully satisfying.

I appreciated the peer feedback and should I rewrite the lesson plan, I would definitely incorporate some of the suggestions. I appreciated the way my peer’s input really gave me perspective and allowed me to quickly see what we always professed, that peer feedback makes our work stronger.  I am glad I included peer feedback in my students’ lesson. I hope they have the same positive experience with it that I did.  As a result, I didn’t change my lesson plan from my original, which really could have been a draft, because to see it and hear what peers’ can offer is so significant.

Lesson Plan and Assessment Rubric

Exemplar for Math Blog Lesson Plan

Peer Review from Schuyler Kidd
Peer Review from Marianne Butzler

The biggest change I could expect is that the 90 minutes that I outlined this lesson to run is really based on working with students with a fantastic understanding already of how to use computers and the tools included.  It is almost crazy working in the computer lab with 21 6 & 7 year olds to accomplish more than just learning to use the tool in the 90 minutes.  I hope that would help other teachers to take time to learn first what their students do know by planning to work with them on the individual pieces of a whole plan for a while. Then after the students have a working knowledge of the tools, the students can use them to tackle other learning objectives.