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A Standard A Day Keeps The Admins Away: Standards 7-9

We are almost to the end in this series on Teaching Common Core in the Secondary Social Studies classroom.  Now we tackle three in one!

How to Teach Common Core Standards 7-9 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom!

Common Core Standards 7-9 for Social Studies:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7 Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.8 Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

How to Teach Common Core Standards in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom!
American Regions Centers Activity
 Integrating knowledge and ideas in the Social Studies classroom is another one of the skills we practice on a regular basis.  Through the analysis of primary and secondary sources, we ask students to apply reasoning and to make comparisons for every topic we cover.  When we add in quantitative information, we allow our students to apply the information in a new and broader fashion.

Standard 7 asks teachers to utilize charts, graphs, and other quantitative information in evaluating information about a specific topic.  While some may look at this and think it leans more toward the math and science curriculums,  it is very much in our realm.  How?
  • As students evaluate the battles of the Civil War, ask them to consider the number of deaths and injuries.  Examine the survival rates for those injured in the Civil War to those of later wars in American History?  What new care is introduced during the Civil War that helps to improve these numbers?  (Answer:  The chance for survival is much better after the Civil War thanks to Clara Barton beginning the American Red Cross to treat those injured in war or other disasters.)
  • Introduce timelines with any unit and allow students to compute the time in which changes occur.  Then require students to make judgments about the time period or the changes that evolved in the short period of time.  (Example: Evaluate the changes in rights for Jews in Germany as the Nuremberg Laws and others are passed by Hitler's Nazi Party.)   
Standard 8 can be one of the more challenging standards for students to complete.  It not only asks students to identify the claim (or main idea) introduced by the author of a text, but it also requires that students find enough support in the text to justify the claim.  Many secondary sources will lay this out for the students, but primary sources are the challenge, therefore, teaching this requires great attention to finding that claim and finding the support provided.
  •  Use journal entries from any era in history to practice this skill.  Have students search for the claim made, and then return to the entry for support to the claim.  
  • Develop this skill through writing assignments in your classroom.  As students write claims, adding supporting evidence, they will be better apt to find the claims and support in others' writing.
How to Teach Common Core Standards 7-9 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom!
Standard 9 is another staple for the Social Studies classroom.  For generations, History teachers taught with one textbook and it was assumed that the text provided 100% accuracy on every topic included.  This was not the case, and new history teaching methods require that students be exposed to a variety of sources to make their own judgments about each topic in history.  While this may seem daunting, it actually places the task of determining the truth in history on the students and allows them to become the researcher, evaluator, and assessor.
  • Use political cartoons to provide opposing views on topics in history, and allow students to determine "the truth" through their investigation of the topic with additional resources.
  • Introduce topics with images and allow students to improvise or role play to determine the meaning and significance of the images.  Use spiral questioning to develop the topic further, and follow-up with the evaluation of resources to support or refute the student ideas.
In addition to addressing each of these standards individually, utilizing tasks that will incorporate all three standards will help students gain a better understanding of the topics in history, and will also help them to develop the skills needed to become better historians and better students.

Some of my activities that can help to address all three standards at once:
Coming of Age in U.S.: Immigration through Stats and Images
Imperialism of Africa 4-Thought Organizer
Impact of the Civil Rights Movement 

For a variety of interactive lessons that can help you to implement this standard, please visit my TpT Store.  Be sure to check out my Analysis Activities!

And finally... Here is the final post in the series: CCSS Standard 10.

Happy Teaching!

A Standard A Day Keeps The Admins Away! Standard 6

Welcome to my series on Teaching the Common Core in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom! I hope this series will help you address the standards while being able to keep the course your own.
How to teach common core standards in the secondary Social Studies classroom - Point of View
Common Core Standard 6 for Social Studies:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6 Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

This standard is actually asking you to attack two Social Studies skills in one task: Comparing and identifying perspectives.  Both are very valuable skills, and when applied in conjunction, they can help the student to better evaluate situations and to better understand the past, present, and possibly future.
How to teach common core standards in the secondary Social Studies classroom - Point of View
While this standard is easier to comprehend (by teachers and students!), it is very expansive in its requirements.  For my students, and in my lesson planning, I would break this one standard down into the following for each task:
  • Identify the perspectives presented on the topic:
    • Who is the author?
    • What role did they play in the situation?
    • Male/female?  Does their gender matter?
    • Race/Religion/Status?  Does it matter in the situation?
  • Analyze the perspective for detail and emphasis.
    • What is being said?
    • Gather the Who, What, When, Where, How, Why.
    • What do they stress as important?
    • Do they have a goal?  Are they trying to persuade the reader?
  • Compare the perspectives for meaning.
    • Do the facts match up?
    • Where do the align?
    • Where do they differ?
    • What could account for the similarities or differences?
  • Compare the perspectives for significance (in time/situation).
    • Whose perspective is more important?  Or would have been more important at the time?
    • What impact would the perspective have had on the topic/situation?
    • What influence would the perspective have had over on others?
  • Analyze why each perspective is as it is.
    •  Is there importance in WHO has presented the perspective?
    • Why do you think the topics were important to the author?
    • Why are the perspectives important in history?
To teach and practice this standard, use analysis assignments, class discussions, role playing, and perspective face-offs.  Allow students to form their own opinions, based on the information provided in the text, while always emphasizing the importance of considering the differing perspectives when making assumptions about history.

How to teach common core standards in the secondary Social Studies classroom - Point of View







My Sumer Perspectives Assignment is a good example!


And one valuable lesson we can all learn from history and its many perspectives:  What is truth to one is a lie to another.  No one ever sees the exact same in every situation.  History is what we make history out to be.  It is what is important to us, and what we choose to apply in our own lives as important lessons.

As my own daughter just stated to me loud and clear, "Mom, I don't remember everything from your class.  I only remember what was important to me!"

And she is living those lessons in her life today!

For a variety of interactive lessons that can help you to implement this standard, please visit my TpT Store.  Be sure to check out my Analysis Activities and Response Group products!

Attack Standards 7-9 in my next blog post on CCSS!

Happy Teaching!

Surviving Back to School


Surviving the Back to School rush and the rest of your 280+ days to come begins with advanced planning, thorough preparation, and skillful implementation starting well before the very first day of school.  But more important than anything else on those first days is creating a classroom climate of trust, curiosity, and excitement.

Tips and tools for surviving the Back to School rush from A Lesson Plan for TeachersThere are many tips that teachers can share about building this classroom community.  You can start by clearly establishing the rules and requirements for your class, you can begin by thoroughly examining your class expectations with a syllabus, course outlines, and other class tools, or you can begin with activities that immediately show your students that your classroom will be filled with all of those things you desire from the first day to the very last!

My favorite activities are those that allow students the opportunity to get up and get to know one another on that very first day.  Students can use "Find Someone Who..." or "Meet & Greet" activities (many varieties available in my TpT Store), they can create "Summer Newsletters" to share and display, or they can introduce themselves in a number of fun and creative ways.

MY VERY FAVORITE:  My FREE First Homework Assignment Identity Bags get your school year started off on the right foot by allowing your students to share what is most important to and about themselves!  It gets students engaged, keeps them interested and curious, and helps them to quickly understand your classroom expectations. 

And don't use this assignment simply for students introductions - Begin your very first day by presenting your very own Identity Bag to the class.  Tie in your classroom expectations and your course outline through your "identity bag items," as well as sharing personal information that may help you relate to your students and their interests. 

By the time you have cleaned out your bag, your students will know who you are, what you expect, and that your class will be one they will enjoy and respect through the year.  You'd be surprised how the items you include will help your students bond with you from that very moment on!

Happy Teaching!
My TpT Store

A Standard A Day Keeps The Admins Away: Standard 5

Welcome back for more on Teaching the Common Core Standards in the Social Studies classroom!
Teaching Core Content Standard 5 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom - Text Structure

Common Core Standard 5 for Social Studies:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.5 Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.

Teaching Core Content Standard 5 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom - Text Structure
Text structure and organization is something typically discussed in the English/Language Arts classroom on a daily basis.  And, in AP History courses, these tasks are vital for success on the AP exam, yet for some reason, they are less stressed in the typical Social Studies classroom.  Why?  The writing element.  AP requires skillful writing, while our Social Studies standards have typically allowed ORQs and other "bullet" writing that does not need or require structure for "the perfect 4."

So, how do we address this standard in our Social Studies classes?  Simple
  • Teach students to search out the obvious!  Structure is in everything we read.  It may be good, and it may be bad, but there is structure.  Start with what is directly in front of you.  What is first?  Is it a more important point the author is making?  What is last?  Why is it at the end?  Did the author repeat certain information?   Did you get an overall meaning or feeling from the reading?  Find the obvious!
  • Look for cause and effect.  Cause and effect is history!  Find these examples in the text and analyze them for significance.  More importantly, teach the difference between chronological order and cause and effect.  One may occur without the other.
  • Identify the various perspectives and how they are introduced.  Understanding perspectives in history is vital.  Understanding perspectives in structure is even more so.  Why does the author include certain perspectives, but not others?  Why are some introduced first, others last?  Are some given more emphasis than others?
  • Search for comparisons and their significance for the topic at hand.  When authors directly identify similarities and differences, they are attempting to show a broader picture of a topic.  Help your students learn to search for that bigger picture. 
  • Utilize the text (again, any primary or secondary piece that can be used in the classroom for content understanding) tools.  Very few writers WANT to be mysterious in their writing.  Most want you to know exactly what they are going for in their piece.  Considering that, use the clues they give you.  What title did they use?  Are there headings that sub-divide information?  Are some entries clustered or organized in charts, graphs, or other format?  Are there entries in bold or italicized?  And overall, what benefit is there in the tools the author provides?
  • Always use organizational tools for content recording.  Acronyms and other graphic organizers can help students to see and evaluate texts in a different way, often helping them better process the information at hand!  
    Teaching Core Content Standard 5 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom - Text Structure
  • Encourage your students to ask WHY!  Each and every standard can be touched on with specific tasks in the Social Studies classroom.  None will be COMPLETED if you do not require your students to ask and answer WHY.   Critical thinking is vital in helping students to learn what we want them to learn in the Social Studies classroom:  How to be better, more effective citizens in our world!
 The bigger issue is HOW to tackle these simple tasks!
  1. Provide texts that will help students to clearly identify the structure and meaning of that structure.  This does NOT mean spoon feed them or given them texts that are below level. 
    •  Lesson Example:  When teaching the Holocaust, have students read Elie Wiesel's Night.   But also provide them excerpts from Hitler's Willing Executioners. To follow up these drastically different perspectives, read from Jodi Picoult's Storyteller.  Then, ask WHY Jodi Picoult would include both of these perspectives (and the others she includes)?  What is her goal in structuring her book in such a way?  What is the bigger lesson?
  2. Set up tasks that will incorporate a number of the activities listed above.  Be sure that NO lesson is complete until all of the questions have been asked and answered.
    • Lesson Example:  Set up centers, such as my Colombian Exchange Activity, where students must find and match up information with where it belongs.  Helping them learn to organize with hands-on activities will reinforce the mental process.  And, in concluding the activity, require students to find similarities and differences as they identify the big picture.  What was the significance (or the multiple significances) of the Colombian Exchange?
  3. Address the tasks with starter (bellringer) activities or with daily exit slips to not only assess student learning, but to help them practice the skills they need to achieve the standard.
    • Lesson Example:  As students enter the classroom, have a primary source document projected up on the screen.  Using Interactive Notebooks (see my blog post on the value of this too!), direct students to state the obvious.  The Civil Rights Movement is one of my favorite units for U.S. History.  Project the image of the woman reading the newspaper with the Brown ruling.  Keep in mind, the image in this case can be your text! What is the title?  Where are they sitting?  Why this woman?  Why a child?  What is the author's purpose in creating this image?  What could the significance be?
    • Lesson Example:  At the end of the same class (after a fill lesson on the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement), project up the same image.  Ask students to complete the task again, this time incorporating what they learned in the class lesson.  
  4. Ask students to think outside the box, and establish a classroom where ideas (even those way out there) are appreciated and considered.
    • Lesson Example:  Utilize spiral questioning and interactive lectures whenever you MUST be the one speaking in your classroom.  When you are teaching any topic, give students the freedom to take over the historic character's conversation.  Encourage act-it-outs in front of an image on the screen, or provide role cards to help your students step back in time.  And encourage impromptu and ad-lib performances.  In my Gilded Age Immigration lesson, students use the role cards to get them started, but then the immigrants can become real as the students use their information-based imaginations!


And finally, just ask WHY all the time!  You ask it.  Encourage your students to ask it.  Even prompt your administrators or fellow teachers to walk into your classroom and randomly ask your students WHY?!  Teaching them to always be prepared to answer that simple question is one of the greatest lessons you will ever teach! 

For a variety of interactive lessons that can help you to implement this standard, please visit my TpT Store.  Be sure to check out my Analysis Activities and my Interactive Lecture products!

Find ideas for Standard 6 on my next blog post!

Happy Teaching!



A Standard A Day Keeps The Admins Away! Standard 4

This is part of my continuing series on Teaching the Common Core Standards in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom!

Teaching the Common Core Standard 4 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom - Vocabulary
Common Core Standard 4 for Social Studies:

Teaching the Common Core Standard 4 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.



Geography Bingo!


Teaching vocabulary is an integral part of any classroom.  In the Social Studies classroom, we have to delve further in, often addressing context and specific meaning of terms based on the time period, the historic event, and even multiple perspectives.  Considering this aspect, Social Studies teachers must be deliberate and creative in their instruction of "words and phrases" in the classroom.

First of all, the teaching of vocabulary must be deliberate.  It cannot simply be "expected" that students will "get" the understanding of terms through their use within the reading or within the context of class instruction.  The vocabulary must be its own lesson, one in which the stage is set for all else.
  • Do not ask students for definitions in the Social Studies classroom.  If they are learning vocabulary, they must describe the terms, their context, their uses for the unit, and their significance.  Be deliberate in asking for a complete understanding of the terms rather than a short, dictionary.com response.
  • Utilize graphic organizers for the instruction and processing of vocabulary.   Divide the process into categories, such as direct meaning, varying perspectives, significance in time...
  • Require repeated use of the vocabulary throughout the unit and beyond.  Refer back to specific terms from previous units, make comparisons in meaning from time period to time period, and investigate the influence of different people and/or movements on the meaning of terms.
  • Practice vocabulary as part of a daily routine.  Begin class with bellringers that USE vocabulary effectively in application or for review.  Assign exit slips, requiring students to use the terms appropriately in their response.
More importantly, the teaching of vocabulary must be creative.  Make it fun, or make it more engaging, rather than assigning students a list of terms at the beginning of each unit.  Allow students to take on the terms for everyday use, just as they would take on new vocabulary needed for visiting a new country or meeting relatives from the home country!  It must be an adventure, and one they will not soon forget, for the impression to set and the value to be gained. 
Teaching the Common Core Standard 4 in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom - Vocabulary
  • Use illustrations to help students learn vocabulary.  With each description of a new term, have them add images or symbols to show their understanding.  Even stick figures can make the impression to help a  student recall a term and its meaning at a later date.
  • Assign tasks with the vocabulary, such as creating a Pinterest Page or a Tweet for the term.  Have students add "links" or "icons" to represent the terms and its meaning. 
  • Allow students to investigate terms or sets of vocabulary in small groups.  They can discuss the meaning, work toward developing a way to "teach" its meaning to the rest of the class, and apply the meaning through a number of reporting or performance options.
    • Skits
    • Oprah/The Today Show/National Geographic Reports...
    • Songs
    • Videos
    • Prezis/Powerpoints
    • Webpages
    • Webquests
    • Travel Journals
  • Make word walls more interesting and creative with visual images that well represent the unit.  
    • When teaching about the Civil Rights Movement, have students define and describe each term in "Protest Signs" or "Newspaper Headlines" for display on the bulletin boards or classroom walls.
    • Allow small groups to create vocabulary collages with captions hidden below to explain the meaning and significance of terms.  Display the works in the hall with a banner that asks other students to try to "Guess the Meaning!"
And finally, my favorite:
  • Allow students to PLAY to learn the vocabulary or to practice it for review.   
    • Turn your classroom into a Human Game Board for quick recall of term meaning or transform your wall into a Life-Sized Word Game
    • Play Bingo or other simple games for review of basic term meaning, or step it up a notch with "significance" clues instead of definitions.
    • Divide your class into teams and play Charades with the terms until every term has been reviewed and all students are winners!
While the study of vocabulary is vital in the Social Studies classroom, it does not have to be the old pencil and paper activity of the past.  Transform this standard into activities students will love to participate in at the beginning and end of each unit!

For a variety of Vocabulary Activities & Games, search for unit specific activities or visit the Games & Game Boards section of my TpT Store.

Keep reading to learn how to implement Standard 5.

Happy Teaching!

The First Day of School! The Middle of the Road

Referring back to the words of Wong and Wong, "The first day of school is the most important!"  It is the day that sets the pace for the rest of the school year.  This means different things for different teachers.  For many, it is simply a day of introductions, while others get right to business with first assignments.  I tend to like to be in the middle of the road!

Being a content-focused teacher from Day One, I have always stressed the importance of utilizing that first day of school to its fullest.  I introduce myself, my course, and my expectations with my course syllabus, allow my students to introduce themselves in a manner I find valuable, and I set the stage for the rest of the year by assigning the first homework assignment.  Some find my fast paced first day harsh, I find it helps my students prepare for an action packed year!

Oh, but before you run off from the blog, thinking I am passing out tedious assignments on the first day, take a look at my methods!
  1. My introduction - I use my "Identity Bag" to introduce myself, my course, and my expectations to my students.  With symbols and hidden meanings to the objects I have in the bag, I share my world of Social Studies with humor and excitement!
  2. Their introductions - I always loved the Find Someone Who Activities.  It's a great ice breaker, getting the students out of their seats and used to the idea that I will expect them to interact as we learn together in my classroom.
    • My Meet & Greet for World History, U.S. History and Geography are a twist on the original Find Someone Who..., requiring students to match their historical figure or location cards with another classmate's to introduce the historic character or location they will study in the class, and to introduce themselves.
  3. The first homework assignment - I assign my students a simple task.  They create the same type of Identity Bag that I used to introduce myself at the beginning of class.  It should not take them long to create, but does set the expectation that there will be home-time requirements for the course.  Download the FREE First Homework Identity Bag Assignment HERE!
The first day does not have to be all business, nor does it have to be all fluff.  It can be a great mix of the two, mixing fun with responsibility.  What a great forecast for the year!  What a great first day of school!

Michele