5 min
Here is what we will cover today:

  • Big Ideas in History
  • Planning for Instruction
    • The Big Picture
    • Chunking Content
  • The Context of Teaching Social Studies (TEKS Learning Standards)
    • The Standards
    • Curriculum Mapping
    • Unit & Lesson Planning
Big Ideas in History
15 minutes
Stephen Thornton touches on some of the major themes affecting social studies professors, curriculum developers and teachers today. These themes will likely recur at several points in the semester. These themes could be called the "Big Ideas" in History:
  • There is a major difference between the field of History and the subject of History in K-12 schools.
  • Ultimately, the teacher (the instructional gatekeeper) decides what, when and how social studies content is transformed from subject matter to learning experiences for students.
  • There is no clear agreement about what or why students should learn social studies:
    • National narrative and identity
    • Civic engagement
    • Empathy
    • Critical thinking and multiple perspectives
  • There is also no clear agreement on which approach to take when teaching social studies
    • Broad content coverage
    • Specialized content investigation
  • Students are less likely to care about or remember content for which they have little personal interest.
  • Every single lesson you write and present in social studies (or any subject, for that matter) will have three components. You may not utilize all three components in every lesson:
    • Knowledge-building: giving students information or showing them were to get information for themselves
    • Knowledge-expression: students showing you what they have learned
      • Convergent knowledge expression: prompting students toward a common answer, such as creating a timeline or filling in a chart
      • Divergent knowledge expression: students making a product or giving a presentation
  • Student choice and variety is important
  • There is more than one way to assess student understanding, skills and knowledge
Reading the TEKS
15 min
Let's start off today talking about the raw material of of social studies: the content. Imagine for a moment the following scenario:

You have just been hired to teach at a local middle school. You did your student teaching in the 8th grade, but you are now teaching 6th grade. Your clinical practice started in early February and only went through May, so you have no idea where to start your teaching, or where you should end up by the end of the year. You just finished three days of orientation for new teachers, where you heard people speak about benefits, policies, curriculum, resources, technology and professional expectations. You just saw your classroom and met your colleagues for the first time. You have some maps and globes, a stack of textbooks, a set of encyclopedias, a couple of computers, a data projector and some other cr@pWhere do you start so you know what you are supposed to be teaching, and more importantly, what the students are supposed to be learning?
There is no clear starting place where every teacher looks to determine what they should teach in a given grade and at a given time. This can vary based on:
  • State
  • School district
  • School
  • Teacher
You may work in a state that tests students in social studies (e.g., Virginia) or you may be in a school district with no clear scope and sequence. So, let's start right here at home and look at the Social StudiesTEKS for Texas. The state has 8 main strands for social studies instruction, with several sub-categories:
The Big Picture
20 min
Even though this discussion will take place within the context of history, the same principles could be applied to other areas of social studies.

So, what is the Big Picture? You have probably seen this addressed in other education courses in a similar, if not the exact same, manner. The Big Picture is that planning instruction happens in three stages. The old model looked something like this:
  1. Decide where to start teaching (usually the beginning of the textbook)
  2. Teach it
  3. Test it
  4. Move on
This how I was taught, and it's how a lot of teachers still teach. This model of lesson planning puts the focus on the teacher and getting through the content. You will hear a lot of teachers say, "This is how I teach, and if the students don't like it, that's their problem. They should know how to be responsible for their own learning." This is true to some extent, but many teachers don't even want to meet their students half-way.

However, a new model (which isn't that new) is emerging in schools and among teachers. This model places the focus of the instruction on student learning and ensuring their success. This model looks like this:
  1. Determine learning objectives
  2. Create the assessment for mastery of the objectives
  3. Plan the instruction
  4. Assess the students
  5. Use assessment data to make future instructional decisions
Here is a more detailed look at this framework:
  1. Identify desired results.
    • What should students understand, know, and be able to do?
    • What enduring understandings are desired?
  2. Determine acceptable evidence.
    • How will we know if students have achieved the desired results?
    • Think about collected assessment evidence
  3. Plan learning experiences and instruction.
    • What enabling knowledge (facts, concepts, principles) and skills (processes, procedures, strategies) will students need in order to perform effectively and achieve desired results?
    • What activities will equip students with the needed knowledge and skills?
    • What will need to be taught and coached and how should it best be taught, in light of performance goals?
Stage 1: Writing Objectives
20 min
  • Objectives are:
    • Brief, clear statements of what students should understand, know and be able to do as the result of instruction.
    • Observable, measurable, focused on student behavior.
    • Aligned with course/lesson objectives and course/lesson assessments.
    • Understandable, challenging, achievable.
*Objectives describe the kind of performance that will be accepted as evidence that the student has mastered the objective.

Objectives DO NOT describe an activity, delineate teacher behavior, rely on surprise, detail an agenda.**
  • Writing objectives allows for:
    • A sound basis in making instructional decisions that reflect what we know about student learning.
    • Aligned instruction in which the objectives, assessment, and instruction are congruent.
    • The evaluation of instruction.
All of these characteristics are associated with increased student achievement.
  • KUD objectives detail what a student will know, understand and be able to doat the end of an instructional episode.
    • Students will know objectives are the content to be learned; detail the content to be mastered.
    • Students will understand objectives are the big, abstract, transferable ideas of the discipline that are related to what students will know and be able to do.
    • Students will be able to objectives are precise descriptions of what students are to gain from instruction so that assessments can be aligned with the objectives.
Stage 2: Assessment
10 minutes
Think about what evidence can show that students have achieved your objectives. Think about what you should look for to determine the extent of student knowledge & understanding.

Three types:
  1. Diagnostic
  2. Formative
  3. Summative
Stage 3: Instruction
10 minutes
How People Learn:

  • Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught or they may learn them for the purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside of the classroom.

Teachers must draw out and work with preexisting understandings that their students bring with them -- frequent formative assessment.

  • To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: Have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, Understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, Organize knowledge in ways that facilitates retrieval and application.
Teachers must teach some subject matter in depth, providing many examples in which the same concept is at work and providing a firm foundation of factual knowledge.
  • A “metacognitive” approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.
Experts monitored their own understanding carefully, making note of when additional information was required for understanding, whether new information was consistent with what they already knew, and what analogies could be drawn that would advance their understanding. These metacognitive monitoring activities are an important component of what is called "adaptive expertise." Takes the form of an internal conversation.

Children can be taught these strategies, including the ability to predict outcomes, explain to oneself in order to improve understanding, note failures to comprehend, activate background knowledge, plan ahead, and apportion time and memory. Metacognitive practices have been shown to increase the degree to which students transfer to new settings and events.
10 min
Specifics about planning
Your planning will take place at 3 levels, some of which will be determined for you ahead of time:
  • Curriculum: long-range plan that helps you build continuity, measure progress and reflect
  • Unit: a collection of lessons that aligns with the curriculum
  • Lessons: daily sequences of activities that align with the unit plan
Where to you find this information?
  • State standards of learning
  • Performance descriptors
  • District's scope and sequence
  • Textbook and other resources in the school
  • Colleagues
Curriculum planning
10 minutes
Things to think about:
  • Time
    • timing of state or district tests, including final exams
    • grading periods
    • school calendar
    • snow days, holidays and other interruptions
  • Content
    • what to include
    • what to exclude
  • Available resources
    • textbooks
    • technology
    • community resources
Planning process (Backward Design)
  • Develop your objectives (start with the ILS and S&S)
  • Determine how you will measure (assess) those objectives
  • Begin dividing the content into smaller chunks
Unit Planning
30 minutes
What is a unit of study?
* The primary conceptual and organizing framework in teaching social studies.
  • Ideas about useful ways to subdivide and integrate content, skills, and content information.
  • An outline of teaching ideas that are organized into a schedule for presenting them in class.
What are some approaches to organizing units of study?
  • A unit outline has integrated conceptual components (chronological, causal, or thematic relationships) which makes it more than just a list of possible lessons.
What are some key issues to consider?
Next step: Lesson Planning
20 min
  1. Read through the standards and curriculum framework
  2. Research the content
  3. Then Backwards Design
  • Develop objectives (KUD)
  • Develop assessments
  • Develop instruction: decide how you will teach the content by chunking the unit into lessons
  • Take your unit and chunk it into coherent and connected content topics
  • Determine the sequence of topics selected and determine a time allotment for each
  • Develop lesson plans

Questions to ask yourself:
  • Does this unit build on previous content and understanding?
  • Does the unit lay the foundation for future exploration?
  • Do I understand the historical period, the broader issues, or the topics being studied? Will students understand them based on these lesson topics?
  • Are my lesson topics connected?
Example: Exploration
The student will demonstrate knowledge of the impact of the European Age of Discovery and expansion into the Americas, Africa, and Asia by explaining the roles of:
  • explorers and conquistadors.
  • describing the influence of religion.
  • explaining migration, settlement patterns, cultural diffusion, and social classes in the colonized areas.
  • defining the Columbian Exchange.
  • explaining the triangular trade.
  • describing the impact of precious metal exports from the Americas.
Unit Planning
  • Students will understand: Transferable big ideas that give the content meaning and connect the facts and skills: addresses the question, “Why Explore?”
  • Students will know: The content.
  • Students will be able to do: The skills.
Example Objectives:
Students will understand that:Expanding economies of European states stimulated increased trade with markets in Asia, prompting the search for new maritime trade routes.Voyages by Western European explorers and the subsequent empires build by conquerors and missionaries contributed to a power shift in world affairs and the redefinition of interchanges among major societies in the world.Students will know:Factors contributing to exploration and discovery; the names of key explorers; impact of exploration on indigenous populations; Columbian Exchange; triangular trade route; mercantilism.Students will be able to:Use research skills to find out background/motivation of certain explorers.Analyze primary sources, express findings in writing.
Assessment examples:
Think about how you will know that you have met your objectives.
Some Examples:
  • UnitTest
  • Unit Project
  • Map Work
Wrapping up
5 min
For next week:
  1. Readings
    • Barton (2005)
    • MSSS, Chapter 6
  2. Assignments
    • Curriculum and Unit Plan outline due Sept. 27