Cooperative Learning – Zarrillo, Chapter 6

Reading Response: Zarrillo, Chapter 6


Zarrillo makes a tight case for cooperative learning in this chapter. He begins by making the case for why it should be utilized, supporting his argument with research and evidence. He describes different types of group projects and how to maneuver one’s class through a group project. He then presents a handful of strategies in making group work efficient and effective (STAD, Jigsaw, T-P-S, Three-Step Interview). Zarrillo talks about four main components that must be present for making group work a possibility within the classroom, discussing group goals, individual accountability, social skills, and effective planning. Zarrillo ends his “argument” for cooperative learning by mentioning other potential issues that could come up in utilizing group work as a strategy within the classroom and how to effectively turn these issues into positive situations.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • I loved Zarrillo’s distinction between learning structures and learning activities. I personally think both have their place, but establishing learning structures makes learning more efficient since students already know the procedure and they can focus their mental energy on comprehension rather than learning a new activity. Activities can be fun since they mix things up a bit, but they are often more work for a teacher.
  • Zarrillo’s list on page 154 about the different type of group projects is extremely helpful. Knowing the different types of group projects helps me be able to differentiate instruction in a way that allows me to integrate group work while still playing to the needs of each of my students.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

How do you motivate a student who absolutely does not like group work (like myself)? I love collaborating with other people, but when it comes to actually completing an assignment, I want to be able to do it all myself. I’ve realized that this is a trust issue; I have a hard time trusting my other classmates to do their work to the same standard that I expect of myself, and I don’t want to put my grade at risk. I realize this may sound crazy, but it’s part of my type-A personality. I see both sides of group work: why it’s so valuable and why not everyone enjoys it. As a teacher, I’m definitely going to be using group work, but since I see the other side of it, I would have a hard time authentically motivating a student who may not particularly enjoy group work to engage in the group work. What would you do?


In many ways, as I described earlier, I have a love-hate relationship with cooperative learning. I love the collaboration, but I don’t enjoy sharing the tasks; there’s a disconnect somewhere, and I’m not sure how to “fix” it.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes

Chapter 6

  • Share your thoughts about chapter 6 with someone next to you
  • Reflect back to our first day of class
    • We read an article – “I used to think… now I think…”
    • Teaching Social Studies – Past and Future
    • How would you like your teaching of social studies to be different?
    • What do your lessons reflect?
      • The way you were taught?
        • My lessons are a reaction against how I was taught
      • The way you think is best to teach social studies?
        • Teach in an authentic and relevant way – backwards design is fantastic!
      • Will what you teach be applicable to their lives? Will students learn from the mistakes of the past?
        • Yes!!!

Integrated Learning (Marion Bradey; What’s Worth Teaching? – 1989)

  • “The undergraduate curriculum is a disaster area.” Ernest Boyer
    • I’ve seen the struggle it causes for students who came out of high school struggling. The transition from high school to college is similar to the drop off point between 3rd and 4th grade, and I’ve seen some pretty awful cases. :/
  • “It is a well-known scandal that our whole educational system is geared more to categorizing and analyzing patches of knowledge than to threading them together.” Harlan Cleveland
  • “We have lost sight of our responsibility for synthesizing learning.” Robert Stevens
  • “There is no longer any principle that unifies the school curriculum and furnishes it with meaning.” Neil Postman
    • BIG PICTURE!!! Why can’t more people see this? It’s true that teachers should have some say in what they teach and how they teach it, but ultimately, schools will fail if there is no overarching goal, theme, and unifying principle.
    • Possible Solution:
      • Authentic and realistic – teach subject matter, but insert the content into unconventional means of teaching it.
      • Listen to students
      • Broad Big ideas and essential questions
      • Have students solve real life problems in real life ways.
      • Student driven learning – Montessori, PBL – students find the standards to integrate into their own projects
  • “What students are asked to relate to in school is increasingly artificial, cut off from the human experiences subject matter is supposed to reflect.” John Goodlad

Two Arguments for

  • Increased complexity
    • Rapid changes
    • Acquisition of knowledge
  • Organized and coherent
    • More easily assimilated
    • Clear relationship between learning and experiences
  • Goal – Transfer of meaning, knowledge and skills

Student – Brain Research on Integration

  • Challenge
    • Problem Solving
    • Critical Thinking
    • Relevant Projects
    • Complex Activities
  • Feedback
    • Specific
    • Multi-Modal
    • Timely
    • Learner Controlled
  • Contributing Factors to Meaning-Making:
    • Emotion
    • Relevance
    • Context and Patterns

Class – Levels of Integration

  • Connected
    • Within each subject area
    • Topic to topic – one year to the next
  • Nested – pulling things through (writing across the curriculum)
    • Within each subject area
    • Writing across the curriculum
  • Sequenced
    • Topics or units are rearranged and sequenced to coincide with each other
    • English historical novel while History uses the same historical period
  • Shared
    • Shared planning and teaching
    • Overlapping concepts or ideas emerge as organizing elements
  • Webbed
    • Theme is webbed to curriculum content
  • Integrated – Interdisciplinary approach – Problem Based
    • Standards are covered from multiple subject areas


Class – What and How to Integrate

  • What:
    • Greatly reduce the standards – Power Standards
      • No more identify and describe!
    • Pursue knowledge and thinking skills together
    • Literacy as the spine
      • Backbone
      • Good quality books for accompanying
    • Intellectual Thinking Standards
      • Read to infer/interpret/draw conclusions
      • Support arguments with evidence
      • Resolve conflicting views encountered in source documents
      • Solve complex problems with no obvious answer
  • How:
    • Authentic Literacy
    • Guided Practice and Formative Assessment – Done well!

In School? – It depends…

  • Big ideas and Essential questions
  • Collaboration
  • Literacy as the Spine
    • Guided Practice
    • Independent Practice and Assessment
    • Whole class discussion and debate
    • Student writing with reference to the text

Questioning – a means

  • Socratic questioning: 
    • Seeks to get the other person to answer their own questions by making them think and drawing out the answer from them.
  • Concept Attainment The teacher takes a concept to be studied and prepares examples of what the concept is and is not. Examples are presented to students as yes or no items. Students must compare and contrast attributes of the items, hypothesize, and articulate the concept.
    • Identify the attributes of the concept
    • Come up with Yes or No examples that cross the curriculum
    • Put the Examples in the order you will ask them
    • Technology in the Social Studies Classroom

Primary Source Documents

Keeping up


  • Infusionomics
  • There are 9 basic Economic Principles woven into your everyday life.
    • We all make choices
      • Explain: can answer every economics questions with two words and always be right: It Depends
        • Teach scarcity: it forces us to choose
        • Not making a choice is itself a choice
        • Children need a framework for making choices that is best begun early
        • Maximize benefits, minimize costs: opportunity costs
          • Choosing one means you don’t get the other.
      • Integration:
        • DI
        • Shopping
        • Reading – choose your own story
        • Reading – analyze character choices
        • Modify an environment
        • History – analyze choices of historical leaders
        • Science – hypothesizing
    • TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!)
      • Explain: There is always a cost to something
        • Difference between cost and price
        • Opportunity Cost – the 2nd best choice
        • Costs are measured in many ways
          • Material
          • Monetary
          • Labor v. Foregone Leisure
          • Time
          • Morality
          • Security
      • Integration:
        • Social Studies: Freedom has a cost
        • Cost to following rules and not following rules
    • All choices have consequences
      • Explain:
        • Consequences lie in the future
        • Predictability (experience) improves decision-making
          • (Project an idea to its final conclusion)
        • Observe patterns to make predictions
        • Unpredictability leads to inconsistent decision-making
        • Application to sound decision
          • Identify the problem
          • Analyze alternative solutions – select the two best
          • Make a list of foreseeable positive and negative consequences
          • Select the best choice
      • Integration:
    • Economic systems influence choices
      • Explain:
        • Types
          • Command
          • Market
          • Traditional
        • Questions
          • What to produce?
          • How to produce it?
          • For whom to produce it?
      • Integration:
        • Science: things that available to use
        • Novels: talk about setting with economic system
    • Incentives produce “predictable” responses
      • Explain:
        • Monetary and non-monetary
        • That which is subsidized or rewarded will increase, and that which is taxed or penalized will decrease
        • To change behavior, change the incentive
        • Hindsight is 20/20
      • Integration
        • Behavior Chart
    • Do what you do best, trade for the rest
      • Explain
        • As long as the trade is voluntary, both parties are better off
        • Trying to produce everything yourself limits both production and consumption
        • Trade works best when there is
          • Honesty
          • Transparency
          • Expected gain for both parties
        • The gain for both parties does not need to be equal to be valuable
      • Integration
        • Group work!
    • Economic thinking is marginal thinking
      • Explain:
        • In thinking economically, economists coined the term “marginal” to describe the cost or benefit of attaining one more unit of something
        • Do the marginal benefits exceed marginal costs?
      • Integration
    • Quantity and quality of resources impact living standards
      • Explain
        • Four factors of production
          • Natural resources (land)
          • Human resources (labor)
          • Capital resources (equipment)
          • Entrepreneurial resources (risk, profit motive)
      • Integration
        • Talking about Communities
        • Family – resources available
    • Prices are determined by the market forces of supply and demand and are constantly changing.
      • Explain
        • Supply and Demand
        • LAW OF DEMAND


What new information did you learn?

Two things stood out to me, the wisdom regarding grading and evaluating group projects and the time we spent talking about economics, particularly the Edutopia video about the importance of teaching economics in urban settings at a young age.

How has the material/experience affected you?

  • Grading/Evaluating Group Projects: You answered my question in a way that revolutionizes group projects to being a collaborative group effort where students feel purpose rather than apprehension, anxiety, and apathy. Grading students individually rather than as a whole group allows students to still demonstrate their knowledge the subject at hand while showing off the beauty found within collaboration. If designed well, I believe it creates a safe and positive collaborative learning environment where students shouldn’t be afraid to share both their insights and their questions.
  • Economics: As I have stated in the past, I have very little background knowledge regarding economics. I didn’t even know what the nine economic principles were, much less that they even existed. The word ‘economics’ has always intimidated me, but now that it has been broken down into nine relatively simple principles, teaching economics doesn’t “scare” me as much. Watching the Edutopia video on early financial literacy was inspiring. It helped me see just how important it is to teach economics at an early age; it truly can make a big impact, especially in communities on the lower end of the socioeconomic pendulum.

Has it challenged your thinking?

I have been challenged to grow in my understanding of economics. I want to become proficient in its principles and ideas so I can best equip my students to not only become life-long learners, but also to becoming financially stable in a world run by impulse and immediate gratification.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Democratic Citizenship – Zarrillo, Chapter 9

Reading Response: Chapter 9


Zarrillo’s chapter on democratic citizenship is chocked full of good things. He starts by explaining the importance of teaching citizenship and how it should be viewed as the primary goal of all social studies programs. He moves on to discuss various perspectives regarding the role citizenship plays in social studies, bringing in research about NCLB and other studies. After establishing the importance of democratic citizenship, Zarrillo begins to discuss the three facets of citizenship education, content, values, and processes. Within each of these three categories, Zarrillo digs deeper by explaining specific step-by-step strategies for accomplishing the respective task. He closes the chapter by talking about how citizenship and classroom management are closely tied together.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • I found Zarrillo’s point on page 226 (middle of the page) fascinating. In many respects, most issues can be viewed as a pendulum; one side will usually lean to one extreme whereas the other side will lean to the other extreme, but the answer that makes the most sense is typically found somewhere in the middle of the pendulum where there is balance. Most situations require balance. NCLB, in an effort to bring students back up to speed, started to pendulum swing to one extreme that emphasized math, reading, and writing, leaving the sciences, the arts, and social studies to play catch-up every now and then. While I doubt very many people would claim that the sciences, the arts, and social studies are more important than literacy, there are still people who swing to that extreme. In reality, we need a balance.
  • Content value questions (pages 231-232) – these were extremely helpful to have listed and explained. It was also extremely helpful that Zarrillo integrated developmental psychology in with it.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

Back to the Classroom Management – what would you say is the most important management skill or strategy to implement in the classroom in light of democratic citizenship?


I had an “ah-ha” moment at the very end of the chapter where Zarrillo says, “The bottom line is we cannot expect our students to become effective citizens in a democracy if their classroom experiences are completely undemocratic,” (page 242). Previously on this page, Zarrillo talked about the importance of posting a list of student rights in the classroom. I guess I had just assumed that posting the rules would be enough; I hadn’t realized how something as simple as classroom rules could play such an important part in teaching students democratic citizenship.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes:

Democratic Citizenship

Luke 6

  • Promise of a true human community
  • Parts/components of a true human community
    • Values held in common by people on the inside
      • World values
        • Rich
        • Happy
        • Laughing/gloating
        • Recognition
        • Comfort
        • Success
      • Jesus values
        • Poor
        • Weeping
        • Rejected
        • Exclusion
        • Joy
      • Reversal
        • Prize what the world calls pitiable
        • Suspect what the world thinks is desirable
      • Relationship with Jesus
        • Seek Jesus – freedom from being controlled by temporal delights
        • Love others 1st
          • Pray for them
    • Relationships and regard you have for people outside
      • Tolerance
      • Enemies
        • Internal
        • External
      • Power for a true human community
      • “Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans and exclude myself from the community of sinners.” Miroslav Volf
  • 4 Corners Strategy – use for vocab or essential questions

Breaking down an Issue

  • Historical Thinking Standard 5
    • Identify the issue
      • Ask questions
      • Gather information
      • Analyze the interests and perspectives
      • Biblical perspective
    • Identify relevant historical antecedents
    • Evaluate alternative courses of action
      • Identify short and long term consequences
      • Identify what course of action benefits which group of people the most
    • Formulate a position or course of action on an issue
    • Evaluate the implementation of a decision

Information Abundance

  • Choose carefully: WHAT to present
  • Help students know HOW to know what to choose
  • Teach application
  • Critical Thinking
  • Search Specifically
  • Strategies: how to learn/reflect
  • Filter – Everything on the internet is always right

How to tell if it’s fake?

  • Split into grade level groups: 4th/5th grade
  • Identify the skills necessary to tell if something is fake at the grade level your group has determined
    • Skills
      • Critical thinking: Questions about Source
        • When was it published
        • Who by? Author Bias?
        • Reputation of website
      • Analysis
        • Comparing/Contrasting: Compare to other sources
        • Evaluating legitimacy based on other sources
        • Background Knowledge:
          • Know what you know
          • Evaluate background knowledge if it conflicts with another source – Who is wrong? Who is right? (Compare to other sources)
          • Utilize what you know
  • Create a mini lesson that is inquiry based
    • Start with the assessment (remember you need to know for EACH student)
      • By the end of the lesson, students will write a “click-bait” article after studying specific strategies and components of fake articles to recognize false information when they read it.
    • Work backwards
      • Big Idea: Digital Citizenship
      • Essential Questions
        • How can I guard others and myself from falling for false information?
        • How can I be a good digital citizen?

Core Democratic Values

  • Core Democratic Values:
    • The fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other important writings such as U.S. Supreme Court Rulings.
  • Guess the 12 first in your notes individually
    • Justice
    • Life
    • Liberty
    • Pursuit of Happiness
    • Diversity
    • Common Good
    • Truth
    • Popular Sovereignty
    • Equality
    • Separation of Powers
    • Patriotism
    • Rule of Law
  • One per paper


Civil Discourse

  • What is it?
  • What is the goal?
  • How can we teach it?

Put it into practice

  • Lesson Search by Grade Span
  • Move into Grade level groups
  • Each person picks a different lesson
  • Grade the lesson loosely based on our lesson plan rubric
  • In notes and report to grade level group:
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Contribution to democratic citizenship


What new information did you learn?

I learned a lot about democratic citizenship. I know that’s a very broad statement, but I’m not sure how else to phrase it. Growing up, I don’t remember being specifically taught about democratic citizenship and it’s only now that I’ve been looking at the standards that I’m realizing just how much my school didn’t teach. But who knows, maybe I learned more than I realized..

How has the material/experience affected you?

A little about my background: I went to Zion Christian School; their mission is, “to provide the children of Christian families with an education based on wholehearted commitment to the authoritative Word of God, forming within them a Reformed worldview, and cultivating their skills and abilities to learn and live based on their relationship with Jesus Christ, for the glory of God.” As a Christian, I’m somewhat cheering inside, because ultimately, learning how to live for the glory of God is one of the most important things an individual can learn. As an educator, I’m cringing inside. This mission statement gives me no desire to ever want to go back there and teach. They offer no philosophy for how to reach students or how students learn. There is nothing there to indicate that they want to build life-long learners. Overall, this seems to be a mission statement you might find on a church or even para-church website. I used to want to teach in a small Christian school-type setting. More and more, though, I’m realizing that that’s not truly where my passion lies. Democratic citizenship is only one of the many issues that have begun to open my eyes to my true passion. Ultimately, my dream would be to teach in an urban setting. While I realize that there will never be a “perfect” school, I see too many issues with the small Christian school-type settings to want to go into that type of setting and either put up with it or try to change it until I drive myself crazy. Who knows, God has a sense of humor and he may call me to that type of setting.

How has it challenged your thinking?

I need to be intentional about what the concepts I teach. Looking back at my past and comparing that to what I’ll be expected to teach (and what students will be expected to know), I will have my work cut out for me. I haven’t even graduated, much less started student teaching, and I’ve already begun to think about how I will begin to plan for a full year of teaching.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Geography – Zarrillo, Chapter 11

Reading Response: Zarrillo, Chapter 11


Zarrillo provides a clear and succinct explanation for how geography should be incorporated into the modern social studies lesson and to what extent it should be incorporated. He begins by providing a clear and broad definition of geography and how it can include more than simple memorization of places and locations. From there, he presents research tying together the developmental processes of children and their capabilities to understand and comprehend geography. Zarrillo then moves from content to process, explaining methods for teaching children how to scaffold children to be able to read maps proficiently and how to create different kinds of maps effectively. Zarrillo concludes this chapter discussing different ways to integrate technology and geology by using computer-based geographic information systems.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • The activities at the beginning of the chapter were extremely helpful! I love getting new ideas that inspire and expand what is beginning to enter my understanding.
  • About when Zarrillo started talking about map symbols (page 283), I began to realize that geography is the literacy portion of social studies. Just like in learning how to read English, one must successfully engage in decoding, fluency, and comprehension to be proficient. The same thing is with geography! Reading map symbols is the decoding part of social studies and plays an important part in the comprehension portion of social studies. Without geography (and map symbols more specifically), social studies can easily become a confusing, nonsensical mess, especially for a young mind. Helping to develop literacy regarding geography can unlock unlimited potential in regards to social studies!

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

On page 290, Zarrillo outlines the pre-implementation planning stage of a GIS Project/Unit. His first step makes sense to me. His second step doesn’t not make sense, but I’m curious as to why; what is Zarrillo’s reasoning for using additional sources? I’m not questioning the method, I just didn’t see an explanation/justification for this step and I’m curious. What are the benefits? Are there any drawbacks?


I went into this chapter thinking I was “good” at geography. Then I read the different skills involved in geography. Nope. My elementary teachers skipped a big chunk of geography instruction. I was “good” at geography because I could easily remember visuals and maps were exactly that – a visual representation. But ask my elementary or middle school self to draw conclusions based on data represented in a map – I definitely missed out on that skill.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes – Stations

Station 1-G

Sharpen those Geography Skills – start a document called Geography Skills – Do #1 OR #2 depending on your preference and then continue on to #3 and #4.

  1. Early Elem focus – Adventure Island – complete the activity. Take a screen shot or a snip of the final screen and save it to your document.
    • Would you use this game in your classroom? Why or why not?
  2. Middle and Upper Level – Geography Pods
    • Be sure to go to the link in the lesson for GapMinder and try the bubble tool – try tracing a few countries through time
    • Would you use portions of this lesson or the gapminder in your class? Why or why not?
      • YES!!!! The geography lesson was really neat. I really liked the drawing a map from memory after certain intervals – great way to build visual memory skills and mental map skills.
      • The gapminder is really cool, but it would need quite a bit of support and direct/specific instructions to be effective.
  3. Latitude and longitude
    • Try one of the following latitude and longitude games. Take a snip or a screen shot of your final score and include it in your word doc.
    • Would you use this game in your classroom? Why or why not?
      • Yes! Fun and interactive  

Station 2-G:

How well do you know your states and capitals?

  • Create up a word doc called States and Capitals
  • States & Capitals
  • Test your skill at both states and capitals
  • In the column for Capitals
    • Try the Beginner level (1) and one other level (2, 3, or 4)
    • Take a screenshot or a snip of your final score for each round
  • In the column for States
    • Try the Beginner level (1) and one other level (2, 3, or 4)
    • Take a screenshot or a snip of your final score for each round

Station 3-G:

Fix the 5 Themes

  • Find a partner and form a group.
  • Each of you create a word doc called Fix the 5 Themes
  • Locate the 5 Themes Power Point in Moodle and take a close look at the whole thing. Answer the following questions in your notes:
    • What do you notice?
      • Boring, colors are not engaging. Looks like a business seminar lecture, their version of PowerPoint needs to be updated, too many words, font is too small, just plain not interesting, pictures are too small and scattered, aside from bullet points there isn’t much organization.
    • How relevant or engaging would the learning be?
      • Not relevant and not engaging
    • Is there a clear and authentic Big Idea or Essential question?
      • No
    • Choose one of the five themes from the ppt to fix
      • Assign the roles below (each person takes 2 roles)
        • Partner: Katie
      • Individually brainstorm ideas based on the roles you selected. Note those behind the roles you were assigned.  ROLES:
        • Big Idea person – come up with a second big idea/essential question (besides the theme itself) that can help tie the lesson together.
          • Big Idea: Oh the Places You’ll Go!
          • Essential Question:
            • How do we find where we are?
            • How do we give clear directions?
        • Inquiry Expert – this person will make sure that there is at least one opportunity for students to construct the information before being told it
          • Students will work in two groups. The goal of both groups is the same: To get a student to be able to find an object. One student from each group will go out into the hallway. They will not be able to see where their group places the object. The first group’s person will be blindfolded, and the group will have to guide them to the object (Relative location: In front of you, to the right, etc). The second group will have their desks set up in rows. They will hide the object in one of the desks. When the person comes back in, they will need to figure out how to get that person to find the object. They can either say the name of the person’s desk that it’s in, or they can describe based on how many desks forward and to the left or right it is. This will convey latitude and longitude, or something similar to a street address.
        • Relevancy Expert – this person will make sure there is a direct connection that students can make between the topic and their lives
          • Name 4-5 places where you spend most of your time (school, home, church, friend’s house, grandparents, etc…)
          • Create a mental map for where each of these places are located
          • Describe relative location
            • Draw a picture with landmarks
          • Look up actual locations: Modify Mental Map
          • Give Directions to each place in one or two of the following ways:
            • Create a video giving directions by landmarks or by distance
            • Create GPS directions using street names (can talk in an accent if desired)
        • Assessment Expert – this person will make sure there is a diagnostic assessment at the beginning to quickly see what students know or don’t know, a formative assessment, and a post test.
          • Diagnostic: I will show students a “You are Here” map from a mall. They will write on a Post-It note a description of the location that the “You are Here” arrow is pointing to.
          • Formative: Students will create a T-Chart recording their observations from the inquiry activity. They will then connect their observations to what they learn about absolute and relative location.
          • Post-Test: Students will apply what they have learned about absolute and relative location by looking at the same “You are Here” map and describing the absolute and relative location. They will also evaluate which one is easier, harder, and more useful in that situation. They will also offer an alternative way to describe it. 

  Station 4-G: Mental Map

  • What do you know about Michigan?
  • WITHOUT looking online or anywhere else – take a blank piece of paper and draw (to the best of your ability) a map of Michigan?
  • Add to it any detail that you know (WITHOUT looking it up): political features (cities, counties, etc.) physical features (mountains, rivers, lakes, vegetation types), economic (resources, crops) and historic (religions, events, wars, people groups, Native American tribes, current events)
  • Go to World History Connected and read the article. Why does the author think producing mental maps is better than doing fill in the blank maps?
  • Example using Africa and how maps improve after study.

Station 5-G: Map who you are

  • Take a blank piece of paper.
  • Answer the following questions on the back of your paper.
    • What city were you born in?
    • What is your last name?
    • Who is the favorite pet you ever had?
    • Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?
    • What is your favorite family tradition?
    • What is an important thing that has happened in your life?
    • What is something you are talented at?
    • What is your favorite sports team?
    • If you could go anywhere where would it be? What is the geography like there?
  • Incorporate your answers to the above questions into a map that depicts your life. Represent your answers with different land features or locations on the map. Create symbols and a key that helps explain the locations.
  • Check out Art Teacher for more examples and a rubric.

 Station 6-G: Would you use this lesson?

  • National Geographic Map Skills
  • Select the Grade Level area you are most interested in teaching. Each grade level has 5+ lessons.
    • Grade Level: 2nd-5th
  • Open a word document and call it National Geographic.
  • Select 3 lessons and summarize them.
    • Lesson: Many Ways to Name A Place
      • Students analyze maps of places from neighborhood to world and then create maps for the locations of their own homes at multiple scales
    • Lesson: Analyze a Community Map
      • Students make observations and gather information over several days or sessions. Then they summarize reasons why public services are located where they are.
    • Lesson: Mapping Landforms
      • Students analyze landform maps of a state and the United States. They research and map states’ landforms and then create a display.
  • Out of the three lessons you selected; which ones would you use and why?
    • Lesson: Analyze a Community Map
      • I like the structure – it starts with identifying and discussing student’s background knowledge. It moves to walking around the neighborhood – a primary source – to revise their mental maps. They continue to expand their map area using GIS. Student Discovery focused.
  • How would you tweak?

Station 1-T: Infographics gone wild!

  • PiktoChart
  • Venngage
  • Easel
  • Visme
  • Try one of the above infographics sites.
  • Create an info graphic based on any one of the lessons you have written or on a social studies topic.
  • The infographic must include at least 3 different elements 

Station 2-T: Wobble with Weebly but don’t fall down!

  1. Look over the lessons you have created for this class. Pick a lesson where you had students utilizing documents or resources online. Your task is to create a website where students can go to in order to access the resources without having to search the web for them.
  2. Go to for a free trial.
  3. Create a website that has three tabs using the titles below. OR use tab titles that work with your lesson
    1. Resources
    2. Instructions
    3. More stuff
  4. In the resources section include at least three resources that your students can use. Either as links or as downloadable articles.
  5. Add some graphics and pictures to your website

Station 3-T: Cause & Effect Graphic Organizer

  • Create a cause & effect graphic organizer that you could use in your classroom
  • It must contain at least three different places for students to fill in
  • Be sure the words Cause and Effect appear on the organizer
  • Add your own special touch that reflects your classroom.

Station 4-T: Excelling!

  1. Open the Excel spreadsheet called Station 1.
  2. If you don’t know how to complete these skills, use Google to help you out.
  3. Complete the following tasks:
    1. Reorder the students in alphabetic order by last name
    2. Bold the standard titles
    3. Highlight Hannah Cruise’s name and scores in yellow
    4. Insert a row in the right spot for a new student – Amil Shaquar. Amil received a score of 5, 7, 2, 3, 8 in Standards 1-5.
    5. Create a row at the end of the data that gives an average score for each standard
    6. Create a column at the end of the data that gives the total score (sum) for each student
    7. Create a bar graph that includes all 5 standards and shows the average score for the class by standard. Name the Chart Standards
    8. Create a pie chart for Ralph Moore that depicts his scores for each of the standards.
  4. Print your spreadsheet and hand it in. Make sure the charts are not split in half on the paper.

 Station 5-T: And the survey says…

Station 6-T: It’s a Funny Life

Station 7-T: Bring your game face

  • Use a jeopardy, wheel of fortune, smarter than a 5th grader or other game template to create a review game for your students.
  • Use a topic from one of your lesson plans.
  • Get your categories in and at least five questions or items for just one of the categories.

Station 8-T: – ABC Explorers

  • Go to All about Explorers 
  • Open up a word doc called All About Explorers
    • Click the link called Treasure Hunts
      • Conduct at least three treasure hunts on three different explorers each with different color dots – select at least one Purple dotted explorer one Brownish dot and one Red dot (you may do more if you like). Be sure to read the whole article on the explorer and answer the questions from the treasure hunt in your document.
      • Christopher Columbus (blue)
        • When and where was Christopher Columbus Born?
          • All About Explorers: 1951, Sydney, Australia
          • Zoom Explorers: N/A
        • In what year did Christopher Columbus set sail on his first voyage?
          • All About Explorers: N/A
          • Zoom Explorers: 1942
        • When did Columbus die?
          • All About Explorers: 1906, Valladolid, Spain
          • Zoom Explorers: N/A
        • What were the similarities and differences in the information you found on the two sites?
          • The “All about Explorers” website gave more personal information whereas the “Zoom Explorers” website gave exploration details without the personal information.
      • Vasco da Gama (green)
        • When and where was Vasco da Gama born?
          • All About Explorers: 1460, Sines, Germany
          • Zoom Explorers: 1460
        • How many ships did da Gama take on his second voyage to India?
          • All About Explorers: 3 ships, Challenger, the Discovery, and the Enterprise
          • Zoom Explorers: 20 ships (anticipated problems from Muslim traders)
        • What important event happened to da Gama in 1524?
          • All About Explorers: named the Governor of India and remained in power for more than twenty years until his death.
          • Zoom Explorers: Vasco da Gama of an illness in India on December 24, 1524.
        • What were the similarities and differences in the information you found on the two sites?
          • Stark difference in facts. The one website claimed da Gama sailed 3 ships on his second trip, the second website claimed he took 20 ships. The one website claimed he was named governor of India in 1524, the other claimed he died. This could be extremely confusing for students!
      • Francisco Pizarro (red)
        • When and where was Francisco Pizarro born?
          • All About Explorers: 1478, Trujillo, Spain
          • Zoom Explorers: 1478
        • What coast of Central and South America did Pizarro explore?
          • All About Explorers: N/A
          • Zoom Explorers: Coast of the Pacific Ocean; West Coast
        • Why was Pizarro assassinated?
          • All About Explorers: Atahaulpa’s cousin killed him because he was jealous of his power and wealth
          • Zoom Explorers: his captain wanted to seize Lima for its riches.
        • What were the similarities and differences in the information you found on the two sites?
          • Details were not super clear; the “stories” of Pizzaro told by both websites made the information more interesting to read, but at what cost? Inference of history without the foundation of facts can lead to a distorted perspective.
    • Click the For Teachers link and check out the Lessons listed. Look at one and answer the following questions:
      • What do you like about them?
        • Just Because It’s Out There Doesn’t Mean it’s Good
          • Students work in groups to collaborate – especially important in discovery learning; students like to have another mind working with them to make it easier to take a “risk” when it comes to learning.
          • Teaching Digital Citizenship is always good!
          • Discussion is good – helps verify student discoveries and provides teacher with an idea of student discovery.
            • Lists key points for the teacher to bring out – student-based lesson
          • Focused and controlled – this is such an important lesson, but it would be extremely difficult to teach this lesson in an effective manner without the controlled environment – otherwise students could easily be lead down a bad path on the internet – yikes!
      • What portions of each would you use? Why?


What new information was learned?

My mind was opened up to a world of possibilities regarding technology integration with geography. Sure, I knew the resources were out there somewhere, but I hadn’t thought twice about “hunting them down.”

How has the material/experience affected me?

I’m excited about the potential these resources can bring, but I’m also slightly apprehensive – while I was going through some of these activities, I found myself skimming through simply to find the right answers or to fill in the blanks – while I can easily justify this for myself every now and again, I recognize that I won’t get much out of the activity if I’m not actively engaged in it – I want my students to be actively engaged as opposed to simply seeking out answers just to fill in the blanks, turn in the answers, and get a good grade.

How has it challenged my thinking?

I’m challenged to make more of an effort to incorporate specific technological resources into my unit and lesson plans.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

History – Zarrillo, Chapter 10

Reading Response: Zarrillo, Chapter 10


Zarrillo, in chapter 10, discusses the role of history under the social studies umbrella. He briefly introduces the controversy surrounding the ability of young children to understand and comprehend history and follows that up with research supporting both sides of the argument, that children should not be taught historical concepts until at least grade six, and that children have an unexpected ability to understand and comprehend history as young as kindergarten and first grade. With that as his foundation, Zarrillo outlines the national history standards and lists the main concepts and skills that should be covered throughout an elementary social studies curriculum that includes history. Zarrillo closes the chapter by talking about different teaching strategies, methods, and practices.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

Lists!! Zarrillo uses lists quite often in this chapter and they have been extremely beneficial in helping me remember the information he is trying to convey. For example, his list on the eight history content standards for a K-4 classroom really helps me see the big picture, which allows me to be more effective in my planning. He also lists the processes and skills students should be able to achieve at the end of elementary school. This also contributes to more effective planning in the future. He provides a list for effective teaching methods – also extremely helpful! His list that goes through a teaching sequence for when using a primary source. He gives a list for how to evaluate whether a text is good for using in a history lesson, and his final list is about how to effectively use timelines in the classroom. So many lists! And they are all so wonderful!!

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

On page 258, the third bullet point down, Zarrillo talks about using a variety of lesson plans and teaching sequences. I understand that in determining the way we are going to assess and ultimately teach, we need to determine the importance of what we are teaching. I also realize that different content areas require different teaching sequences/methods (reading and literacy should be directly modeled whereas science and social studies can be more “relaxed” and discovery-based). How then do I bring in multiple kinds of teaching styles within social studies and history? In regards to social studies, is there ever anything I will need to directly model or can it be mostly discovery based?


Playing off of my “thoughtful and authentic question,” I guess I assumed that social studies should always be discovery/inquiry based as it allows for deep learning about a subject that most students assume to be dry and monotonous.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes

  • Differentiated Instruction Revisited
    • What teachers prepare:
      • Content
        • Knowledge, concepts, skills
        • Delivery formats:
          • Video, reading, lectures, audio
      • Process (formative assessment)
        • How students make sense
        • Options:
          • TPS (think, pair, share)
          • Journal
          • Partner Talk
          • Act it out
      • Product/Learning Artifacts (summative assessment)
        • Choice of format for showing what was learned
    • How students engage
      • Readiness
        • Current skill level – reading, thinking
        • Current knowledge level
        • Current ability to grasp the concept
      • Interests
        • Choices
        • Background of students – experience
      • Learning Profile
        • Brain Intelligences
        • Preferred learning style

Does it make sense?

  • It’s sinking in a little bit more, but I’m still struggling (but less than before!)
  • I’m still struggling with the “process” part of things, but knowing that it’s the formative part of the lesson as opposed to the summative helps a lot.
  • I’m also struggling with the “readiness” part – I understand it as a separate concept, but I get confused when putting it with content, process, and product/learning artifacts.
  • This is a LOT of work!!

Teaching History

  • Sticky History
  • What is thinking?
    • Some Possibilities:
      • Observing closely and describing what’s there
      • Building explanations and interpretations
      • Reasoning with evidence
      • Making connections
      • Considering different viewpoints and perspectives
      • Capturing the heart and forming conclusions
      • Wondering and asking questions
      • Uncovering complexity and going below the surface of things
      • Identifying patterns and making generalizations
      • Generating possibilities and alternatives
      • Evaluating evidence, arguments, and actions
      • Formulating plans and monitoring actions
      • Identifying claims, assumptions, and bias
      • Clarifying priorities, conditions and what is known
    • What is historical thinking?
      • Perspectives
      • Past/present/future
      • 5Ws
      • cause/effect
      • influence
      • countries/cultures
      • relationships
      • patterns
    • What do historians do?
    • Why study history?
      • Learn from the mistakes of the past
      • Understand people & societies
      • Understand change
      • Learn important skills
      • Remedy for selfishness
      • God citizenship
      • Provides identity
      • People in history provide lessons in courage, diligence, achievement
      • Distinguish the educated from the uneducated

Historical Thinking

  • Chronological Thinking
    • Distinguish between past, present, and future time
    • Identify the temporal structure of a story or historical narrative
    • Establish temporal order in their own narratives
    • Measure and calculate calendar time
    • Interpret data presented in time lines (create time lines)
    • Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration (continuity and change)
    • Compare alternative models of periodization (eras)
    • Strategies to use:
      • Ordering without talking – great!!!
        • Kinesthetic
    • Additional Ideas:
      • Visual/real-life timeline
      • Interview grandparents – create a biography
      • Timelines-math lessons
  • Historical Comprehension
    • Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative and assess its credibility
    • Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage
    • Identify the central question(s) the historical narrative addresses
    • Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations
    • Read historical narratives imaginatively
    • Appreciate historical perspectives
    • Draw upon data in historical maps
    • Utilize visual, mathematical, and qualitative data
      • Role Playing
      • Performance Tasks
      • Fish Bowl
      • Talk Show
      • Human Statues
      • Debates
      • Readers Theater
      • Simulations
      • Tips:
        • Data Sheets speed things up
        • Rubrics for the different stages
    • Strategies to use:
      • Vocabulary!
      • Comparing perspectives
      • Human statues
    • Additional Ideas:
      • Game based learning
      • Data sheets to speed things up
      • Rubrics for different stages
  • Historical Analysis and Interpretation
    • Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas
    • Consider multiple perspectives
    • Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues
    • Distinguish between unsupported expressions of opinion and informed hypotheses grounded in historical evidence
    • Compare competing historical narratives
    • Hold interpretations of history as tentative
    • Hypothesize the influence of the past
    • Strategies to use:
      • Cause and Effect
        • Graphic Organizers
        • Key words:
          • Cause
            • Why did this happen?
            • What was the cause?
            • Because…
            • In the past…
          • Effect
            • So…
            • Then…
            • Because…
  • Historical Research Capabilities
    • Formulate historical questions
    • Obtain historical data from a variety of sources
    • Interrogate historical data
    • Contextual knowledge of the time and place
    • Employ quantitative analysis
    • Support interpretations with historical evidence
  • Historical Issues – Analysis and Decision-Making
    • Identify the issue or problem in the past
    • Look at the factors that created the problem (antecedents)
    • Look at similar problems from the past
    • Evaluate alternative courses of action
    • Formulate a position or course of action on an issue
    • Evaluate the implementation of a decision
  • Essential Questions
    • Who are we?
    • Where are we?
    • How do historians think?
    • What has gone wrong?
    • What must we do?
      • Walking with the Poor – Myers


What new information did you learn?

Learning the distinctions between the “categories” of history (historical comprehension, historical research abilities, historical issues, etc.) was extremely helpful. Knowing this gives me a better idea for what to target in my teaching and how to target it.

I also really appreciated the different teaching strategies – the 12 offenses worksheet is a great resource, although I think I will have a hard time adapting that to other topics. I also really like the human statue activity. I think that’s a very good way to get students involved in a short amount of time.

How has the material/experience affected you?

In regards to DI, I’m feeling quite a bit better about the concept in general. It will still require quite a bit of practice for me to feel comfortable or at ease with being intentional about it. I’m sure there are ways I’ve incorporated this into my lessons before since I’m all about always teaching to each student, but there’s a difference between being intentional about it and doing it “on accident” because it seems to be convenient for a specific lesson.

In regards to history instruction, I’ve become more focused in the way I think about history instruction. Breaking it down into categories is extremely helpful for me. It helps me know better how to assess history and how to effectively teach it. The categories help me identify just how important historical details and concepts are and how to prioritize them to maximize student learning.

Has it challenged your thinking?

In regards to DI, I’m challenged to continue to dig deeper into the concept so as to be more intentional with it. I’m actually taking a 1 credit independent study focused on differential instruction next semester and I’m extremely excited to dig deeper!         Do you have any suggestions for specific topics of study within DI? Are there any specific avenues I should go down?

This has absolutely challenged my thinking! I want to explore the historical categories more to see the potential they can have in my classroom and planning even though I’m not sure yet what that looks like.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Literacy – Zarrillo, Chapter 8

Reading Response: Zarrillo, Chapter 8


Zarrillo takes an innovative approach to incorporating literacy into social studies instruction. He begins by talking about typical social studies textbook, stating that despite being used abusively (primary means for instruction), it is still a valuable resource and should not be thrown out. He continues on to explain how to activate the usefulness of a social studies textbook by engaging the reader by use of background knowledge, graphic organizers, meaningful vocabulary instruction, and comprehension activities, From there, he further discusses comprehension, targeting students who have a difficult time reading at grade-level. Zarrillo uses this to segue into discussing valuable informational and fiction texts and how they can be extremely useful in a well-designed social studies lesson. Zarrillo concludes this chapter by talking about the importance of utilizing writing in social studies.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

I really appreciated the examples of graphic organizers. So many students, especially the ones with reading problems, struggle to organize information internally, especially information from a dense social studies textbook. Graphic organizers are a FANTASTIC way to unlock a student’s willingness to learn.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

I have a friend who teaches at a (very‼) small Christian School in Kalamazoo. She teaches 4th-6th grade and has a total of 9 students. When it comes to using resources outside of the textbook (which is at least 15 years old), her hands are tied. If she is going to plan a unit/project that goes longer than 3 days, she needs approval from the Ed Committee. If she wants to use texts other than the textbook, she needs approval from the Ed Committee. If she wants to allow her students to get online to do research, she needs approval from the Ed Committee for the websites they will be using (not to mention, her school only has 6 computers K-12 that have internet access). Her hands are tied in every direction. What would you do in that kind of situation to still allow for authentic learning despite the restrictions?


I’m not sure what assumptions I had coming into this chapter. I am focusing on Reading and Language Arts within my Education Degree, so it’s not like I hadn’t heard most of this before. But I really appreciated the reinforcement of what I have been learning, especially since it was targeted at Social Studies (which I hadn’t had before).

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes

Literacy in Social Studies

  • Compass Points
    • N – Needs
      • Lots of good quality literature‼! And I don’t have that yet, but I’m working to build up my library.
    • S – Stance, Steps, or Suggestions
      • Stance: I feel somewhat comfortable. I’ve been through enough Vander Kolk classes to feel pretty comfortable with this concept, although I don’t feel like I’ve mastered it yet.
    • W – Worries
      • How do I incorporate this with students who don’t like literacy?
    • E – Excitements
  • Textbooks
    • Which criticism of social studies textbooks in Zarillo Chapter 8 is the most important?
    • What is your view of the role of the textbook in the classroom?
      • I see the value in using it, but I do not think it should be my primary resource. If anything it should be used as a reference and nothing more – kind of like an encyclopedia. Students can use it to find information when necessary, but there are many better ways for students to learn social studies concepts.
    • Strategies for reading the textbook – pg 208 & 209. How would you improve that list?
      • Information Books
    • What do you look for? How do you use them? Why do you use them?
    • How will you incorporate the Common Core standards for using these books?
  • Social Studies text structures
    • Description
    • Sequence
    • Comparison and Contrast
    • Cause and Effect
    • Problem and Solution
  • Reading Strategies
    • Activating background knowledge
    • Graphic Organizers
    • Foldables
    • Pinterest – find and share your top 3 reading strategy posts
  • See, Think, Wonder
    • What do you see? – What do you notice? Make sure it’s just what you observe – not what you think about it. An observation is something you could actually put your fingers on within the image.
      • Indians being attacked by soldiers in blue uniforms
      • Smoke in the background
      • Indians dying
      • Horse being used in the fighting
    • Think – What do you think is going on in this image? Based on what we are seeing and noticing, what does it make us think? What kinds of interpretations can we form based on our observations?
      • I think…
        • Civil War
        • The soldiers are setting fire to the woods where the Indians live
        • I think the soldiers are being cruel to the Indians
    • Wonder – Wondering is about asking broader questions – use evidence from your observations to explain why you wonder that.
      • I wonder…
        • What are they fighting over?
        • Who is right and who is wrong?
        • Why does the horse look like it’s jumping in the air?
        • Why are they setting fire to the forest?
  • Activity – Circle of Viewpoints
    • Read the selection
    • Share with someone next to you that has a different selection.
      • Why are they fighting?
      • What are the different viewpoints?
      • Select a viewpoint to explore
        • “I think…”
        • “A question/concern I have from this viewpoint is…”
  • Reading like a Historian
    • Cross checking – comparing several documents
      • What do other documents say about this?
      • Do the documents agree?
      • Are there several stories about the same event?
      • Which stories are most believable?
    • Sourcing – the author of a document – before reading
      • Who made it?
      • When did they make it?
      • Why did they make it?
      • Is it believable?
    • Contextualizing – imagine the setting
      • What was it like to be alive in the past?
      • What things were different back then? What were the same?
      • What did people and places look like back then?
      • What were people worried about or hoping for?
      • Vocabulary
  • Activity:
    • Read the Section you were assigned
    • From The Magic of Words
      • Principle 1: Children Need Both Explicit and Implicit Instruction
      • Principle 2: Be Intentional in Word Selection
      • Principle 3: Build Word Meaning through Knowledge Networks
      • Principle 4: Children Need Repeated Exposure to Gain Vocabulary
    • With your partner answer these three questions in your notes:
      • What?
        • Children need networks of words rather than isolated terms.
      • So What?
        • Providing students with tools for networking and connecting meanings of interrelated words enhances comprehension and improves long-term memory.
      • Now What?
        • When introducing words to students, it’s important to provide a category, big-picture, or context.
        • People don’t think in isolation, so why would we teach in isolation?
    • CSI – Determine a Color, Symbol and Image to represent the section
      • Color: Blue
      • Symbol: Fishing net
      • Image: Fishing in a boat with a net; Rowing in a boat
    • JIGSAW
  • Writing
    • VERY IMPORTANT!       Need lots of practice.
    • Summarizing
      • Somebody – who?
      • Wanted – what did they want?
      • But – what was the problem?
      • So – how was the problem solved?
      • Then – what happened in the end?
    • Determine a writing assignment to go along with the Tecumseh readings.
  • Using Fiction
    • Activity:
      • In groups of three:
        • Have one person read the book out loud
        • What is the big idea?
          • Value
          • Wants vs. Needs
          • Good Food vs. Bad Food
          • Economics – Grocery Stores
          • Obedience
        • Identify 3 different social study big ideas or GLCE’s that the book could be used with
        • Jigsaw to a new group and share
      • Check out the book lists on Moodle
        • Identify books that you could use


What new information did you learn?

I learned how to better incorporate different types of trade books into a Social Studies lesson. I also thought the different strategies for thinking and processing were extremely helpful (What, So What, Now What / CSI / Circle of Viewpoints / See, Think, Wonder). My favorite was the Circle of Viewpoints. It’s so easy to only think about a certain perspective and forget that there’s even a potential for other perspectives (especially in schools with limited curriculum like the one at which my friend teachers). I like how Circle of Viewpoints is an easy and relatively simple way to not only expand the curriculum, but also to expand perspectives while encouraging higher-level thinking.

How has the material/experience affected you? Has it challenged our thinking?

My perspective was broadened. I realized that you can take just about any children’s book and pull out a social studies concept to teach from. Not that I have time to think about it, it only makes sense – put in simple terms, social studies is the study of the way people interact based on different situations. Trade books and other forms of literature (mostly) tell stories of the interactions and conflicts between individuals. Since that is the case, why wouldn’t we use trade books to teach social studies concepts? Quite often, the stories found in trade books are miles ahead of textbooks when it comes to relatability and authenticity.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

A Multicultural, Integrated Social Studies Curriculum – Zarrillo, Chapter 5

Reading Response: Zarrillo, Chapter 5


Zarrillo does an excellent job giving precise and accurate reasons for integrating multiple facets into social studies, particularly in regards to multiple cultures. My main takeaway from this chapter is that all (or most) traditional social studies curriculums should be expanded to include the perspectives of those from different cultures, and this can be done in a variety of ways. He begins by talking about four main approaches for integrating multiple cultural perspectives, critiquing each as needed. This set the foundation for the rest of his chapter, allowing him to dive into explaining how to make integration effective. He discussed three facets for integration: scope, geographic boundaries, and people. He then moved into presenting multiple ways to help expand one’s perspective, including, using children’s books, using oral histories, and including personal experiences. After explaining several strategies, Zarrillo explains how to adapt a traditional social studies curriculum so it can be multicultural, recognizing that most traditional social studies curriculums do not accomplish this. Zarrillo closes this chapter by taking integration even further, talking about how to incorporate speaking, listening, and the arts into a social studies curriculum.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • I really appreciate how Zarrillo provided a brief summary of the four approaches for teaching a multicultural curriculum. I’ve had a few classes where professors have required me to write a lesson plan or do a presentation in which I need to incorporate some cultural aspect. Each time, my lesson/presentation fell in the “contributions approach” method. I knew I wasn’t doing as thorough of a job as I thought, but at that point, I didn’t know how else to change it. Zarrillo’s in-depth study and analysis of the transformation approach is extremely insightful for me, and I have a feeling I will be going back to this chapter when planning my lessons in the future.
  • The Guidelines for Oral History Projects: This was interesting to me! Throughout each of the steps, I could see elements of the 5E lesson plan method. It obviously didn’t match up exactly perfectly, but it matched enough for me to see a correlation.
  • I also really appreciated all the lists of books, both text and trade. While I haven’t had a chance to look at these in-depth yet, this chapter will be a good reference point for my future lessons.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

What kind of classroom management skills need to be in place in order to effectively “execute” a solid multicultural social studies lesson?


As mentioned earlier, I knew there was somehow a better way to incorporate multicultural elements into a lesson than the “Contributions” approach, but I didn’t know how. This isn’t necessarily an assumption, but it is a pre-conception, and I’m excited to be learning about ways to move past while still building on this pre-conception.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Differentiation, Integration, and the Development of Academic Skills – Zarrillo, Chapter 4

Reading Reflection: Zarrillo, Chapter 4


Zarrillo does an excellent job of synthesizing and analyzing the most important aspects of differentiated instruction in social studies. He begins the chapter by introducing three key concepts in effectively differentiating social studies instruction, linguistic diversity, cultural diversity, and exceptionality. Within linguistic diversity, Zarrillo talks about language acquisition and proficiency, subtly tying in key concepts and methods from Stephen Krashen and James Cummins to Vygotsky’s constructivist theories and practices, Zone of Proximal Development and scaffolding. Within cultural diversity, Zarrillo begins by defining terms so as to avoid as much as possible any miscommunications and misunderstandings. He focuses on how culture shapes learning, providing many different examples of how students from select “minority” cultures interact and learn in the classroom, highlighting the possible vast diversity in one single classroom. Zarrillo closes his chapter discussing exceptionality, providing three key strategies (modifications in content, instructional processes, and student work product) that can easily be modified and applied for both students with learning disabilities and students with exceptional gifts and abilities.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • Dimensions of Language Proficiency: Zarrillo’s presentation of how each dimension of language proficiency hit home for me! He began by introducing each spectrum individually (cognitive demand/undemand and contextual support/isolation). When he tied it together by saying it can be organized into quadrants, it clicked in my mind! I actually took out a piece of paper and drew out the quadrants and where everything fits. This will be such a helpful resource for me when I’m attempting to keep the needs of all of my students in mind as I plan units and lessons.
  • The bit in the culture diversity section about how African American students think: I’m working with an African American student, Amani, at The Potter’s House this semester, and the paragraph/bullet point on page 106-107 explains so much‼ In the past, I’ve tried asking Amani questions in an attempt to learn more about his likes/dislikes and so I can begin to analyze his thinking pattern; He only answers exactly what I ask him. For example, during a reading assessment, after he has read the passage, I’ll ask him to “tell me about what you just read and what you thought about it.” Without fail (EVERY TIME!) he tells me the title of the story he just read and says “it was good” – every single stinking time! At first I was frustrated by this – why wasn’t he giving me more to work with? And then I realized that I’m the one not opening my eyes to the way his brain works. I’ve begun to ask more open-ended questions where he can’t just give me short one-word responses. This has all happened over the past few weeks. Then I sat down to read this chapter and Zarrillo explained the “why” behind what I’ve been experiencing, “in the traditional African American community, children are not usually expected to be information givers and are infrequently asked direct questions,” (page 106). I’ve also noticed with him that if I want to “get anything out of him”, I need to sit back and direct the lesson as more of a conversation, something that Zarrillo also talks about (page 107). I realize none of that directly relates to social studies, but it relates to differential instruction, something of which I have recently been making quite a few connections (yay for aha! moments!)
  • One final thing that I’ll mention is a, “why didn’t I think of that before” moment: on page 108, Zarrillo talks about how, when referring to children, we should never refer to them by their “perceived” identity but rather refer to them by name. By simply “forgetting” the stereotypes that come with my perception of a student, I’m not “hindering” that student from any potential or possible successes. If I were to always refer to a student by how I perceived them (disabled or gifted), I would be putting that student in a box, which would allow them to see themselves in that same box. They would then have to work much harder to not only accomplish and learn what I’m expecting them to learn, but they would have to also work to overcome the barrier I placed on them by stereotyping them. In eliminating this barrier, I’m helping to create a safer learning environment and I’m communicating to each student I work with that they have true potential and they can do anything to which they set their mind.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

Tiering assignments is an important strategy in differential instruction. This is something I will be doing in my classroom and I think it will work especially well with the standards-based gradebook system that I’m also planning on using. My concern with this is with the perspective my students will bring into the classroom. Most students are used to a traditional (icky) gradebook system and a traditionally run classroom where everything is the same and to have anything on different levels would either be considered unfair or students would recognize right away that different people are doing different things because they have different abilities, and they would automatically start to “group” students by “smart”, “average”, and “stupid.” Obviously, this is something I want to avoid, but how do I do that? How can I help my students break outside of the “traditional” box and help them unlock what it truly means to take control of one’s own learning (and how that looks different for everybody)?


I’m having a hard time coming up with any outright assumptions, but I know I came into this topic with some background knowledge, and those are, in a way assumptions. I thought I had a semi-accurate understanding of differentiated instruction, but I knew I didn’t really know how to make it happen. This chapter confirmed that I had a semi-accurate understanding of differentiated instruction and it broadened my perspective and deepened my understanding of it. It also gave me some key strategies for how to implement it in my classroom.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes

  • Chapter 4 Zarillo
    • Classroom applications
      • Pick out the top two you identified
        • Small manageable units
        • Allow for open ended questions
        • Change task criteria rather than expectations
      • Share with a partner
    • Questions to author
      • Share one of your questions on the board

What do you think?

  • 3rd grade – Westward Movement
    • Activity – build covered wagons
    • Improvements
      • Make real life wagon – try to fit students and their stuff into it
      • Expand to include themes with exploration, manifest destiny, gold rush
    • 1st grade – Read A Chair For My Mother
      • A book about saving
      • Activity – draw a picture of what they heard
      • Improvements
        • Give ELL (Struggling) students their own copy of book
    • 4th grade project options on a novel
      • Create a new jacket for the book
      • Build a set for a scene in the book
      • Rewrite the novel’s ending

Elements of Differentiation

  • Focus on the Essentials
    • Identify clear targets
    • Assessment and Instruction are inseparable
  • Attend to Student Differences
    • Readiness
    • Interest
    • Learning profile
  • Modify
    • Content – what
    • Process – how
    • Product – end

Individual Student Learning Plans

  • Early and frequent formative assessment
  • Based on outcomes for the grade level
  • In conversation with Student and Parents
  • Allow students to respond to assignments in multiple ways.
  • Teach to multiple levels of ability.

Instructional Strategies

  • Stations/Centers – various tasks, simultaneously
  • Entry points
  • Tiered Activities
    • Clear Learning Target
  • Project Based Learning
  • Solid Unit Planning

Let’s try Stations

  • Student Differences – readiness, interest, learning profile
  • K –H2.0.1 through K-H2.0.4
    • Distinguish among yesterday, today, tomorrow – pink
    • Timeline of life events – yellow
    • Identify beginning, middle, and end – green
    • Ways people learn about the past – blue
  • Big Idea – Essential Question
    • Big Ideas: The Past
    • Essential Question
      • How do we learn about the past?
  • Brainstorm Activities with Evidence
    • Group:
      • Pre Test: Interest area survey – ask students a series of questions that ultimately lead them to choose whether they prefer to tell a story by drawing, oral speaking, or writing.
      • Stations that attend to student differences
        • Station 1: Tell a story about your own past by drawing a picture or acting out the story.
          • Targets: interest, readiness, learning profile
          • Lower Tier
        • Station 2: Tell a story about your past by either using the iPad to video your own story or to interview a friend’s story.
          • Targets: interest, readiness, learning profile
          • Middle Tier
        • Station 3: Think of a story in your life and create a headline, or hashtag to summarize it.
          • Targets: interest, readiness, learning profile
          • Higher Tier
  • Exit activity with evidence for EACH student

Cognitive Demand and Contextual Support        

  • Differentiation does not mean that every single lesson includes differentiated content, process and product for each student’s interest, readiness level, and learning profile.
  • Partners
    • Briefly share one of your assessments for your assessment plans
    • Rate the level according to the Cognitive Demand & Contextual Support scale on pg. 100 in your textbook.

Differentiation Matrix

  • Assessment in a Differentiated Classroom
    • Was this difficult? Absolutely. Did I learn a lot? SO MUCH‼ Simply having to work through the process would have been immensely difficult on my own. Working through it with Abagail and Esther was extremely helpful. While I don’t have the process mastered yet, at least I know what the process is so I can easier work through it and make it muscle memory.

Making a Difference

  • Good Samaritan
  • Love your neighbor
    • How close do they have to be to me?
    • How close will you get to them?
  • Action; relationship building
  • “No significant learning will occur until there is a significant relationship.” Juwanzaa Kunjufu
  • Break down the lines that come between us.
  • Proverbs 3:3
    • “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Differences Among Students

  • Multiple Intelligence/Learning Styles test
  • Student inventories
  • Check cumulative files for standardized test information; reading levels
  • Pre Tests
  • Student Profiles
  • Know the communities
  • Assess the resources available
  • Call home about positives and build relationships with parents
  • Home visits
  • Relationships are CRITICAL
    • Story about Isaiah

Me and We – Strategy

  • Ice Cream
  • Jazz
  • Broccoli
  • Action Movies
  • Novels
  • Rap/Hip Hop
  • Romantic Comedies
  • Pizza
  • Opera
  • Sports
  • Acting
  • I wish my teacher knew…

Poverty Literacy

  • A comprehensive understanding of the general adverse effects poverty has on lives and learning
  • Recognize the uniqueness of each individual’s experience and response to poverty
  • Ability (knowledge and skill) to recognize the conditions that too often deny students in poverty equal access to educational opportunities
  • Willingness (disposition) to address and correct those conditions

What is poverty?

  • It is the extent to which an individual does without resources. (Payne, 1998)
  • Poverty knows no bounds neither race, gender, culture, nor language.
  • Resources:
    • Financial
    • Emotional
    • Mental
    • Spiritual
    • Physical
    • Support Systems
    • Relationships/Role Models
    • Knowledge of hidden “class” rules

Confronting Common Myths

  • Fact or Fiction…
    • People in poverty are unmotivated and have weak work ethics
    • Education, as a way out of poverty, is readily accessible to everyone.
    • People living in poverty are uninvolved in their children’s educations because they do not value education.
    • People living in poverty tend to abuse drugs and alcohol more than people in other socioeconomic classes.
  • Power of Language

Multi Cultural Education

  • Movement toward equity or equity pedagogy
  • Curriculum reform
  • Multicultural Competence
  • Teaching toward social justice
    • Begin with the premise that we are all racists – at least unconsciously so.
    • Set a context of “listening as action” – make dialogue an advice-free zone.
  • Challenges:
    • White and Female
    • Achievement gap

Lesson Plan Rubric

  • Review the lesson plan rubric
    • Read the highest level
      • Circle the features
    • Read the next level down (3)
      • Underline or highlight the differences between this and the top level
    • Continue through to the bottom level
  • Time to grade
    • Each student will be given a different lesson to grade
    • Grade the lesson according to the rubric making comments on the lessons
    • Share the lesson and the grade


What new information did you learn?

The matrix (readiness, interests, student profile – content, process, product) that you had us work on during class in groups was especially helpful regarding differentiated instruction. It helped me understand exactly what readiness meant and how to apply it to content, process, and product (still a little fuzzy, though, on how to apply interests and student profiles in relation to content, process, and product).

How has the material/experience affected you?

I’m intrigued and excited at the same time. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working to figure out my schedule for next semester and how that’s going to affect the rest of my time here at CU. I ran into some complications, but through those complications, I’m able to do an independent study that looks more in depth at differential instruction. This lesson helped me get my mind around it a little more so I know kind of where I want to take my independent study next semester.

Has it challenged your thinking?

It has absolutely challenged my thinking. To be quite honest, I was struggling to keep up a little bit during class. It wasn’t until we started doing that matrix activity that I really started to understand what we were doing, but after working through some of that, I’m realizing this is a much bigger and broader topic than I could have imagined.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Inquiry and Critical Thinking – Zarrillo, Chapter 7

Reading Reflection: Zarrillo, Chapter 7


Zarrillo takes his readers through a very sequential and logical way of looking at inquiry and critical thinking. He begins by overviewing inquiry, talking about how it “is a process that begins when a problem is identified either by students or by the teacher” (page 168). He moves into providing a few options for how to teach inquiry. Much like the scientific method process, the structures provided include defining the problem, gathering and analyzing information, and reaching a conclusion. Zarrillo names a few different variations on this method and mentions different possible sources for information. He talks about how to make this a useful strategy for group work, going into detail about Suchman’s Inquiry Model. Having established strategies for inquiry based teaching, Zarrillo lays the foundation for critical thinking, paralleling its concepts to those found in Bloom’s Taxonomy. He gives an overview of three methods for teaching critical thinking skills, one of which attempts to integrate content with skills instruction. Each method is similar and seemingly simple to follow, but still requires quite a bit of work on the teacher’s end to allow students to actually develop critical thinking skills. Zarrillo ends with a reminder and five principles help make sure all students, even ELL and disabled students, are able to participate in higher level thinking.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • I liked how Zarrillo outlined clearly how there were different methods for how to implement inquiry learning and how to teach critical thinking skills. I have a feeling, based on what I know about diversity of learning capabilities within students, I will be needing to utilize at least the strategies outlined by Zarrillo, if not more strategies from my own (future) research.
  • “Dead Air” is ok! This will be a skill I really need to practice, especially since I’m still “new” to teaching.


Thoughtful and Authentic Question

Suchman’s Inquiry Model is interesting, but I’m not exactly sure what I think about it yet. I can see how it would be really helpful in focusing on specific elements of inquiry learning (as opposed to trying it all, all at once). I’m still not sure what the point of asking yes/no questions is – is there something I’m missing?


As an education major with focuses in reading and language arts, I thought I knew what critical thinking meant. Zarrillo showed me that critical thinking is so much more than I originally thought. Not only will this expanded understanding help me teach social studies better, but it will also help me with my student I’m tutoring this semester at The Potters House who struggles with reading comprehension (mainly inference and critical thinking skills). I’ve been working with him to target text-based comprehension and we’ve been getting into inference a little bit, but knowing more about critical thinking will help me know how to further develop those skills in my little person.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes

Chapter 7 Discussion

  • Take note of the different forms of assessment in this video
    • “Hooks” students with song and poem – asks students to infer what they think they’ll be learning about
    • Pre Assessment: asking questions to entire class
      • Students hold up “smiley face” or “sad face” if they agree or disagree
      • Teacher’s assistant records responses for later observation
    • Drawing pictures about weather
      • Informal
      • Self Assessment worksheet to evaluate weather pictures
    • Post Assessment: asks same questions from the beginning of class
      • Students hold up “smiley face” or “sad face” if they agree or disagree
      • Teacher’s assistant records responses for later observation again
      • Uses information from assessment to readdress concepts with students if needed
  • Share with your partner:
    • Two of the ideas to save
    • The question you asked the author

Inquiry Based lesson

  • This person changed forever what we (historians) think about the past.
    • OETZI
  • Artifact cards – body, bow/quiver, dagger, ax, belt/pouch
    • Facts
      • Body
        • Lived about 45 years
        • Suffered from whipworm infestation
        • Hair: low levels of lead; high levels of arsenic
        • Suffered from a chronic illness
        • Suffered many injuries during lifetime: rib fracture; fracture of nasal bone
    • Inferences
      • Based on symbol of axe, and the fact that they found numerous bodily injuries, he could have either been a tribal leader or warrior.
      • Could have been an ironsmith:
    • Hypothesize: how did Oetzi die?
    • Tell a story using evidence – have students become the historian

“Let’s be clear – we are failing too many of our children. We’re sending them out into a 21st century economy by sending them through the doors of 20th century schools.” Barak Obama, in a speech at the Center for American Progress

Critical Thinking

  • 3 words – generate three words that quickly come to mind; don’t overthink, just quick associations
    • HOTTS
    • Challenging
    • Brain-fart
  • 2 questions – generate two questions that quickly come to mind; surface ideas are fine.
    • Can you tell me more?
    • How do you know?
  • 1 metaphor or simile – may need the start phrase ___ is like…
    • Critical Thinking is like… learning to build a plane and fly a plane at the same time.

3-2-1 Bridge

  • Steps:
    • Set up
    • Initial Response
      • 3 words – generate three words that quickly come to mind; don’t overthink, just quick associations
      • 2 questions – generate two questions that quickly come to mind; surface ideas are fine.
      • 1 metaphor or simile – may need the start phrase ___ is like…
    • Provide an instructional period
    • Repeat the 3 -2- 1
    • Bridge – Have students share with partners, discuss what they are noticing about how their thinking has shifted from their initial responses
  • Thinking routine for introducing and exploring ideas
  • Purpose: activating prior knowledge
  • Reminder – don’t forget to do the Bridge portion; it’s important for students to recognize and name their own learning and development

Making the Case               

  • Beliefs determine practice
  • Directions:
    • In your group, come up with a short 1 minute argument using the method you were given to convince someone to use critical thinking strategies more often in their classroom. Add your argument to the point below.
      • Data – feel free to create data points out of thin air
      • Fear
      • Follow the group:
      • Emotional: heart for our students – want the best for them
      • Anecdotal
    • Practice determine beliefs
      • Eric Jenson: Teaching with the Brain in Mind
      • Karin Morrison: Making Thinking Visible

Brain Research

  • Challenge
    • Problem Solving
    • Critical Thinking
    • Relevant Projects
    • Complex Activities
  • Feedback
    • Specific
    • Multi-Modal
    • Timely
    • Learner Controlled
  • Contributing Factors to Meaning-Making:
    • Emotion – IMPORTANT‼‼
    • Context and Patterns – STUDENTS MUST BE TAUGHT PATTERNS
  • Briefly describe your past experience in social studies classrooms to a partner using negative examples of the points above. Any positive examples? As a result of your discussions add your thoughts/ideas for how to incorporate each of the above in your future practice.

Getting Started – Developing an Idea

  • Standards
    • English/Language Arts – Compare works that express a universal theme and provide evidence to support the ideas expressed in each work.
      • Students read various short stories from different cultures, all focused on “leaving home,” then use excerpts in podcasts they create to express their own thoughts, feelings and advise on the theme.
  • Current Global issues
    • Website designers meeting the needs of clients
    • Elected officials deciding public policy
  • Community Issues – Service Learning
    • Traffic volume
      • Students measure the volume of traffic and analyze delays on key roadways, then present findings and make recommendations.
  • Relevant and interesting to your students
    • Immigration and workers ‘rights
      • Students research policy past and present, national and international, write a policy recommendation.

Writing a driving/essential question

  • Localize – relate to their own life
  • Charge – give students a charge to do something
  • Intentionally flows through the unit/lessons
  • Types:
    • Abstract/conceptual
      • Can one person really make a difference?
      • What unifies us?
    • More Concrete
      • How did early explorers change the world?
      • What makes a place worth visiting?
      • What effect does population growth have on our society?
    • Problem Solving
      • How can we decrease the amount of pollutants in the water?
      • How can we decrease the amount of conflict in our school?
    • Design Challenge
      • How would we design a museum exhibit about the Civil War so that it appeals to diverse groups in our community?

Entry Event         

  • Start with a bang – sparks interest and ignites curiosity
  • Ideas:
    • Give students a piece of correspondence (real or fictitious) presenting a challenge
    • Have a discussion about an issue of interest or a news event
    • Review a website
    • Invite a guest speaker
    • Go on a field trip
    • Conduct a demonstration or activity
    • Show a video or scenes from a film
    • Read something provocative
    • Present a startling set of statistics or a puzzling problem
    • Display photographs or works of art or play a song

Authentic Assessments

  • Students learn about endangered species in their region and take action to protect them, including a public awareness campaign, habitat restoration fieldwork, and communication with local government officials.
  • Students design and create a calendar with pictures and information about endangered species, which they sell at a pre-winter break community event and donate the money to an environmental organization.
  • Students play the role of scientists who need to make recommendations to an environmental organization about how to protect endangered species in various ecosystems around the world.
  • Define and give examples of an assessment that is “Not Authentic”
    • Criteria for Authentic Assessments
      • Students doing something in the field they’re studying or to help the field they’re studying
      • Open ended
      • Interaction
      • REAL – meets a real need – relevant

Authentic Assessments

  • It meets a real need in the world beyond the classroom or the products students create are used by real people.
  • It focuses on a problem or an issue or topic that is relevant to students’ lives— the more directly, the better—or on a problem or issue that is actually being faced by adults in the world students will soon enter.
  • It sets up a scenario or simulation that is realistic, even if it is fictitious.
  • It involves tools, tasks, or processes used by adults in real settings and by professionals in the workplace. These criteria for authenticity could apply to any of the above examples of projects.

Remodel a Lesson

  • Typical 1st Grade lesson on U.S. Holidays
    • The standard: 1 – H2.0.6 Identify the events or people celebrated during United States national holidays and why we celebrate them (e.g., Independence Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Presidents’ Day).
    • Typical lesson includes: coloring pages, food, stories, etc.
    • Remodel
      • Focus on one holiday: Independence Day
      • What is/could be the underlying Big Idea or Essential Question?
        • Big Idea: Independence Day
        • Essential Question: Why do you have independence?
        • Essential Question: What does Independence look like?
      • Why do students need to know or understand this?
        • Value the lives and events that occurred to bring them freedom.
      • What would be an authentic assessment? – What does it mean to you?
        • Build an American flag with a War Veteran
          • Use construction paper
        • After flag is built, allow 1st grader to interview the War Vet
          • The 1st grader will write the War Vet’s answers in the white space on the flag.
        • Questions to Ask:
          • Why do you serve your country?
          • What does the flag mean to you?
          • What was your duty in the war?
          • Where did you serve?
          • How did you help other people from other countries during the war?
          • Last white line: Student response: reflect on what the War Vet talked about: What does it mean to you?

Unit Planning

  • Completed PRIOR to instruction
  • Take time to collaborate
  • Plan ahead and be prepared
    • Resources at different levels for each lesson
    • Everything ready
    • 75% of classroom management
  • Reflect as you go – sticky notes


What new information did you learn?

  • Oetzi was new to me, and I really liked the strategy you used to teach us about him. I will definitely be using that in the future!
  • Overall, today wasn’t quite as mind-blowingly exciting as last class was, but I still made many connections. It is always helpful to collaborate with others when coming up with Big Ideas and Essential Questions, especially since it takes a lot of work for me to come up with those things on my own.

How has the material/experience affected you?

The Unit planning section was very helpful. Most of my education professors talk about lesson planning, and a few talk about unit planning, but so far, you’re the only one has given us tips and reasons for how to be successful at it. Your tip about always having the entire Unit planned and prepared ahead of time was a new realization – not that I didn’t know to plan ahead and have the unit plan mapped out, but I wouldn’t have thought to have the entire unit prepared ahead of time – that’s something I would have had to learn the hard way – now, hopefully I won’t have to!

Has it challenged your thinking?

As I stated earlier, writing Big Ideas and Essential Questions does not come naturally or quickly for me. I understand the process, but it just takes so long for my brain to process and come up with what I need. I think my main challenge in this is that I want it my stuff to always be authentic, so I’m always questioning myself to make sure it’s authentic and interesting. That’s why I like collaboration so much – it helps me get outside of my head so I can focus easier and be more efficient with my time. Knowing this, I want to work on becoming more efficient in the way that I write Big Ideas and Essential Questions.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Assessment of Social Studies Learning – Zarrillo, Chapter 3

Further Assessment Plan Information: Social Studies Assessment Plans

Reading Reflection: Zarrillo, Chapter 3


Much of what is discussed in Zarrillo’s 3rd chapter was also mentioned and discussed in the readings we did for this week’s notes. Zarrillo gives a good overview of assessment, talking about the different types of assessment, the essentials for good assessment, the importance of gathering data from multiple sources for analysis, alternatives to “traditional” method of assessment and recording information, specific guidelines for data analysis, and how to share data with each student and their parents. Throughout the chapter, Zarrillo makes it clear that there is no “perfect” way to assess students, rather, teachers need to determine what will best reflect what each of their students knows in a manner that provides multiple sources of evidence.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

Key idea: there need to be multiple sources of evidence for mastery. Reading this became a “light-bulb moment” for me. In each content area that I teach, I need to be able to prove without a doubt from multiple sources that my students have mastered my objectives (the state’s standards). Assessing a student only one way is a good start, but it does not provide evidence. Assessment in multiple ways gives the bigger picture and allows the teacher to start filling in the holes of the Swiss cheese.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

How can I scaffold up to the point where note taking is actually effective without making it a boring and monotonous process?


I found all of the methods Zarrillo mentioned for how to gather data interesting, particularly because I remember my middle school social studies teacher doing many of these. Initially, I was discouraged when I realized this. I thought, “If my middle school teacher did these things, maybe I can’t get around the fact that social studies is just plain boring.” Thankfully, that thought went in one ear and out the other. I quickly thought back to the 5th grade social studies lesson I watched for class for week one; that teacher used many of these methods and his lesson was crazy exciting! I also thought back to what we’re learning about backwards design and what I’ve been learning in SCI-201 about 5E lesson planning. The reason my middle school teacher’s social studies class was so boring was because the bulk of her class was lecture, an activity or two, and a ritualistic regurgitation of needless facts and details every few weeks. I will not be that teacher. While I’m sure it will take years to develop and “perfect”, every part of my lessons that I plan will be completely intentional and designed in a way that best utilizes the time of both my students and I, and they will be specifically tailored to the needs of my students.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes – Part 1

Annenberg Learner: Assessing Students’ Learning

  • Assessment helps us tap in substantially to what they have learned
    • Purpose: provide evidence that we know they’re really learning
  • Types: Formal and Informal
  • Means of Assessment
    • “Run back to your desk and write three things you learned about the story” – good way to evaluate
    • White Boards: ongoing review – dipping into student’s background knowledge and comprehension
      • Teacher asking questions, students providing answers on whiteboards
      • Helps know what pace to teach
      • Who to take aside later
      • Pros: appealing to kids,
    • Dipsticking: ongoing method for checking for understanding (thumbs up for ‘yes’ or ‘no”
      • Immediate feedback
    • Portfolio: range of assessments – multiple snapshots of a student’s performance over time
    • Friendly Letter: ownership of responsibility; narrative; voice is heard; hear what’s important to them
      • Builds leadership
    • Flip-book
      • Drawing as feedback
      • Comprehension: Flip book to show sequence of events (Sequencing)
      • Laying foundation for importance social studies skills
  • How to Assess
    • Different methods allow teachers to look for different things
      • Pictures: content, motor control, cognitive development
      • Writing: handwriting, ability to communicate concepts
  • Viewing Guide
    • Tool/Process? (How)
      • Gonzalez: Discussion time (“carpet time”), list between needs and wants (chart – words or pictures), model
      • Rubio: Researched based project
    • What?
      • Gonzalez: can the students make the connection between what a plant needs to grow and what they need to grow? (Critical thinking skills); Needs/Wants
    • Purpose?
      • Rubio: to teach about “mission”; to develop research skills/questions
    • Criteria? (Historical accuracy?)
      • Gonzalez: On each side of the chart, students need to have two things (two needs/two wants)
      • Rubio: very clear – model, poster, use technology, present (5-10 minutes long)
      • Sinclair – letters are criteria – real world connection; development of criteria can make or break a criteria – gauging whether or not students “get it”;
    • Criteria in Advance? (What about student’s criteria? How does it guide their work?)
      • Rubio: gave criteria in advance
    • Student Awareness?
    • Type of Feedback?
      • Rubio: questioned students
    • Opportunity to Revise?
    • Clue for Teacher
      • Rubio: Developing criteria – gave him a way to probe what his students know about
  • Mini-Lesson: Developing a timeline – most significant and influential people/times in US History
    • Purpose: try to make a convincing case about significant person – why they’re significant
    • How: Worked in groups to chose their significant person – create a visual and mini-presentation/lesson
    • Criteria
      • Content
        • Historically accurate
        • Connect periods
        • Link Events
      • Presentation
        • Visually interesting
        • Well-presented
        • Under two minutes
      • Assessment
        • Biography – content
        • Writing – sequencing and synthesizing



Follow the instructions for this page and answer the five questions:

Articles – Notes

  • Performance Assessment
    • Simplest terms: “requires students to demonstrate that they have mastered specific skills and competencies by performing or producing something”
      • Designing and carrying out experiments
      • Writing critical thinking essays (integrate/apply information)
      • Group-work
      • Proficient use of technology/equipment
      • Writing (term papers, critiques, poems, short stories)
      • Giving speeches
      • Playing musical instruments
      • Oral examinations
      • Portfolios
      • Developing athletic skills/routines
    • Authentic Assessment: an assessment in which students are allowed adequate time to plan, to complete work, to self-assess, to revise, and to consult with others (APPLICATION‼)
      • Real-world standards and criteria
      • Three factors: task, context, evaluation criteria
        • Task: must be authentic – must apply concepts
        • Context: real-world setting
        • Criteria: high expectations – similar to that which is used to judge adults who perform or produce
      • Ultimately: targets higher level learning (bloom’s taxonomy)
    • Authentic Instruction and Learning
      • Authentic Instruction has three goals
        • Construct meaning and produce knowledge
        • Use disciplined inquiry to construct meaning
        • Aim work toward production of discourse, products, and performances that have value or meaning beyond success in school
      • Authentic Instruction Criteria
        • Higher order thinking skills
        • Depth of knowledge
        • Connectedness to the world
        • Substantive conversation
        • Social support for student achievement
    • Performance Criteria
      • Important:
        • Criteria define for students and others the type of behavior or attributes of a product which are expected
        • Well-defined scoring system allows the teacher, the students, and others to evaluate performance/product as objectively as possible
      • Development of performance criteria
        • Must define the attributes being evaluated and develop a performance continuum
        • Key: descriptive feedback – what can be done to improve?
    • Portfolios
      • Defined: purposeful collection of student work that tells the story of a student’s efforts, progress, or achievement in a given area over a period of time
      • Why?
        • Dissatisfaction with typical assessments (tests/quizzes/exams) – portfolios show growth
        • Motivates students, provides explicit examples to others about what the student knows and is capable of, shows growth and allows for self-assessment; encourages self-reflection
      • 5 questions
        • What will it look like?
        • What goes in?
        • How and when to select?
        • Evaluating Portfolios
        • Passing Portfolios on
    • Developing Performance Tasks
      • Three steps
        • List the skills and knowledge you wish to have students learn as a result of completing a task
          • Cognitive skills
          • Social and affective skills
          • Metacognitive skills
          • Problem solving
          • Application of concepts and principles
        • Design a performance task which requires the students to demonstrate these skills and knowledge
          • How long will it take students to develop skills?
          • Task shouldn’t be too complex
          • How does skill/accomplishment relate to other skills?
          • How does skill/accomplishment relate to long-term goals?
          • How does skill/accomplishment relate to school improvement plan?
          • Intrinsic importance of skill/accomplishment
          • Teachable? Attainable? Must be realistic
        • Develop explicit performance criteria: measure the extent to which students have mastered skills/knowledge
          • Scoring system – well defined
          • Model for high-mastery
    • Additional Recommendations
      • Performance/authentic assessments are not a new concept
      • Work together with other educators to design performance tasks
      • Tasks should be fair and unbiased
      • Tasks should be interesting, challenging, and achievable
      • Tasks should be self-sustaining (clear instructions – student focused)
  • Teaching for Understanding: Ongoing Assessment
    • What is it?
      • “When understanding is the purpose of instruction, the process of assessment is more than just evaluation: it is a substantive contribution to learning.”
      • Must inform students and teachers about what students currently understand and how to proceed with subsequent teaching and learning (formative assessment)
    • Key features
      • Establishing criteria
        • Clear
        • Relevant
        • Public
      • Providing feedback
        • Occur frequently (beginning to end)
        • Help students know how to improve (and how well they did)
        • Inform planning of subsequent classes/activities
        • Variety of perspectives: students’ reflection; classmates’ reflections; teacher
      • Planning
        • Use understanding goals to generate criteria for assessment
        • Build in opportunities for assessment throughout
        • Create opportunities within
        • Balance formal and informal feedback
        • Build in time to help students develop skills (self-reflection, peer assessment)
      • Teaching
        • Help students develop criteria themselves
        • Post criteria prominently
        • MODEL how to provide specific feedback
        • Useful tools: portfolios and reflection journals
        • Reflective Practice: reshaping curriculum to match students
  • Current Trends and Practices in Social Studies Assessment for the Early Grades
    • Goal-Oriented Practices
      • Why: Maintain momentum for teaching and learning
    • Activities for Instruction and Assessment
      • Varieties
        • Speech
        • Writing
        • Others
      • Setting
        • Whole class
        • Small-group
        • Individual
  • Understanding Rubrics
    • What is a Rubric?
      • Defined: a scoring tool that lists the criteria for a piece of work, or “what counts”
      • Articulates gradations of quality for each criterion (excellent to poor)
    • Why Use Rubrics?
      • Powerful tools for teaching and assessment
        • Improve and monitor student performance
        • Clear expectations
        • Shows students how to meet expectations
        • Help define quality
      • Help students become more thoughtful judges of the quality of their own and others’ work
        • Self-assessment
        • Peer-assessment
        • Cuts down on the “Am I done yet” questions
      • Efficient: reduces time teachers spend evaluating student work
        • Informative feedback about strengths and weaknesses (areas for improvement)
      • “Accordion” nature allows them to accommodate heterogeneous classes
      • Easy to use and to explain
    • How Do You Create Rubrics?
      • Look at models: Examples of good and bad work
      • List criteria: discuss as class
      • Articulate gradations of quality: best, worst, and middle
      • Practice on models: use rubric on examples provided at the beginning
      • Use self- and peer-assessment
      • Revise: ALWAYS make time for revisions
      • Teacher assessment
    • Tips
      • Avoid unclear language: always go into further detail‼
      • Avoid negative language
      • Articulating gradations of quality is often a challenge


  1. What factors should be considered in planning for assessment?
    • End goals: ALWAYS keep the end goal in mind
    • Determine skills and knowledge students should attain
    • CRITERIA (use for creating a rubric)
      • Specific
      • Clear
      • Relevant
      • Public
    • Type of assessment: formative or summative?
      • Formative:
        • How often?
        • Planned?
        • Built-in opportunities?
      • Summative
        • Type/Format
        • Length of time
    • Flexibility of lesson/reflective practice – will the assessment actually be used to tailor lessons to student learning?
  2. How are goals, instruction, and assessment related?
    • In planning lessons and units, one must first examine goals – long-term goals (graduation – end of the year) and short-term goals (end of the day, end of the week, end of the unit). Once goals have been established, the teacher can then determine how he/she will measure these goals (assessment). Once assessment is determined, the teacher can then develop his/her instruction plan and tailor it to the assessment so as to prepare the students for the highest level of mastery possible.
  3. What is the relationship between standards and assessment?
    • Standards (and objectives) are a way of making goals specific, clear, and measurable. They are also a way to more easily scaffold learning to achieve long-term goals. Assessment comes into the picture when it comes to evaluating whether students have achieved the standards (and objectives). If students have not achieved the standards (and objectives), the teacher can evaluate from there whether to re-teach or move on (hopefully re-teach!).
  4. What should you consider as you develop criteria for rubrics?
    • No matter what I’m developing a rubric for or how in-depth I’m trying to make it, I must ALWAYS make my expectations clear. I cannot leave words such as “describe” or “explain” up to the interpretation of my students – I need to define those words more clearly for my students so they know how to achieve their learning goals
    • I should always clarify my rubrics and expectations with models – exemplify mastery and poor understanding
  5. What are the strengths of the following approaches?
    • Performance assessment
      • Allows students to demonstrate their mastery in a variety of ways
      • Not aimed at “content regurgitation” but “content application”
    • Authentic assessment
      • Real-world focused – real-world standards and expectations
    • Authentic instruction
      • Constructivist approach to learning and education
      • Targets higher-order thinking skills
    • Portfolio assessment
      • Gives more feedback than typical assessments provide (tests/exams/quizzes)
      • Shows student progress
      • Helps students develop self-assessment and peer-assessment


Complete the Viewing Chart below and answer the following two questions:


  1. Which of the methods and strategies you’ve read about or observed are most relevant to your work? Why?
    • Gonzolas’ use of the chart is something that can be used across multiple grade levels. As someone who wants to teach upper elementary, this is something that I think could be highly effective if used in the right manner
    • I love the option of allowing students to illustrate what they know. Not ever kid is gifted with words (but it’s still a skill that can be developed) so this allows those students to enjoy learning rather than struggle with the writing process.
    • Group-work and presentations is a great way to simulate real-world think-tank like situations. It fosters leadership in some and allows students to see the value in collaboration.
    • Rubrics will be very important to me, although I’m not looking forward to creating them – it seems like a tedious process.
  2. What are some ways you can begin to incorporate these strategies into your practice?
    • Practicing specific feedback – this is a tough area for me. I can easily judge whether or not something is good quality, but I have a hard time pinpointing and communicating why something is good or needs improvement. This is something I can do everyday in my interactions with others.
    • I like to observe my professors while they’re teaching – this gives me insights for what I want to do as a future teacher (and sometimes what I really don’t want to do as a future teacher). Knowing what others do helps me in self-assessment. I can examine my own current practices and re-evaluate for the future.


Complete only Activity 1 (not Activity 2). After you have assessed the letters answer the following two questions:

  1. What did you learn from assessing the letters?
    • After assessing the letters and then comparing my assessment to the teacher’s assessment, I found that I was quite a bit stricter. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I always want to uphold high expectations, but I also want to stay within each student’s ZPD. Finding that balance was difficult in this activity and I think that is partly due to the lack of relationship the student and I share. I realize that I need to stay objective in the way in which I grade and assess, but I also need to push my students to do their best.
  2. What advice would you give each student for next steps?
    • Letter #1
      • Good writers clearly identify each of their arguments. Work on separating each argument or reason so it is obvious how many different arguments you are making.
      • Good writers check their pieces for spelling errors. Work on making sure each word is spelled correctly.
    • Letter #2
      • Good writers check their pieces for spelling errors. Work on making sure each word is spelled correctly. If you don’t know how to spell a word, check a dictionary or with your teacher.


Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes – Part 2

  • Pg 53 Unit on Boats
    • Read/Review it
    • Looking back over the “what” we just talked about; answer this question:
      • Why did I put a sticky note in my book that said YUCK!?
        • Objectives: Shouldn’t be the same as the essential questions. There is no clear learning goal – just an idea for students to explore. It’s not stated how an “outside party” will be able to tell if a student has mastered the concepts. How can there be assessment if there are no objectives?
        • No focus – concepts and level of activities does not match up
        • Not authentic
        • NO CLEAR GOAL!!!
      • In your notes, indicate at least one reason for each of these slide headers that we just covered:
        • Curses: Too widespread
        • Big Ideas: Too specific
        • Essential Questions: Labeled as objectives – objectives need to define a clear learning goal and outline how mastery will be achieved: these questions don’t achieve either of these things.
        • Clarifying Content Priorities: no clear details or focus to take with to the next lesson.
      • Backward Design Curriculum: No design – it’s a conglomeration of random activities
      • Together with your neighbors describe a few ways the unit could be fixed considering each of the headings.
        • (THROW IT OUT!! – not really)
        • Broaden topic to clarify clear learning goal
        • Possible goals (Big Ideas)
          • Boats and their significance throughout history (specifically American history)
          • Trading: boats are one way – how else?
          • Transportation: boats are a means of transportation
          • Migration
        • Succinct and clear learning objectives that also describe how students will master or achieve the learning goals.
        • Assessment: widespread (many different sources of evidence) so as to gain a bigger picture about how well students have mastered the objectives.
          • “Tracking a product” – find where a product comes from, track it’s mode of transportation to where we use it today
          • Culturally – write a guidebook, plan a trip, etc.
        • Essential Questions (when do students need to be able to know/do/understand this in real life?)
          • How does transportation affect your daily life? (
          • How does transportation further society? (economics)
            • How do we get our stuff?
          • How do people get to where then want to go?
          • How does transportation vary across cultures?

Unit Plan Brainstorm

  • Grade Level Groups
  • Goal: Rough Unit Plans
    • Looking back at the activities we did with the standards brainstorm a list of 4-8 unit plan ideas
      • Determine at least one for each grade level
      • GLCE’s do not have to be within the same theme strand
        • Immigration
        • Cardinal directions
    • Pick one of the best ideas and do the following as a group:
      • Create a big idea and essential question(s)
        • Big Idea
          • Conflict – native Americans and early settlers
        • Essential Questions
          • How do you get along with strangers?
          • Should we accept others into our society?
          • Is there a perfect culture or society?
          • How do we work together to make a better culture?
      • Determine the GLCE’s that will be covered in the unit
        • History
          • 3-H3.0.6
          • 3-H3.0.8
          • 3-H3.0.5
        • Geography
          • 3-G1.0.3
          • 3-G4.0.2
        • Public Discourse
          • 3-P4.2.1
      • Create several critical thinking objectives
        • The learners will analyze the conflicts between Native Americans and the early settlers by composing a multifaceted piece that incorporates either a skit or video that looks at what might have happened if the conflict had gone differently.
      • Brainstorm possible pieces of evidence
        • Skits and videos
  • Review the lesson plan rubric
    • Read the highest level
      • Circle the features
    • Read the next level down (3)
      • Underline or highlight the differences between this and the top level
    • Continue through to the bottom level
  • Time to grade
    • Each student will be given a different lesson to grade
    • Grade the lesson according to the rubric making comments on the lessons
    • Share the lesson and the grade
  • Online Lessons
  • Best practices in searching – You get what you pay for.
  • What makes it a good lesson?
  • NEVER can you EVER use a lesson that someone else has created without tweaking it!
    • Your students are unique
    • You are unique
    • Mission/vision of school is unique
    • Community is unique
    • Big ideas/essential questions will differ
  • Remember to cite sources in all you do (including lesson plans)
  • The lessons/unit plans/assessment plans you submit must be entirely your own.
  • Carousel
  • Assessment Continuum
    • Screening/Pre-Assessments
      • Pre-test
      • Inventory
      • KWL
      • Checklist
      • Observation
      • Self-evaluation
      • Questioning
      • NWEA (standardized test)
    • Formative Assessments
      • Conference
      • Peer evaluation
      • Observation
      • Questioning
      • Exit card
      • Portfolio Check
      • Quiz
      • Self-evaluation
    • Summative Assessments
      • Unit Test
      • Performance Task
      • Product/Exhibit
      • Demonstration
      • Portfolio Review
      • NWEA (standardized test)
    • Check, Check, Check
      • How is someone who plans for assessments before planning lessons, different from someone who plans activities first?
        • Someone who plans for assessments first is keeping the “big picture” in mind. They know exactly what their students are going to be learning and exactly how they will demonstrate it. Someone who plans activities first has to somehow come up with an assessment that ties in everything learned in the activities – which is next to impossible to do, so inevitably, something always gets missed in the assessment (NOT IDEAL‼)
      • What is formative assessment and how is it best used?
        • A formative assessment is something used by the teacher as a “ruler” for where the student is at – it’s used for feedback and to help identify next learning steps. It’s best used when it is carefully tracked, tailored to fit the student, and when careful and descriptive feedback is given. This is not simply for the benefit of the teacher, it’s also to benefit the student, and they should generally be aware of what’s going on in the formative assessments (not always – that may defeat the purpose of the assessment).
    • Methods Match Targets
      • Targets (testing whether they….)
        • Knowledge
        • Reasoning
        • Skills
        • Product
        • Disposition (Affect) – change their thinking on something
      • Methods
        • Selected Response/Short Answer (key) – KNOWLEDGE
          • Multiple choice
          • Matching
          • Fill in the blank
          • Label a diagram
        • Extended Written Response (Scoring Guide) – KNOWLEDGE, REASONING, DISPOSITION
          • Several Sentences in length
        • Performance Assessment (Task & Criteria) – SKILLS, PRODUCTS, KNOWLEDGE, REASONING, DISPOSITION
          • Demonstrating skills
          • Developing products
          • Make sure criteria/instructions are clear
        • Personal Communication – REASONING, KNOWLEDGE, DISPOSITION
          • Example: Having students explain something rather than write about it
    • Performance Task Scenarios
      • Performance Tasks & Products (PDF)
        • Performance Student Roles and Audiences
        • Performance Products
        • Performance Task Examples
      • Complete the GRASPS Idea Starter sheet for a performance task that could be used at your grade level
      • Share your ideas at your table
      • Look back at the cards…
        • If you created a strong performance assessments with specific criteria. How many of the cards that you put in the selected response pile could get moved to the performance assessment pile?
      • Curricular Priorities & Assessment Methods
        • JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS WHAT YOU’RE TEACHING? – how well do you want your students to remember it?
  • Royce Sadler, 1989: “A key premise is that for students to be able to improve, they must have the capacity to monitor the quality of their own work during actual production. This in turn requires that students:
    • Know what high quality work looks like
    • Be able to objectively compare their work to the standard
    • Have a store of tactics to make work better based on their observations.”
  • Tips for Designing Effective Scoring Tools
    • Includes the most important traits in terms of purpose an quality
    • Common problems
      • Scoring the length of the paper instead of quality
      • Focusing n mechanics, organization, and presentation rather than content, substance, and effect
    • Check for consistency of descriptive terms
  • Common problems:
    • Scoring the length of the paper instead of quality
    • Focusing on mechanics, organization, and presentation rather than content, substance, and effect
  • Check for consistency of descriptive terms
  • Rubrics
  • Types:
    • Holistic Rubric
    • Analytic –Trait Rubric
  • Steps:
    • Break out into categories
    • First determine what is acceptable (meets expectations) – usually #3 then move up and down from there
  • Avoid the most common problem with rubrics – weigh what’s important most heavily
  • Rubric Review
    • The rubric MUST show what the standard/GLCE is – did the student achieve mastery?
  • Sample Lesson Rubric
    • Initial thoughts
    • Pull apart the GLCE’s
  • 5 – U3.1.7 Describe how colonial experiences with self-government and ideas about government influenced the decision to declare independence.
  • 5 – U3.1.8 Identify a problem confronting people in the colonies, construct alternative choices for addressing the problem with possible consequences, and design the course of action taken.
    • Determine better categories for the rubric based on the GLCE
  • Potential Fixes…

Reflection – Combined

  • What? – New information?
  • So What? – Affected me?
  • Now What? – Challenged my thinking?

So far, I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of this class and not learned something (even on the weeks we didn’t actually meet!). This week was especially mind-blowing. Going into more detail about how to implement backwards design was extremely helpful as was brainstorming with others how to come up with a big idea, essential questions, objectives, and assessments. If I had had to do that all on my own right away, I would have been lost, but brainstorming with others really helped me understand the thinking process behind it and it helped me “expand” my creative juices. The bit of information that really affected me was the part how to organize and run a gradebook. Up until this point, I had been thinking about how I could do that and still measure whether or not students actually understood what I wanted them to. Up until this semester, not very many Profs have touched assessment. They’ve mentioned that it needs to be a part of every lesson, but not many (except for Professor Vander Kolk) have gone into further depth about it. One of my brothers (currently a senior in high school) has ADD, really struggles with Academics (especially tests), and has very little internal motivation to push himself in school. Seeing him struggle with this has brought me to the conclusion (a long time ago) that I did not want to assess my students primarily through tests and quizzes – it simply isn’t fair to those who don’t do well with it! Rather than assessing what they know, their minds freeze up and the information they studied so hard to remember goes into the witness protection program inside their brain. Up until this point, I also recognized that if I’m going to do away (for the most part but not completely) with the “traditional” forms of assessment, I would need to change the way I organize and run my gradebook, but I didn’t know how to do that. I was toying with a few options, one of which was that I would completely do away with “grades” (not assessment and feedback though!). I mentioned this idea to my mom and my boyfriend and they looked at me like I had transformed into a Martian. I knew that idea wouldn’t work completely, but I didn’t know how to match my gradebook to the type of assessments I wanted to do. And then this class happened. You talked about how you run your gradebook based on standards and how that gives you the freedom to do many different kinds of assessments that give each student their best shot at proving mastery. Not even kidding, I have thought about this every day since walking out of that classroom door – how I’m going to implement it, what I can do to stay organized in this, how I’ll keep track of formative assessments, how this will enable me to be better at reflective practice, etc. etc. etc. Seriously, simply by showing me (us) a new option for organizing and running my (our) gradebook, you’ve given me an excitement for teaching (and grading! Haha) that I knew I had in me, but it had been suppressed by the idea that I’d have to become a “robot teacher”, doing things in the “traditional” way simply because that’s how it’s been done for years and years and if I tried anything new, I’d be looked at like a Martian (the ugly stares from “traditional robot teachers” were a lot nastier than that in my head). Now that I feel like I have at least a good foundation for how to organize my gradebook in the future, I feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. That may sound a little dramatic, but that burden was enough to inhibit every other aspect of my teaching, and now it’s gone!

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

The Fundamentals of Social Studies Teaching – Zarrillo, Chapter 2

Further Unit Plan information:Social Studies Unit Plans

Reading Reflection: Zarrillo, Chapter 2


In chapter 2, Zarrillo discusses the idea of lessons and unit plans. He starts with lessons and moves into how they fit into unit plans. Zarrillo mentions two different types of lessons (comprehensive and abbreviated) and talks about the different types of instructional methods most commonly used in social studies. He also makes mention of Bloom’s taxonomy and how that should impact the way we write objectives and how we format our lessons. Zarrillo goes on to describe units, which should be formatted by “backwards design.” Teachers should determine standards and objectives first, the type of assessment second, and plan instructional activities tailored to the objectives and assessment last. This allows a unit to be focused, clear-cut, and detailed. Zarrillo concludes by discussing different types of activities found within social studies units. Continue reading “The Fundamentals of Social Studies Teaching – Zarrillo, Chapter 2”