SED 741 Discussion Guides
 Raising the bar - how do we design good hooks, help our students become historical detectives, use other intellectually challenging teaching strategies, and help students learn strong note taking skills?

Dummying down in our classrooms cartoon

Below, please find the guides for today's discussion.


Two examples of how teachers have raised the bar in their own classrooms:


Goals for today's discussion:

  1. To understand what it means to "raise the bar" in our classrooms.
  2. To learn the importance of good hooks and how to design them.
  3. To discuss how to integrate the ideas of students becoming historical detectives in our classrooms.
  4. To talk about other intellectually-challenging learning strategies for classroom use.
  5. To explore how to teach good note taking skills.

Goals for when we meet together on Elluminate. (See below "Things to do before meeting in class on Elluminate")

  1. To check in with each other to learn how things are going in our apprentice teaching and in classes at HSU.
  2. To discuss the "bottom line" things you learned from "Thinking about History - How do we think chronologically and teach thematically" lecture and discussion about teaching in general and teaching history in particular.
  3. To answer any questions that remain after you viewed the lecture/discussion .

Goal #1: To understand what it means to "raise the bar" in our classrooms

Raising the bar in our classrooms means that we as teachers must have high and achievable academic expectations of our students.

Our remaining goals for today address various ways we can raise the bar in our classrooms.


Goal #2: To learn the importance of good hooks and how to design them

Poster for the movie "The Best Years of Our Lives"A Case Study of the GI Bill

Hook: Show a 3-4 minute clip from the movie The Best Years of Our Lives at http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/178463/Best-Years-Of-Our-Lives-The-Movie-Clip-The-War-Is-Over.html. In this clip, ex-bomber Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) visits his former place of employment.

Discussion after the clip:

Transition from Hook to Lecture/Discussion:  In The Best Years of Our Lives, the three veterans all shared a fairly simple goal – getting a steady job and buying a small house for their family.  Today, we are going to look at the history of how the federal government has helped – or failed to help – Veterans returning from war reassimilate into American society.


Goal #3: To discuss how to integrate the ideas of students becoming historical detectives in our classrooms

The Teacher as Historical Scholar. As historical scholars, we must:

  1. Interpret the past for our students.  This requires us to determine just what primary and secondary sources we will use and how we will interpret them.
  2. Write a compelling story about our interpretations of history. This requires us to write an exciting lesson plan that will energize and excite our students.
  3. Teach our story to our students.  This requires us to teach the content of our story through lessons built upon solid chronological understanding and broad historical themes. 
  4. Train our students to become historical scholars. This requires us to move beyond the “sage on the stage” and instead to teach our students to do what we do – to interpret, write, and teach each other history.

Painting of John BrownThe Teacher as Historical Scholar: Modeling a Scholarly Investigation of John Brown. Before we can teach our students to do their own historical research - to become historical scholars - we have to mentor historical scholarship. Below is an example of how you would conduct such an investigation and then present it to your students.

Step 1:  Selecting a thesis. 

What you do on your ownMake a choice, write why you selected it, and define failure or greatness

What you model for your students: Explain that you have a choice of a thesis, define failure or greatness, and share your written work with the class.

Step 2: Using primary sources to defend your thesis.

What you do on your own:  Select a document (in this case it is John Brown’s “Declaration of Liberty” written in 1858 to contrast directly with the “Declaration of Independence”); write your explanation; select your quotes; and make your bibliography.

What you model for your students: Show the primary source you selected to support your thesis and share your written explanation of why you selected this source.

Sept 3: Using secondary sources to support your thesis.

What you do on your own:  Select your secondary source; write your explanation; select your quotes; make your bibliography.

What you model for your students: Show the secondary source you selected to support your thesis and share your written explanation of why you selected this source.

Step 4:  Using other primary and secondary sources to test your thesis.

What you do on your own:  Select your primary and secondary sources, write your explanation about how they support or refute your thesis, select your quotes, and make your bibliography.

What you model for your students: Show the primary and secondary sources you selected to support or refute your thesis and share your written explanation of why you selected these sources.

NARA form for interpreting a documentStep 5:  Reflecting upon your work as an Historian.

What you do on your ownWrite about why you finally continued to support your thesis or why you changed your mind and describe the most important points that led to your decision.

What you model for your students: Share your written explanation of why you either continued to support your thesis or why you changed your mind about your original thesis.

The Student as Historical Scholar. Click here for an example of an assignment on how you would have your students become historical scholars through their interpretations of slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.


Goal #4: To talk about other intellectually-challenging learning strategies for classroom use

  1. Historical literacy - using literature to teach history. Become a member (membership is free) of the Zinn Education Project at http://zinnedproject.org/. Once you sign up , go to "Warriors Don't Cry: Connecting History, Literature, and Our Lives" at http://zinnedproject.org/posts/1447 and click on the PDF to get a detailed understanding of how to use historical literature in your classroom.
  2. Abridging Primary Documents. Many times you will find a terrific primary document that you would like to use in your class, but it is just too long. The question becomes - how do you abridge these documents in a way that does not dummy down the material but does not bury your students under unimportant details?
  3. Raising the bar on the STAR test. Here is a simple, fun, and intellectually stimulating way to help students actually think about both the content and skills required to pass the STAR exam. It has been carefully tested by a former student, Dave Riesenfeld, in NYC schools. Dave and his students work on 2-3 multiple choice questions a week - all taken from previous Regents exams. You could use AP questions or anything similar - or make up your own. He begins by explaining that every question requires a close reading of all the words. Then, he puts students quickly through a three-step process:

Goal #5: To explore how to teach good note taking skills.

Example #1: Cornell Note Taking Template

There are several variations to the Cornell note taking idea. Below is one that divide a 8.5" x 11" page into three sections: Cue Column (1), Note taking Column (2) and Summary (3). In the second column, students write down the main ideas from the lecture - main ideas given them by the teacher. In the first column, students write down key words and cues that will help them better understand the notes. In the third column, students summarize in their own words no more than 3-4 sentences what they learned from the notes.

Cornell Note Taking Fomat

Another Cornell model divides the paper into two columns, exactly as above, but eliminates the bottom 3rd column. In the second column, students write down the main ideas from the lecture - main ideas given them by the teacher. In the second column, students summarize in their own words the main ideas they learned from the notes.

An evaluation strategy for Cornell Note taking: Create a check list such as the following:

Note-Taking Evaluation.

Name ________________________________________________________

Example #2: Mind Maps - a 'whole brain' note taking method.

There is a creative (right) side and a logical (left) side to the brain. Mind Map Notes cater to both sides. Traditional linear notes cater mainly for the logical side. A Mind Map consists of a Central Topic with a Central Picture. This is very important, as it forms a 'hook' to which all the information it contains will be attached.

Map Map example

Attached to the Central Topic are thick Main branches. These branches are often the headings in a text book. Attached to the Main Branches are thinner Sub Branches followed by Detail Branches.

Why do Mind Map Notes work?

 

Example #3: The Squeeze Approach

The Squeeze concept of note taking is catching on in schools across the nation.  So, what is it?  The idea is that students will learn to squeeze the information that they verbally learn in class into a small amount of information written in their own words.  This is a learning tool that will take a least a couple of weeks to master, will require you to be patient as students learn,  and must be carefully taught at the beginning of the school year through several steps:

First step -  Teaching the concept.  Students work in groups of three and will read a primary document selected by the teacher.  Each group gets the same document.  Then, they do the following:

  1. Each student in the group reads the primary document (can be done individually or aloud).
  2. After reading the document, each student writes, in their own words, a 1-2 paragraph summary of the main points in the document. 
  3. Then, each student shares their summary with the other group members while the group verifies each summary – explaining where they agree or disagree with each summary. 
  4. Each student squeezes their summary into 1-2 sentences, then shares their 1-2 sentences squeeze with the group members, and discuss how they compare and contrast.
  5. Each group picks one of the squeeze summaries to share with the entire class.
  6. The teacher leads a discussion about the squeeze summaries.

Second step:  Refining the concept.  Students work individually and will read a primary document selected by the teacher.  Then, each student does the following:

  1. Writes a 1-2 paragraph summary of the document in their own words.
  2. Squeezes the content of their summary into 1-2 sentences.
  3. Shares their 1-2 sentences squeeze with their classmates and discuss how they compare and contrast.

Third step:  Broadening the squeeze concept.  The teacher will give a 10-minute lecture and students will not take notes. Each student writes a 1-2 paragraph summary in their own words of what they learned in the lecture.  Then, the students then move into groups of three and do the following:

  1. As a group, students verify each of the summaries by asking if they agree or disagree with the summaries.
  2. Each student squeezes the summary into 1-2 sentences.
  3. Students then share the squeeze with their classmates and discuss how they compare and contrast.

Fourth step:  Applying the concept.  Students work individually.  Using the Cornell note taking format, have them draw a line down their note taking paper.  Then, each student does the following as the teacher delivers a 10-15 minute lecture/discussion:

  1. On the right-hand side of the line, write no more than 1-2 paragraphs of notes in their own words while the teacher is talking.
  2. At the end of the lecture/discussion, give the students 5-10 minutes to squeeze the information they learned into 1-2 sentences that they write on the left-hand side of the line.
  3. Have the students add to the left-hand side of the line any questions they had after writing their summaries and squeeze.
  4. Have the students share their squeeze and any remaining questions aloud.

Fifth step:  Finalizing the concept.  Students work individually, using the same Cornell note taking format is described above in Step 4. Then, each student does the following as the teacher delivers a lecture/discussion of the teacher’s desired length:

  1. On the right-hand side of the line, write no more than whatever number of paragraphs (determined by the teacher and based on the length of the class lecture/discussion) in their own words while the teacher is talking.
  2. At the end of the lecture/discussion, give the students 5-10 minutes to squeeze the information they learned into 1-2 sentences which they write on the left-hand side of the line.
  3. Have the students add any questions they had after writing their summaries and squeeze to the left-hand side of the line.
  4. Have the students turn in their squeeze and any questions they had after writing their summaries and squeeze. 
  5. Read each squeeze and questions, make appropriate comments, and return to students as soon as possible. 

To do before meeting in class on Elluminate:

  1. Be prepared to check in with your colleagues in regard to how things are going in your apprentice teaching and in your classes at HSU.
  2. After watching the movie, Stand and Deliver, be prepared to discuss the following:
  3. After watching the lecture/discussion on "Raising the Bar " be prepared to address the following:
  4. Prior to coming to class, each of you must post an idea for a "hook" that you might use to begin your two week lesson plan. Please post your hook at ____________________ by no later than Tuesday at noon.
  5. Extra Credit for those who are interested in abridging documents.