Model teachers are willing to change

 

Shown is a bulletin board that outlined four major components of a social studies unit involving the Holocaust in a 7th grade classroom.

Shown is a bulletin board that outlined four major components of a social studies unit involving the Holocaust in a 7th grade classroom.

Today’s blog post came from helping out a colleague during the end of the day. He needed to leave a few minutes early to attend his team photos. During that time I got to sit behind his desk and ponder around his classroom.

Evidence Bulletin Board
I was intrigued by his bulletin board (shown above) about four key parts of the Holocaust — letter (primary document) from a Jew to a Gustapo (SS officer during WWII), telegram sent (primary document), photos of events, and first-hand description of the riots in Dinslake (primary document).

Speaking with the students, they went over many the many events which occurred in the Holocaust. However, they focused on the many of the intentions of the Nazi regime, characteristics of the Gestapo, and descriptive word choices of describing the agony and discrimination of the Nazi.

I was floored.

The students were able to share many anecdotes from previous classroom conversations which they were proud to share with me.

As I got the short version of their past two weeks, I got to see their culminating writing task: “What were the intentions of the Nazi German government on the night of November 10, 1938?”

Shown is one sample response of a student summative assessment.

Shown is one sample response of a student summative assessment.

 

Language Arts Connection
Since the implementation of the Maryland College & Career Readiness Standards, one of the major writing styles students are focusing on includes argument. Teachers are focusing on creating an arguable claim, citing evidence and explaining its connection to the claim, and using proper writing conventions.

This one social studies teacher has made the transition into the Common Core quite well. He began by giving a brief overview of general concepts relating to the Holocaust (i.e. Nazi, Jews, Star of David, discrimination, etc.), but mainly focused the crux of his instruction on synthesizing information from primary documents. To illustrated mastery, he created short writing assignments which allowed students to display their knowledge often after analyzing general themes which came up in clasroom conversation (i.e., discrimination, race, religion, human rights, government).

Along the way, the teacher crafted his formative assessments as mini-writing pieces to support a future writing assignment. For example, “Write a claim about the Gestapo’s actions towards the Jews during WWII.” It is simple and a great start to students transferring writing skills across content areas. In addition, there would be assignments asking to cite and explain evidence to other teacher and student created claims.

I am proud to be affiliated with such a stellar educator who is making the transition to the Maryland College & Career Readiness Standards and improving student writing.

Thanks for letting me watch your class for a little while Mark Lowrie!

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About briancookeducator

Husband, Daddy, teacher, #Mountaineer, coach, and aspiring school leader | Thoughts are my own.
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