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6-8 | Social Studies | Online Community Tools
Station KAET in Arizona
My Classroom Innovation
With the adoption of Common Core Standards, Arizona teachers are asked to provide students with many opportunities to use information text, discuss the information, draw conclusions, and support their findings with text evidence. Students need to be provided with many different opportunities to gather data to support their claims. PBS Learning Media provides a variety of such sources.
In the attached video students discussed King Tut and the discovery of his tomb by Howard Carter. There were asked to make connections to the video of Bill Gates, who links his love of history and science to his success in technology.
To help students discuss the information they read and view, our class has begun doing Socratic Seminars. After all of the text, videos, and websites have been presented to the students, they prepare higher order questions they would like to ask their classmates during the Seminar. Students are given a Speaking/Listening Rubric to help them understand the expectations. They have partners who tally their involvement in the discussion and rate their ability to follow discussion guidelines. Partners provide feedback to one another based on their observations so that they can continually improve their discussion techniques.
After the Seminar, I created posts on Edmodo, a safe social media site for students and teachers. I posted polls to see how students feel about a subject after the discussion. I ask students for clarification or further reflection about certain parts of the Seminar.
Socratic Seminars are an innovative way to help students successfully meet the requirements of the Common Core. In addition, the inclusion of technology resources, such as PBS Learning Media, OnInnovation, and Edmodo, are critical for meeting the needs of our 21st Century learners.
How Students were Engaged
Students have taken discussion to a new level. The shyest of students is part of the dialogue because the class knows that including everyone is a requirement in a Socratic Seminar. Students know what a "higher order question" is because those are the questions that perpetuate a discussion, not just an answer.
Our District Benchmark testing involves research, discussion, and essay responses. The difference between the discussion in our first benchmark and our second benchmark was remarkable. Using PBS Learning Media and other online tools, along with Socratic Seminars and Edmodo discussions, greatly increased the discussion level of my students. The best way to describe it is to say that my students discuss topics like grownups. They know how and when to respond, whether it be in agreement, disagreement, or even confusion. They support their viewpoints with facts, which requires in-depth study and accurate note taking. They are able to ask questions that make their classmates T-H-I-N-K.
My favorite part of this new approach to teaching is that my students are ASKING for it. "Do we get to do a Seminar today?" and "When is our next Seminar?"
I first used Edmodo last year with my students. I was constantly reminding students that it was an Educational forum, not a place to chat or use text language. When I started using Edmodo this year, I knew I was going to have to make my expectations clear from the start. While my students figured out text language was inappropriate sooner than last year, their responses were not very thoughtful. After our first Seminar, the interaction changed. They are providing each other research or "cool" links. Their comments are deeper, with more proficient language.
PBS Program/Content Used
King Tut's Tomb, Archaeology, King Tut, Bill Gates