Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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LINK: Social Studies in Action Home
Groups, Projects, and Presentations.
Exploring the Issues.
Applying What You've Learned.

Exploring the Issues

Notes: As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.  

Structuring Groups

Mr. Fisher.

"I think the most important thing is that these students respect each other's abilities. I think that everybody benefits when each student has something to bring to the table. The best kind of group is one that is not dominated by one or two members. Everybody should own their group; everybody should be part of their group and bring something important to their group. Working with group members to build on their individual strengths is the most important thing."
-- Gary Fisher, Eighth-Grade Social Studies Teacher, Roxbury, Massachusetts

Wrestling with the Issue

  • Of the factors that Mr. Fisher mentions, which do you believe are most important in structuring group work to ensure a meaningful experience and a worthwhile outcome?
  • Do you always use the same criteria for structuring groups? How do you rank criteria?
  • What skills do students need for effective group work, and how do you teach these skills?
  • How can group work contribute to learning, both within and beyond the classroom?

Focusing Groups

"At the beginning of every unit, I have the children write the essential questions in their log and respond to them. Most of the time, the children's answers contain very little information. Hopefully, as the year goes on they'll make connections with other things that we've studied and their responses to those essential questions will grow."
-- Rod Cuddi, Fifth-Grade Social Studies Teacher, Winthrop, Massachusetts

Mr. Cuddi.

Wrestling with the Issue

  • What do you see as the benefits of using cross-unit questions to focus and connect learning?
  • How can essential questions help teachers make curriculum decisions as well as help students learn, retain, and connect material?
  • Are there larger focus questions that can be used to span disciplines as well as curriculum units?

Assessing Projects and Presentations

Ms. Weir.

"What I'm looking for in the presentation are the key pieces of information in the resource cards. The debriefing is meant to extend learning through 'what if' questions, and then connect learning to something else. I also ask students questions whose answers should show me they really have a clear understanding of what's in the resource cards."
-- Mavis Weir, Tenth-Grade Geography and World History Teacher, Petaluma, California

Wrestling with the Issue

  • How does having a specific group role enhance the group work?
  • How do you determine which resources will provide adequate depth to student investigations?
  • What is the value of presenting students with criteria for evaluating projects and presentations as they begin their group work? Is there any value in having students help develop the criteria for evaluation? How does this process help further the group's project development work?

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