Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Colonial America - A Conceptual Approach to Migration, Movement and Settlement

One way to look at concept-based instruction involves students using a collection of sources and learning experiences to develop complex understanding of an idea.

In this example, I have pulled together the sources that we might use to understand migration, movement, and settlement during the earliest stages of European migration to the Western Hemisphere (many call this the colonial era). The tool I've used is ThingLink, a tool that I LOVE for so many reasons.  It allows a user to make interactive images.

As critical thinkers in my classroom, I want students to analyze a number of different sources. (If you're interested, view my blog post on Developing a Common Process for Analysis.)  This collection includes multiple maps and charts.  In addition, I've included a lesson that I would be teaching and a set of videos that might also inform student understanding.  The questions we are trying to answer are, "Who moved? Where did they go? Why?"

Historically, teachers have tried to make this a very clean answer - people moved for religious reasons and for economic opportunity.  YUCK! I can imagine someone having me read a few pages of a book and answering a few questions. DOUBLE YUCK!

When analyzing a variety of sources to answer this question, students have the opportunity to slow down and think critically to develop complex answers. As a teacher, I can open this single link on a SmartBoard and continually return to it each day. (If I'm in a 1:1 classroom, I can share this ThingLink with all students and they have all the resources in one place.)   When students and teachers return to the sources that are being used to learn about a concept, we have the opportunity to revisit our essential questions and elevate the conceptual language of geography and economics (big ideas, organizing concepts).

Here's the actual link to this ThingLink on Colonial America: Migration, Movement, and Settlement.

Use of Video in Social Studies: An Active Approach

Frequently, teachers use video as a source for developing content knowledge. While one goal is connected to the content, another simultaneous goal should be the critical thinking of students.

To engage students with video, some teachers create a set of guiding questions. Even though this may reveal key ideas with the video, this can also cause students to watch/listen carefully for the answers to questions.  Another approach the encourages students to bring their own thinking to the table involves the teacher utilizing open-ended strategies. In this approach, teachers can facilitate the learning and offer guidance and insight related to quality of student thinking that's applied.  Overall, the goal is to use a resource strategically (in this case, a video) to elevate critical thinking and understanding content.

National Geographic has a set of videos that capture teachers using classroom strategies that elevate critical thinking and a thoughtful approach to using videos to support student learning.

The video series, titled Experiencing Film: An Active Approach, shares the following ideas/strategies for engaging students with video:

  • Film Freeze Frame: Observations
  • Film Freeze Frame: Predictions
  • Auditory Perceptions: Sketches
  • Auditory Perceptions: Community Web
  • I Am From: Poem
  • I Am From: I Appreciate My Neighbors Who...
NOTE: Teachers watching this video series must sign-in to iBoss prior to watching.