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Common Core Specialist: Using Digital Resources Enhances Social Studies Instruction

Common Core Specialist: Using Digital Resources Enhances Social Studies, History Instruction

When it comes to teaching Common Core in the classroom, sometimes textbooks just don't cut it. 

So says Mary Janzen in an article on SmartBlogs.com. Janzen is a Common Core State Standards 6-12 Literacy in History and Social Studies TSA with Fresno Unified School District who also trains and works with secondary, history, and social studies teachers in Common Core Instruction. 

"In the Common Core State Standards, it is not the teacher or the textbook that holds all of the knowledge," Janzen said. "Historical knowledge is acquired through considering the perspectives presented in primary, secondary and tertiary sources. Digital resources enhance a teacher’s ability to plan lessons that will enable their students to build the historical literacies necessary to be college, career and civic-life ready."

Janzen offers four methods of instruction to educators teaching Common Core State Standards in the classroom. The first is "collecting and interpreting data."

"The variety of digital resources available online provide students with the perspectives necessary to deepen their understanding of how to think like a historian and process events throughout time," she said. "Whether it is the student or the teacher locating these sources, it is necessary to find multiple types of texts including reference articles, biographies, photos and illustrations, maps, visuals, speeches, letters and narratives, government topics and newspapers."

According to Janzen, "In order to understand any historical event in depth, a student must interpret the collected data and use it as evidence to support their understanding of the event. They must ask themselves such questions as: Who created it? Why did they create it? When was it created? Whose perspective is not included? What was the context of the event? Internalizing the ability to think like an historian allows students to transfer knowledge to new contexts while considering how past events were shaped by the author, time and place."

A second method is "moving beyond the textbook."

"As a teacher, there was a time that I was excited just to use the textbook image of John Gast’s 'American Progress' in my Manifest Destiny lesson plan and to explain to the student what was going on in the painting. Now I understand that I was just skimming the top of what needed to be done in order for students to learn how to think historically," Janzen said. "Digital resources greatly expand not only the amount of resources I have but the depth of understanding and knowledge students will have by exploring multiple resources. By using digital resources, a Manifest Destiny lesson plan can now be expanded to include: a map of the Missouri Compromise, biographies on James K. Polk and Horace Greeley, Stephen F. Austin’s Texas Independence Address, Thomas Corwin’s speech against the Mexican-American War and Sam Houston’s Report of the Battle of San Jacinto. Using such resources moves beyond sole reliance on the textbook and dramatically changes a student’s understanding of Manifest Destiny."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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