Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My lessons on the Progressive Era

Certain things came together in planning my unit on the Progressive Era.
First, I'm working on integrating more EdTech into my teaching.  Second, a blizzard is heading our way so I wanted to create something that students could start in class and then work on while we are out for any snow days.  Finally, my students are all over the place in terms of interpreting primary sources and in structuring and writing essays.  To address that, I'm going back to add a high-degree of scaffolding, to reteach the weaker writers and reassure the stronger writers that they are doing it correctly.

Here's the workflow:

1. Essential vocabulary knowledge: I wrote a list of essential knowledge on a Google Doc and posted it to Google Classroom.  I then created a review game using BrainRush to help them learn the vocabulary.  (If you're not using BrainRush yet you should; it's terrific--fun for the students, and easy for you to create the activities as the teacher.)
2. The Progressive Era presidents: I wrote an alphabetical list of all the accomplishments of the Progressive Era presidents in a Google Doc and posted the list to Google Classroom.  Students were to take that list and, using their textbooks, sort the list to learn which accomplishment goes with which president.  I created a different review game using BrainRush to help the students learn the sort.

3. How effective was the Progressive Era in achieving its goals?  We will read and analyze documents from the 2003 AP U.S. History DBQ on this topic.  (The Scoring Guidelines for that DBQ are particularly helpful in highlighting the outside information, document information, and document inferences that your students will need to know.[*])  This will be a heavily scaffolded lesson; I will analyze the question and most of the documents with the students and give them a liberal opportunity to rewrite their work.

[*] Yes, yes, yes, this is an old-style DBQ.  But you can use it here as generic practice. 

4. Did it happen before or after the Civil War? My students are having difficulty keeping these two eras (Antebellum Era and Gilded Era) straight in their heads, so I wrote a list of events that first occurred either before or after the Civil War in a Google Doc and posted it to Google Classroom.  I created a different BrainRush review activity to help them practice.

5. Yes, I will be lecturing (a bit) for background information and to tie everything together into a narrative.  When I do, I will be delivering the presentation directly to students' smartphones using nearpod.  Like BrainRush, I love nearpod!  As I swipe the screen on my iPad, the lesson advances on the smartphones. 
6. And yes, my students will still have to read their textbooks.  But I wrote a Reading Guide for them to help them focus on what really matters. 

At the end of the lesson we'll have two quizzes: one on the material posted to Google Classroom, and one based on the textbook reading.

So, in sum: Essential learning conveyed to the students; technology to help them learn it; a whole-class lesson on using primary sources and practice writing an essay; limited lecturing but pushed directly to their devices; textbook reading; and some review (also using technology).

It will be a busy two weeks.

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