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Week 11, Jacob Hobson

Week 11 Readings

This week our readings ask us to analyze the way in which we structure our classes i.e. what approach we will use to teaching history. Thematic or chronological, each have their merits, and choosing your approach in the classroom. Jayson Chang shares his ideas on a thematic approach to teaching history. Chang’s article brings to light many of the same questions I had during my high school years; questions like “why do I need to know this random fact”. The obsession with names, dates, and times is an easy trap to fall into when attempting to “cover” history in a class. Rather than focusing on rote memorization of facts Chang proposed two questions that I think we have echoed in our own experiences learning how to shape our own teaching philosophies. “Why do I have to learn this?” and “How has this affected my life and the world and society in which I live today?” these are the questions which Chang asks himself when looking at what he is teaching his students.

A chronological approach lends itself to a mad dash to cover as much content as possible in as linear a timeline as possible. In this we see the exclusion of the majority of voices in the historical narrative and invariably end up with a narrow, Eurocentric way to teach history. This strips history of the lives that lived it in favor of promoting a uniform story of history. I appreciated Chang’s explanation of how he structures his curriculum thematically, beginning with a short chronological explanation to give students a frame of reference.

On a slightly less radical approach we have Daccord’s blog post questioning the “why” of what is included in the curriculum. Daccord shared that in his content heavy APUSH class his department decided to cut roughly 25% of the AP Content and roughly 20% in class teaching time. Rather than focusing on covering a mile of content an inch deep, he focused on a deeper approach based on skills and practice. In addition to this the class focused in on the document and source analysis portion of the AP exam, building up student’s abilities to analyze documents and make their own arguments supported by sources. At the end of the day what do we want to teach our students, a list of historical facts or the ability to think historically and analyze the past and its effects of life today.

Diana Laufenberg ends the group readings this week with her analysis of thematically teaching history. She describes her frustration at the lack of understanding Americans hold towards their own history saying “America has never excelled at knowing its own past.” Her analogy of themes becoming bookshelves on which students can place the mountains of facts they are expected to learn during their course. A way to allow students to couch their own knowledge while organizing it in a way for them to easily retrieve and employ it later.

As discussed above, a chronological approach to history strips away the teacher’s ability to delve deeply into the subject, and as such we lose the ability to explore multiple perspectives of history. “Listening to Students Talk About Gender in the World History Classroom” delves into this issue, touching on the fact that students are more than willing to discuss issues of gender and representation when given a constructive outlet to do so.

11-Thematic Instruction

Week 11 Readings – Kayla Ritchey

In this weeks readings, it is debated what the best way to organize a curriculum is, and the benefits and setbacks of each strategy. In the Civic Educator’s article, Jayson’s theory on curriculum mapping and the best way to teach a history course is explored. He says that he believe a thematic approach is extremely useful for connecting with students, rather than the standard chronological format. He described that when teaching chronologically, it often seems like teachers just try to teach as much content as possible rather than really connecting witht he students. I agree with this, but I think that teaching non chronologically can be a little confusing for the students. I think that students can have a hard time figuring out what themes take place concurrently.

In the second article, ‘Asking the Why of the Curriculum,” Will Richardson references his AP U.S History Class and how when he began to focus more on inquiry and synthesization rather than content “an inch deep and a mile wide.” By focusing more on giving students the skills to synthesize and think like a historian rather than forcing memorization of tons of content, his students exam scores improved. This is because rather than answering question by memorization, students were using their skills to use context clues and make inferences while synthesizing the articles. This allowed them to be able to answer the questions without knowing a ton about the topic. I think this is especially important in history classes because it allows students to develop important skills rather than simply memorizing facts and figures.

Next, in Diana Laufenberg’s “The Pitfalls of Chronology,” she discusses once again why a thematic education in history is superior to the chronological method. One analogy that I really enjoyed her use of was that of history as a bookshelf, and that everyone shelves theirs differently. I thought it was very insightful that she explained that there is no one correct way to organize history, and really, it is the teachers job to make the shelf as accessible for their students as possible.

Personally, I think a mix of both chronological learning and thematic learning is necessary to give students the best education possible. Additionally, I think that above all, teachers need to focus on showing their students how to think like historians and use that knowledge to make connections to points in history they havent memorized facts about. Inquirical education is extremely important, and provides students with the skills they need to continue learning in other subects and after school.

11-Thematic Instruction

Week 11 Post– Holly Hendrix

This week’s readings were about assessing different approaches to teaching history (mainly chronological and thematic). When I think about all of my history classes I have taken so far (both high school and college), every single one of them have been approached chronologically, which is the traditional way we are all so used to. I am not going to say that we should throw out chronological teaching, but I do think that it is the safest way of teaching that a lot of educators fall back on. It is important for teachers to broaden their horizon and experiment with other approaches. The readings this week give suggestions on why we should move away from the chronological approach in teaching the curriculum, and how educators could go about doing that.

The first reading was the article “Civic Spotlight: Redesigning a Thematic World History Curriculum.” The article spotlights an educator that redesigned his world history curriculum to be thematic. Like most of us, the teacher in the spotlight wants their students to come out of their class understanding the importance of history and making connections between their identity and what they learned. They mention that their issue with chronological curriculum is that it puts pressure on the teacher to teach as much content as possible and that the students find the content hard to relate to. They give their new units based on themes surrounding the content and mention that project based learning pairs well with thematic curriculum. This article was a good glimpse into how a teacher changed their way of teaching because they felt like what they were doing was not good for them or their students. If we choose to either start off thematic or want to explore the idea of it, the suggestions made in this article are a good starting point. The second reading was the article “Asking the WHY of Curriculum.” The educators in the article needed to change their curriculum due to COVID-19 turning everything online/hybrid and reducing the time for teaching. They cut content and in-class teaching time, and saw higher scores as a result. That happened because they provided a framework with an inquiry-based approach that allowed students to learn to think critically about content. Inquiry-based learning emphasizes the role of student’s in how they learn, and it obviously gives results that we would want as educators. By giving students the base skills they need at the beginning of class, they are able to strengthen that skill with the practice they will get in the activities and content they get next. That type of learning is something that I think that could be a challenge to implement, but if it catches on with students and educators then it is definitely beneficial to student learning. 

The third reading was the PDF “The Pitfalls of Chronology.” Continuing with the theme of dogging on chronology in history classrooms, this article focuses on moving to a thematic approach to teaching American History. Similar to the “Asking the WHY of Curriculum” article, this article recommends providing the base framework (bookshelves) that students will need throughout the curriculum to better recall and understand information. For the writer, the themes are the framework because they structure the class and allow students to better see patterns and trends as they continue to learn more information. I liked the example that the writer gave for their War unit and how the students drive the learning. One of the main things that is driven throughout all of the readings, and especially this one, is the idea that student-led learning is important and allows students to have a bigger role in their learning. For the last reading I chose to read the “Listening to Students Talk About Gender in the World History Classroom” section out of the textbook. I picked this reading because, while I have taken one women’s history class (History of Women and Law, would highly recommend it to everybody), I definitely feel like I have not had enough training in gender in history and wanted to learn about how I could implement the theme better into my future classroom. The student discussion in the reading was a really good example of students leading their own learning experience in a positive way (similar to the War Unit example mentioned above). I will definitely be willing to try something like that out in my future classroom as a way for students to really get into gender and social hierarchies of certain areas of the world. 

Like I mentioned in my introduction, there is a place for chronology in history and we should not just throw it out immediately. However, if we want our students to do more than just memorize dates, facts, and events, then we need to take a step away from the traditional approach of only chronological teaching and try out the different approaches mentioned in the readings. All four of the readings encourage us as educators to try a different approach to teaching our history curriculum. If accomplished in the right way, a new approach (either a thematic approach or a combined approach of both thematic and chronological) can be beneficial to both student and teacher because the students are better able to use historical thinking and see common themes throughout history, while the teacher can better focus on themes and prepare less content (which allows for more time to focus on the important content and for trying out more new things!).

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Sabastion Haywood’s Week 10 Blog Post

I find this article to be very eye opening and yet very informative at the same time. Looking back on it I can tell you that I was one of those students who cared more about the grade than I did on how well on the assignment. The only class where I generally cared for was my history class and overall I did very well in those. Many students nowadays come to class for a grade and nothing else. I really like this quote from the “Getting Them To Read Our Comments” section. “Each student would then have to find, circle, and correct all of the errors before receiving her grade. By holding back student grades — and thus delaying the moment at which students stop caring about the paper — minimal marking forces students to actually engage with the instructor’s remarks.” The advice the article gave gives sound advice on how to get the students more involved with the learning. I really like the idea of just leaving a grade and having them come talk to you as a teacher. Another good idea that I really like is just marking the paper up and having them correct or come talk to you about it so that the students can have a chance at raising their grades. I think it would be very important for the teacher to make sure that they should not worry about their grades and focus on the material. 

Citations: 
Gooblar, David. “Getting Them To Read Our Comments.” Chronicle Community for higher ed jobs, career tools and advice, November 2, 2017. https://community.chronicle.com/news/1129-getting-them-to-read-our-comments.

11-Thematic Instruction

Week 11 Readings

Thematic instruction was not something I had heard of before this week’s readings but it is something that is very interesting to me. I was initially more skeptical of the idea of thematic instruction, but it does seem to be more conducive to a more complete understanding of the content. The Civic Educator article providing an alternative course layout was a very good read that provided what I saw as a very interesting and feasible course layout. Additionally, the Educator article stated that students like the thematic classroom more, which is optimistic.

I was really interested in the alternative view of the Long 19th Century. The categorization of the various revolutions that defined the period into the four broad categories was intriguing and something that I feel like kids would find really interesting, especially if they were requested to sort the revolutions themselves based on what they know about them. Additionally, the underscoring of the Industrial Revolution’s importance was something that I found interesting and incredibly important. I know in my classroom experience the Industrial Revolution’s importance was underscored.

Ultimately, I think that thematic instruction is a very interesting prospect that I hope takes hold in the future.

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Week 11 Readings – Clint Henderson

This week focused mainly on curriculum within a history class, and the issues and faults within the traditional ways of teaching history. However, two of the readings from this week specifically clicked and worked together well, one discussing the issues of time when trying to cover all of the contents within a history class, and one discussing a different way to go about it that might be more successful, which is what I would like to discuss.

In “Asking the WHY of curriculum” by Thomas Daccord, he focuses mainly on the issue of not having enough time to cover the contents of a history class within a certain period. Specifically, he goes into detail about Covid -19, how learning has changed and will continue to change over time, through things such as hybrid classes, remote learning, and even some schools gathering back in classes in person. All of these bring new struggles and new adversities to the table, and this cuts down on actual time for teaching, as if it wen’t already a problem. Daccord talks about prioritizing what needs to be taught, and the old saying that “more isn’t always better.” He talks about cutting down the curriculum content and focusing more on what’s important and teaching students skills that are more relevant that just facts, which leads to the second reading that really worked well with this one.

“Civic Spotlight: Redesigning a Thematic World History Curriculum” by Jayson Chang hits hard on redesigning a curriculum to fit specific needs. Chang really discusses the way that traditional teaching standards and methods are not the best way to teach a history class, World History in this case. He talks about the cons of teaching history chronologically, with issues such as leaving important content out in order to cover content quickly, or having students specifically remember facts that will not benefit them in the future. Chang then goes into detail about how he redesigned a history class to make it thematic rather than chronological, and how it made more sense to his students and ultimately proves to be a better and more efficient teaching method.

I think this is important the talking about the first reading because it is an answer to the solution. Both of the readings bring up great questions, mainly focusing on what is and is not important for us to know, and why it is important. Why is history important? One reading focuses mainly on the problem itself, especially within our society and the Covid-19 crisis, and the other gives a great example of one way to solve the problem. I thin this is a great link between the two readings.

11-Thematic Instruction

Week 11 Readings- Margie Wescott

History is a growing subject. When I decided it was what I wanted to teach, it never occurred to me how much content I would be responsible for passing on to my students. As a self-proclaimed history nerd, I remember being excited about all the information I was getting in school, I didn’t question why it was important or why I should know it. I was just delighted to know it, to have the history of the world at my fingertips. Now, as someone studying to teach it, that’s not something I want to do to myself or my students. I’m sure there will be students that will eat up every bit of information I give them, but there will be more students that truly do not care, and I don’t blame them. This week’s readings were a refreshing and inspiring approach to how I can go into my classroom and present information to my students in a way that they just might care about.

Most subjects are taught chronologically. In math you need to understand certain skills to move onto others, and it stands to reason that in history would operate the same way. It played out on a timeline; it should be taught as one. This, however, leads to empty facts and ultimately useless trivia. History is being taught with “what” and “who” facts, information that encourages memorization over critical thinking. To use the words of Thomas Daccord, you end up teaching history that’s “a mile wide and an inch deep.” In comes Thematic History. Thematic History takes away some of the “what” and introduces the “why”. You replace the facts with questions. Students are given the tools to engage in critical thinking without being distracted by an endless string of facts. As students answer questions and connect the dots, the most important facts come in and they actually stick.

I think Jayson Chang’s article really presented this idea in a way that was approachable and easy to understand. Teaching the French Revolution is pointless and uninteresting. It’s facts about the downfall of monarchy and Napoleon Bonaparte riding around on a horse in a place many students will never see. By teaching a broader unit about Revolutions as a whole, you get to transition away from the repetitive facts and into a conversation about why revolutions happen, how they’re effective, and where we see them today. It gives history a whole new context that pulls students in because it can apply to them.

I think it’s still important to incorporate some chronology in history, it provides context and important framework, but I think the days of relying on it have passed. Thematic history is better for students and takes away some of the pressure from teachers. Everyone wins. I already know history is the best subject ever, and I want my students to feel the same way. It’s time to make a change and move into a new chapter of history teaching. Viva la revolution.

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Week 10-Tony Rodriguez

This week’s readings focused on grading and rubrics. In Gooblar’s article he talks about how the biggest reason students don’t engage with the feedback teachers leave on their papers is that those papers are now behind the students. Once we put a final grade on a paper, it is effectively dead to students. It is no longer something the student can or wants to improve upon, and is no longer something most students will spend much time thinking about. I can definitely support the fact that this is true because I dealt with the same issue as a student that when I turned a paper in and it was graded that was it I didn’t look at that paper again. Obviously of course now looking back I should have but I didn’t. Gooblar says that students may want to do well in class, but if comments on papers either point out mistakes students have made on a paper they’ve already turned in or offer lessons to be applied on some far-off-in-the-future assignment, there’s not much incentive for them to pay attention now. And Gooblar is definitely right about this as it has shown and past students like me can confirm this.

In regards to Zawlocki’s rubric I style I agree and disagree to a certain extent. And that extent is that this rubric could maybe work for elementary and middle school but for high school I don’t think so. This is because of course high school students are developing their own independency as well as rebellion and responding to grading or evaluation a certain way. Doing the rubric involving Not Yet! or Almost! or Got It! Although it is explained in further detail in the rubric. This does not benefit the student, the student needs have a rubric style that will lead them to help understand how they can do better on the next paper or revise this paper from what the teacher wants them to know what to do right in writing papers and what not to do and understand why its wrong. Simple short based comments like this rubric are explained in its meaning in detail but I feel highlighted or circled marks and questions are more appropriate and more answering when the student knows what they’re coming to the teacher to understand better.

I also favor how Gooblar actually tackles this style some but have the students edit there papers themselves which is a great way to get the student involved to what is wrong and the reason why and the teacher being able to explain it to the student. Teachers primary goal is for students to understand learn what they are doing and if they do something wrong they need to know why from the teacher so they can do better the next time. Not just get a graded rubric of a paper and then toss that material or paper or project aside and completely forget about it. That’s not learning and understanding material.

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Week 10-Carter Etgen

This weeks reading were centered on grading and how to properly set up a rubric. I started off by reading Gooblars article that he wrote on the topic of students receiving grades and using rubrics. He talks about how often discarded the papers will be that a teacher or professor annotated, as soon as students see what grade they got. Getting stuffed and backpacks and forgotten about seems to be a common theme that most students will do, making the teachers efforts useless, since the students saw their grade and thought no more about it. I think this not only emphasizes how students have began to care less about learning and more about getting a good enough grade to get through school. It almost hurts how much this resonates with me, cause one of the main reasons I wanted to become a History teacher is because of not only my love for the subject, but also because my high school showed such a lack of care and effort towards the subject that it made me feel like I should do something to make a difference in history education.

I think that as teachers of the future, making sure that students are actually retaining the information we give them is one of the most important aspects of our job. Through the way we grade and set up rubrics I think that we can create an environment where students will want to learn and will actually take the information we give them with them later in their life. Zawlockis method of grading with having feedback saying “Almost!” or “Got it!” and things like that can be easily substituted for a grade in a students mind. I think that a student will get a bit of feedback like “almost!” and just move on anyways just like they would if they got an A or B. I think that this method of feedback is not very effective and there needs to be a better way of giving feedback to get the students involved. Reading further into Gooblars article did help me see that you can make students go back and find their own mistakes and edit their work on their own in order to get them to be more involved.

I think that getting students involved in class is probably going to be the biggest challenge in our careers. Most of my experience in school has shown me that students will try to get away with doing very little work, and will assume that most knowledge that we receive in school is useless information. Therefore, getting them involved and interested in our work can be monumental in their development.

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Week 10 – Aaron Rigby

As I know all of you are aware, this week focuses on grading and rubrics. In Gooblar’s post, he talks a lot about students frequently receiving their graded papers, stuffing their papers into their bags, and thus their papers are in the past for the student. For many teachers, this made taking the time to annotate why something is graded a certain way absolutely pointless because students will look for the final grade and then, like previously stated, let that be the end of that.

Unfortunately, I am also guilty of this. Though I do not do this much in my college classes (mostly because I despise making the same mistakes repeatedly nowadays), high school saw me do this nearly systematically. Zawlocki’s webpage post suggests the utilization of rubrics to solve problems, including the use of a, “Not Yet,” “Almost,” and “Got It!” In my honest opinion, this system is pointless and should only be used to benefit the teacher in guiding learning and discussions and not to provide the students with critiques.

If I were a student in a class that followed an outline of rubric like Zawlocki’s, and I was that student, I would make the bare minimum to get the A and not strive for much else. If I got marked as an, “Almost!” odds are it were too late to fix it and I would drop that assignment immediately to pick up the next one. My favorite method of grading to keep students engaged definitely comes from Goobler’s method where he checkmarks and has the students find the mistake, circle them, and correct them prior to receiving their grade.

I believe my favorite method stated above it unique and continues to challenge students further than them just taking a grade and sitting on it, continuing with the next task. I am curious what others are thinking about this, too!