Social studies is all about making connections—connections between historical events, philosophies, and people. To do so requires building students’ ability to read closely,
allowing them to pull information out of the text and apply it in new ways—all things that the Common Core emphasizes across many subjects.
Teachers across the country have contributed to a growing knowledge base of literacy-rich
lessons that work across many subject areas. The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC), a teacher-designed framework of Core-aligned lessons and
assignments, has helped teachers deepen their use of complex texts and create
effective writing assignments that build on students’ knowledge, rather than
merely require them to regurgitate facts.
are built around modules—subject-specific reading and
writing assignments that include daily mini-tasks that help build student
skills and culminate in a larger assignment.
Teachers use Common Core-aligned templates to design modules that are
rigorous, address targeted skills, include detailed lesson plans, and result in
a writing assignment that can be evaluated using rubrics to assess the key
skills and content taught.
studies, these modules focus on lessons and assignments that connect
the Core’s emphasis on close reading and persuasive writing to social studies
topics. The emphasis on primary sources helps bring to life the abstract
concepts found in social studies—concepts like economics, human interactions,
and the environment. For example, one lesson connecting three major
religions to a geographic site, Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif,
prompts students to explore the connections between people and place. Another exemplar lesson from the LDC focuses on
pollution in Mexico City, prompting students to work with a broad range of
texts, from newsmagazines and websites to scholarly journals, to identify the
causes of pollution and its effects on the city’s citizens.
studies writing relies so heavily on research with primary sources, media
specialists are also focusing on ways to help support teachers and students working
with the Common Core. The American Association of School Librarians also offers
a database of what it calls “21st Century Learner” lesson plans
for writing that are crosswalked with the Core.
studies teachers like Quinton Granville, who teaches 7th grade at
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Atlanta, the LDC has helped emphasize the
use of primary texts, close reading, and a wide range of writing assignments—essays,
podcasts, and interactive presentations on tablets. The end goal? Making sure
that all students can make convincing arguments supported by evidence, both
verbally and in writing. In Granville’s class, that goal was put to the test
when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked for student essays about the
Common Core. An essay by one of his students,
13-year-old Chantel Simmons, was the only one the newspaper published that
wasn’t written by a high school student. “It’s the kind of opportunity that
matches with everything we talked about,” Granville says. “We don’t perform for
the classroom, we perform for the moment—the moment you hope to see your hard
work pay off.”
Read more about
Granville’s class and Chantel’s essay here