Connecting Lessons to Common Core: A Missed Opportunity

In a few weeks, I am sitting down with my Social Studies department to discuss the Common Core standards for History/Social Studies and identify lessons and activities that meet them. The idea of this meeting really excites me because I love hearing what my colleagues are doing in the classroom. We rarely find the time to sit together and discuss ideas (which is partially why I love #sschat because it’s a group of educators working to develop and meet the needs of our students who are growing up in a rapidly adapting environment).

As I was trying to find lessons that aligned, I came across one about bias that I really enjoyed and with tweaking could be a really great lesson.

Here is the standard that I am going to address:

WHST.11-12.1. Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content

Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.

After learning about the 19th century definitions of liberal, conservative, and radical I had students take a look at one of the following events (Charles X of France trying to establish an absolute government, Paris mobs overthrowing the monarchy of Louis Phillippe, and the reign of Napoleon III) and rewrite the section of the textbook in an extremely biased way for each of the three newly-developed political philosophies. In groups, students then shared their interpretations with the class.

The purpose of the activity was to critique the events by using different lenses. And while it was successful and students had a decent understanding of the difference between the three political philosophies, it is an incomplete activity! A lost opportunity.

This should have been an introduction to a larger activity in which students created webpages (or newspapers) to examine primary documents and assess their bias. We could have had competing websites with students covering the events, speeches, and actions from their particular perspective.

This would have also covered the below standard!

RH.11-12.6. Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

This could have, almost organically, led to an amazing discussion about today’s media and how as individuals we must challenge ourselves to listen to many points of view until we formulate an opinion.

But alas, I did not do that. I did not see it then. Which is why, I am glad that I am taking this time to reflect upon my past lessons. Next time, I will do better. And I will work to hard accomplish the two standards mentioned above with my classes this year.

I think it was Socrates who (may have) said, “An unexamined lesson isn’t worth reteaching.” Wise words, Great One. You really captured the sentiment of this blog post.

For more on my Connecting Lessons to Common Core series click the links below:
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: Nationalistic Travel Brochures
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: Imperialism and Star Wars
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: Extra Extra! Primary Documents to News Articles!
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Assignment
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: Personal Journals during the French Revolution
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: Your Own Personal Latin American Revolution
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: Enlightenment – Declaration of Independence
Connecting Lessons to Common Core: A Missed Opportunity (Political Philosophies ~ Conservative, Liberal, Radical)

About Michael K. Milton

I teach students Social Studies at Burlington High School. When I became a teacher, I believed that students would frequently give me apples. This has not happened (not even a Red Delicious ~ a name which is a misnomer). However, my school has given me a MacBook Pro and an iPad in an effort to right this wrong (I assume). I'm very lucky to work in a 1:1 school.
This entry was posted in Common Core, History, Reflection and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Connecting Lessons to Common Core: A Missed Opportunity

  1. mrsaltier says:

    Thank you for sharing your ideas/thought process. My co-teacher and I are just beginning to align our lessons with the common core and we will be using/stealing your ideas as we teach the same topics. Pretty impressive for a new teacher!

  2. Nice activity. With your permission, I would like to share this during one of my RttT sessions.

  3. I really like the overall shape of the lessons you are proposing here as ways to engage students with the content of your course and the standards.At a detail level, I might plan to include some periodic prompts for individual reflection and writing when students’ review each others’ work (re-writes, webpages, etc.). I think that would help ensure more individuals are addressing the standards directly and these could also part of my formative assessment.

    • @42thinkdeep says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback!

      Your point about adding time in for regular reflection about the learning process does not fall upon deaf ears! That is something that I have tried to incorporate but will make a major effort to do next year.

      As far as the review and rewrite process, I actually had some success with that this year in the term paper process! After submitting, my students had the option for a rewrite to earn 1/2 the points back. I was impressed with the number of students who took me up on this offer. Again next year, I will be having my students do more blogging and commenting on each others blogs as it opens the number of eyes on a students writing (which will, hopefully, cause the student to take more time editing). There was a blog post a few weeks ago about bad drafts that became masterpieces that I should share with my students during the rolling out of the class expectations.

      Again, thank you for your response! I will definitely be looking to address these.


  4. Pingback: Common Core Literacy in the Content Areas | racetothetopdannas

  5. Pingback: Going Meta: Cataloguing My Past Two Years of Blogging | Michael K. Milton ~ @42ThinkDeep

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