If you haven't looked at the Critical Thinking Consortium yet (and your are a Social Studies or English teacher) YOU NEED TO! It is a terrific resource. In Social Studies 9, we have been studying issues related to immigration in Canada. Typically, Canada has been...how do we say it....very selective (*cough cough* discriminatory *cough cough*)....about whom they allow into Canada. When looking at how we currently accept immigrants into Canada it is VERY useful to compare it to how we USED to accept immigrants to our country. The Critical Thinking Consortium has a compilation of primary sources on different topics as well as student tasks related to these source packs. I found a great example and adapted it slightly. Why reinvent the wheel?
After finding a source pack of documents pertaining to Chinese Immigration to Canada from 1875-2011, I decided to seek out some ideas and support from the High School Social Studies teacher in my school. I know that she has students work with and compare sources all the time and it is an important skill for high school so we developed a way to 'bridge' the gap between Social 9 and Social 10. She helped me develop the language for the student task and after assessing the final products today I have to say this vertical teaming was a total success. Students who have typically struggled with writing in Social Studies blew me away with their academic and thoughtful responses.
The student task sounded like this: Which source is the best example of continuity in attitude towards Chinese Immigrants to Canada since 1875 and which source is the best example of a change in attitude towards Chinese Immigrants to Canada since 1875?
Even though this activity was not a formal project-based assignment, the focus of the students and snippets of discussion between students that I heard and saw let me know that they were deeply engaged in their task and working rigorously to write a high-quality analysis. Proud teacher moment or what?!
What I learned:
- Discussion and critical questioning skills are VITAL to writing good source analysis.
- Students are very capable of high level work if supported and guided depending on their needs.
- Students like to be challenged. Don't be worried about 'asking too much'. Put it out to them and see what they do with it. I was pleasantly surprised!
- Having a vertical team in place will help build necessary skills for students to be successful in High School. More formal collaboration time would be awesome to develop this team in the future.
Mrs. Katherine (Kate) Weber