Chapter 5 Social Studies

Think about concrete changes that you, your team, or your faculty might consider making to social studies curriculum and instruction on the basis of this chapter. Be sure to consider the following issues that were brought up:

  • Significantly reducing the number of topics to be taught in each social studies course, and dividing them by quarter
  • Carefully selecting textbook pages, current articles, and historical sources to be read for each of the essential topics on approximately a weekly basis
  • Choosing which topics and standards to which you will apply the templates for literacy and interactive lecture in each social studies course
  • Developing, as a team, good higher-order questions and prompts for each common reading
  • Deciding how you will teach and model close, analytical reading in social studies
  • The number and approximate length of argumentative/analytical papers to be assigned for each unit and grading period

Chapter 4 ELA made simple

List and discuss the most important, concrete changes that you, your team, or your faculty might need to make to English curriculum and instruction on the basis of this chapter. What immediate steps can you take to begin implementing your first priority? How can you help support the English curriculum in your particular course based on what you read?

Story and Application

What are your feelings/thoughts on the following passage from the book?

P. 9 — Some might remember a teacher I described in my book Results Now (Schmoker, 2006). His teaching consisted of the oldest, best-known curriculum and teaching practices, and was rich in authentic literacy practices. His only technology tool was an overhead projector. I observed him a few times during his first year at the lowestachieving high school in our community. Watching him, I had an epiphany: All he did was actually teach a sound English curriculum, rich in reading and writing, using ordinary, structurally sound lessons (those which incorporate the same basic elements we’ve known for half a century). I will elaborate on these in later chapters, but in essence, he taught whole-class lessons focused on a clear learning objective in short instructional “chunks” or segments, punctuated by multiple cycles of guided practice and formative assessment (“checks for understanding”). And he did this every day. He was neither particularly charismatic
nor theatrical. He was what any teacher or team can be, if liberated from the new programs and initiatives we force on teachers every year. Interestingly, none of his teaching in any way reflected any recent innovations or
programs whatsoever.
The result? The success rate in his classes alone was so high that his entire school made the largest writing gains of any high school in the state (from 59 percent to 85 percent passing the high school exit exam). More startling still, his school outperformed the other two schools in the city, despite their overwhelming demographic advantages. His simple, effective teaching and curriculum obliterated the socioeconomic factor.

Chapter 1 continued

Pg. 5 — Despite the central importance of reading and writing to general learning and college preparation, students rarely engage in authentic reading and writing activities, even in language arts.

1.  Do you agree or disagree with this statement?  Why or why not?

2.  What percentage of reading that a student does comes from a textbook?


What do you think about this comment?  page 2 of the Introduction  How can we avoid this…this year?

We insult and frustrate our teachers and leaders when we keep asking them to adopt complex, confusing new initiatives and programs that can’t possibly succeed in the absence of decent curriculum, lessons, and literacy activities.

Introduction and Chapter 1 Focus by M. Schmoker

Please respond to these two comments based on the introduction and chapter 1.

1.  Do we have a practice(s) that you would classify as a fad in your grade-level, department, or building?  If so, elaborate on what that is and why you think it is a fad.

2.  Reflect on your classroom. Do you have a common curriculum? Do you have sound lessons on a daily basis? How often do you have students read with a purpose in your