History matters, people.
I expect that all students will be able to contrast several areas of daily life in the 1750s with daily life in the 2010s. That’s part of our “America Before the Revolution” unit. If I asked them to respond in the first week of school, their answers would be generally on-target: “People didn’t have cars so they had to walk everywhere … They were dirty … Colonists wore dresses and suits and hats…” These statements are true but not well-informed, and missing some key elements of colonial life that help explain the Revolutionary period.
In terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy, this objective asks students to ANALYZE the daily life of a historical period – to distinguish multiple aspects of 1750s life and note differences with their life today (which can rely on their prior knowledge). Why can’t they do this analysis right away? Because we skipped some steps.
The italicized vocabulary is the most basic level of understanding. Some students might already know these terms. They are essential terms that will appear in later activities, sources, etc. in this unit and perhaps some later ones too. These terms could be externally maintained (on a word wall, a reference sheet, etc.) or we might expect them to be internal (memorized). We could place these on the lowest Bloom’s Taxonomy level:
The creators and evaluators can spend 1 or 2 class periods on a self-selected task. These are more independent, more unique, more “fun” for students. The quality is almost guaranteed to be high, because they have already successfully analyzed and understood the topic. We’re not throwing them into the deep end to make a skit or build a model about something they barely understand. These projects might be a continuation of an earlier class activity, such as writing a possible next-day diary entry of the primary source we looked at in class, or a based-on-real-life skit/comic conversation that includes historical details in a humorous way.
It’s tempting to leap ahead into this exploratory zone, because it’s more fun and engaging and kids seem to be learning. However, if we skip the UNDERSTAND, APPLY, ANALYZE steps (and the two levels of assessment along the way), then we have set up many students to fail. Even the best and brightest will not get as much out of these cool projects, or they will get exhausted and needlessly frustrated by researching details. The teacher is also likely to get irritated and bothered by questions during the workshop time, or sifting through a stack of projects with widely-varying quality.
Effective flipping for social studies should follow the Bloom’s Taxonomy levels by:
- giving multiple convenient opportunities for students to gain essential “low-order” understandings (usually from video lessons)
- expanding & clarifying those understandings with in-class discussions & brief activities (ex. short comic, tweetstorm) that students are prepared to join
- opening up class time to practice skills by applying them in structured and informally-assessed activities AND learn more from primary or secondary sources by applying prior knowledge to find examples, counter-arguments, etc.
- giving multiple opportunities to analyze the issue at a deep level, which all prior activities and lessons have been connected to and preparing for!
- offering proficient students some class time to explore even more deeply by creating and/or evaluating the issue in some way
Thoughts? Complaints? Adulation? Rotten tomatoes?