The National Council for the Social Studies "hopes" that "this letter will be used as an example, and inspire you to take similar action."
Should Delaware's social studies educators be lobbying for national, Common Core Standards? Why or why not?
*Collaborate with students in the formulation of classroom rules. Expose students to a brief list of poorly written rules (see "No Vehicles in the Park" at http://www.nhbar.org/pdfs/novehinpark.pdf ). Have students analyze the rules for defects with an eye toward improving them. Then ask, what are the quality of good rules and present them with a list of rules that you are proposing for the classroom (I always left some intentional as well as unintentional flaws ;). Have the students work in small groups to review, refine, and improve your drafts. Discuss and vote on the classroom rules. This process allows you to manage in a manner that suits your style while building a sense of democratic action and ownership within the classroom. You can always remind the students, "you wrote the rules."
*Make or send a few personalized phone calls or e-mails to parents/guardians every night at the very beginning of the year to establish a positive relationship. Don't wait until there is a problem! Some are very hesitant to do this but the payoff is significant. This is time VERY well spent.
*Maximize instructional time while improving management. Plan an "entry activity" or "bellringer" at the beginning of every day or class so students get to work the moment they enter the classroom. My entry activities were pretty consistent, unapologetically DSTP focused, and involved posting a prompt or task before class. I used to place a stack of index cards (cards resemble amount of response space on DSTP) on a table next to the door. As students entered they picked up an index card, took 2-3 minutes to respond while I took roll or conducted preliminary classroom business. Use the DSTP rubric formula (0-2 scale) to grade then share the rubric and have students grade each others' work (yes, it's legal).
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- Should there be a shift in, or merging of, approaches?
- Is one approach better than another?
- Is you district or school moving in a particular direction?
- In which direction should the social studies community be moving?
- Do you think that plans to hold a weekend mini-conference should move forward?
- Would you attend a Friday evening/Saturday conference or a Saturday only conference?
A recent article by Angie Wagner of the Associated Press resurrects an ongoing debate surrounding homework. Critics of homework argue that it is frequently mindless busy work and denies children family time as well as opportunities to explore, read for fun, and recreate. Schools, the article suggests, are paying attention. The NEA as well as the national PTA are now endorsing the "10 minute" rule credited to Harris Cooper of Duke University. The "rule" calls for no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade i.e., no more than 10 minutes in first grade...no more than 110 minutes in eleventh grade.
What recommendations do you have in terms of homework?
The new Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) envisions social studies testing once in the elementary grades (K-5), once in the middle grades, and again in a high school end-of-course exam that will be phased in as the budget permits. The most recent proposal schedules social studies testing in grades 4 and 7. The new assessment system also envisions an adaptive model in which students move through different test trajectories depending on their responses with quick feedback.
- What are your thoughts on the changes?