The use of text sets supports infusion of the Common Core Literacy in History/Social Studies standards, and holds great potential for creating a 21st century social studies classroom. A text set is a collection of readings organized around a common theme or line of inquiry. The anchor text is the focus of a close reading. Supporting texts are connected meaningfully to the anchor text and to each other to deepen student understanding of the anchor text.
In social studies, close reading of content texts is not an end in itself, but rather a means to creating successful citizens. In this model, anchor texts can be pulled from rich collections of primary and secondary sources. Supporting texts from current events show the enduring relevance of the themes and questions raised in these readings from history, geography, and government and economics. Applying the tools of disciplinary thinking and common core literacy standards across the text sets prepares students to engage in meaningful civic discourse and take informed action.
Here is one example of an inquiry-based text set unit:
Course Overarching Essential Question
- Should high school American history classes be patriotic?
Unit Compelling Question
- Should high school students be taught American exceptionalism?
- How did American exceptionalism shape American identity in the late 19th century?
- What is the enduring impact of the doctrine of American exceptionalism?
- The Significance of the Frontier in American History, Frederick Jackson Turner (1893)
- Our Country, Josiah Strong (1885)
- “History Class Becomes a Debate on America” (2015)
- “The History Channel and the Myth of American Exceptionalism” (2015)
For a complete text lesson, with anticipation guide, adapted readings, and close reading questions, download the resources from this page on Share My Lesson (free account required).