by Matt Doran
This year’s election was a keen reminder to all of us in the civic education community of the importance of teaching students how to evaluate online information. Fake news--in the form of click bait, political propaganda, falsified images, and spurious memes--permeates social media feeds today. Craig Silverman of Buzzfeed highlights the problem in the video linked here. How do we teach students (and citizens) to evaluate online information in order to make informed decisions?
The Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) and the News Literacy Project (NLP) are both taking up the worthy task helping students evaluate online information. SHEG has recently developed and administered assessment tasks for civic online reasoning--the ways in which students search for, assess, and evaluate online information. Civic online reasoning consists of three core competencies: 1) Who is behind the information? 2) What is the evidence? and 3) What do other sources say?
In increasing order of complexity, here are three performance tasks SHEG developed to assess students' use of online information.
The News Literacy Project has developed a suite of teaching tools and elearning modules for evaluating online information:
We have much work to do in the field of civic education in order to help our students become informed participatory citizens. As the methods of receiving and processing information change in the 21st century, our teaching approaches must keep up. SHEG’s civic online reasoning and NLP’s news literacy tools can help us accomplish this task.
by Matt Doran
The emphasis on historical thinking and critical textual analysis has been one of the most positive developments in the field of social studies education in recent years. Reading Like a Historian, Document-Based Questions, Common Core Literacy in History, the C3 Framework, and the new AP U.S. History all place these skills at the forefront of effective history/social science pedagogy. While these have been important skills within the discipline for some time, they are increasingly being recognized as interdisciplinary skills as well. Accordingly, the myth that social studies must be a “backburner” subject can be thoroughly debunked.
At the 2016 National Council for the Social Studies Conference, I was excited to see how the new SAT is assessing and reporting on students' abilities to critically analyze history and social science related texts on the Reading, Writing & Language, and Math tests. The texts are drawn from a category of “U.S. Founding Documents and Texts from the Great Global Conversation.” These include, “engaging, often historically and culturally important, works grappling with the issues at the heart of civic and political life.” Students need to be able to: read historical sources, cite evidence to support arguments, and interpret informational social science graphics. On the Math test, questions involving problem solving & data analysis can assess students’ understanding of how to draw a reliable conclusion to a social studies research question.
Six full-length practice tests for the SAT can be accessed online here: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests. To group the questions related to history/social studies, download the “Scoring Your SAT Practice Test” for each test and scroll to the section labeled “Get Cross-Test Scores” (green).
The inclusion of history/social studies textual analysis on the new SAT also demonstrates the increasing alignment of College Board initiatives. College Board recommends using the practice DBQs and Short-Answer Questions from the new AP U.S. History as SAT preparation tools. This is another positive step in the direction of developing the critically-minded students and citizens we need for the 21st century world.
by Matt Doran
Bags are packed. Guidebook app is marked. It's time for #NCSS16. This will be my seventh NCSS Conference, and I have lost track of how many Washington D.C. trips I have made in the last 10 years. I am a lifelong learner, and I take conferences pretty seriously. They are always energizing experiences. I have a broad range of responsibilities in my job, and even more professional interests, which means I am never at a loss for a relevant session. In fact, my main problem has been deciding among the 4-5 sessions I have marked for each time slot.
A few years ago, a colleague and fellow NCSS conference fan introduced me to the the concept of the conference hashtag and Twitter dicussions in general, both of which have empowered my personal learning network at conferences and beyond. This year I'm hoping to add a few live blog posts to my social media presence. Modeling our expectations for teachers and students, there is no better way to process a day of learning than to immediately write and share out some thoughtful reflections.
On a related note, I am also happy to announce a new collorative effort for the Social Studies for the 21st Century blog. My colleagues, Karen Fiedler and Lynda Ray, will be joining the blog (bitmojis and profiles coming soon!). They are two of the finest educators I have worked with in my career--insightful leaders, inspiring role models, and passionate advocates for all children. I am confident that our team effort will far outshine my quite sporadic blogging efforts!