New social studies curriculum promotes literacy, free to teachers nationwide

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Concept illustration depicting social studies. Illustration credit: Kaitlyn Beukema

ANN ARBOR—When was the Reconstruction period of American history? If you said 1865-1877 you may have a good memory, but what do you really know about the events during that time?

This style of learning—memorizing dates and facts—doesn’t engage students and they don’t learn much. So educators and researchers have called for active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios.

To that end, eighth-graders now can learn about Reconstruction by analyzing the progress and setbacks African-Americans experienced with a new, free, downloadable curriculum called Read.Inquire.Write.

This teaching technique, called an inquiry approach, uses questions to drive learning and support students’ analytical thinking, but the lack of available curriculum resources has been a barrier to large-scale change.

Read.Inquire.Write. is a research-based curriculum from U-M School of Education professors Chauncey Monte-Sano and Mary Schleppegrell. It was developed over four years in partnership with the Braitmayer Foundation, Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program, Spencer Foundation and local schools.

The curriculum offers resources and tools that support students in reading, analyzing and discussing complex texts from multiple perspectives as they develop and critique arguments about historical and social issues.

Read.Inquire.Write. engages all students, including those who struggle with reading and English language learners. Researchers found that these students participate as fully as students who read above grade level. The curriculum also supports all students to write increasingly complex arguments over the three years of the curriculum.

The topics range from challenges of urbanization (water inequality in Mexico City) and globalization (child labor in Nepal) to the beliefs and practices of past civilizations (ancient Inca, Sumer and Athens) to foundational topics in U.S. history (the Founders’ views of presidential powers, Cherokee removal).

The materials can be customized for different classroom contexts.

“Read.Inquire.Write. seeks to support teachers as they work with students on ways of reading, thinking and writing that help students deeply engage with social and historical issues,” said Monte-Sano, U-M associate professor of educational studies.

All Read.Inquire.Write. materials are free and login is only necessary for accessing downloads.

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Author: Admin