Social Studies
Table of Contents


In my email conversation with my former history teacher from high school, we drifted from the original article in the first email to talking about the OGT and the affects that it has on a school. The conversation proved to be rather interesting because I got privileged to inside information on how teachers in my old school viewed our testing policy. I learned quickly that my old school has an odd policy with how to prepare students if they were to fail a portion of the test. The way school deals with students is that they are placed in a remedial class that is based on the test itself. This proves to be downfall of the system because it removes the student from the mainstream curriculum so they do not keep up with learning the actual content the teacher has in their class. Overall I learned that there really is no good way about dealing with the OGT because it simply controls the curriculum in the classroom to the point where it negates what the teacher actually wants to teach.


After establishing contact with my former high school AP US History teacher, I began to provide him with multiple articles on Content Area Reading Strategies, as well as content area reading implementation and methods of assessment for students who may struggle with content area reading in a Social Studies context.

First Article
This article dealt with an antiquated computer software system that ran a program that was designed to evaluate students on their ability to not only read but interpret a text. I recognized that this system was old and would never make it in a modern classroom, but I felt that it was the idea that counted. I talked with my specialist, and he felt that this system was a good idea and would help to provide a baseline for students who are entering high school, and could provide a good baseline test in order to indentify students who may need help in content area reading, or were proficient and should be instructed as such.

Second Article
This article dealt with the implementation of content area reading strategies in the classroom. It did not deal with specific strategies, but instead focused on opportunities to implement strategies, such as when and where a teacher could use these strategies for the most benefit to the class. I read the article and designed two questions to propose to my specialist, and he responded as it pertained to his own classroom. Unfortunately, he did not see much value in these strategies, as he teaches AP courses at an accelerated rate, so time restrictions prevent the use of many of these strategies. Furthermore, the screening program for AP classes makes sure that no student will be placed in an AP setting that cannot handle content area reading, or struggles with Social Studies content or reading textbooks. However, he agreed that in an academic classroom setting, or even an inclusion setting, these strategies would be beneficial to students who might need extra help.

Third Article
In the third correspondence, I moved on from article evaluation to actual discussion. I asked my specialist very blatently if he used content area reading strategies, and I got a very honest answer, which I could sympathize with and appreciate for its relevance to the reality of teaching. He said that most classrooms he has taught simply do not have time to teach the children how to read, and that content area reading is something that the students is expected to come to the class with. However, he does teach AP classes, with the exception of one Academic US History class, and I asked him if he would consider using content area reading strategies in that class. He said that most of the students did not exhibit the need for such strategies, but should it be required he would be more than willing to explore some of the possibilities, which is an essential mindset of a progressive educator.

Fourth Article
My specialist had expressed to me that in order to summarize what the students read in the textbook, he would normally use a teacher based summary and discussion of the text, which would be very similar to something one would encounter in an average collegiate history classroom. I asked him if he would be willing to implement a student based strategy where the summarization was based more on the students, and therefore would allow these advanced AP learners to take more of the burden upon themselves. He expressed interest in this idea, but said that in order to make sure that the maximum amount of correct, relevant, and factual information was imparted instead of a student attempting to summarize a reading that may not have been fully understood or completed, he felt that lecture combined with encouraged student notetaking would benefit the students just as well as a student based summarization. However, he did express interest in trying out the idea to see what happened, though I still have not heard about that implementation.

Fifth Article
For my fifth and final correspondence, I simply tried to summarize and conclude our talk in a sensible and logical manner. I asked him how he felt about content area reading, its strategies for implementation, and its importance in a Social Studies context. I have not heard back from him, but I am very interested to see what a blatently realistic teacher will say about Content Area Reading.


Throughout my meetings with my content area specialist, I have learned many various ways in which I can create active learning through new learning and reading strategies.

What role does writing play in content literacy, and how could you implement writing in the history classroom?

Writing plays a substantial role in the history classroom. It provides you with evidence of students’ level of understanding, while also having them gain experience working with primary/secondary documents. Writing also cements in their mind an element of critical inquiry that they must keep in mind as they begin to write their paper and read over sources. Various means of writing that could be beneficial in a history classroom are:

  1. Journal
    1. Nice idea
    2. Keeps students actively engaged with their reading
    3. Too hard to keep up with
    4. Not always reflective
    5. People run out of steam and just fill it (students get lazy)
  2. Essay OR poetry (you give students a choice)
    1. Another way of expressing yourself
  3. Stream of consciousness journal
    1. Person talks about it as it happens
    2. Reaction journal
    3. Students write questions and reactions as they have them throughout the reading
    4. Not repetitive
  4. Position paper
    1. Student writes a page of impressions and question on a pre assigned reading and presents to class
    2. Not very beneficial to lower achieving students
  5. Stream of consciousness
    1. Good for an FYS
    2. Imagine yourself in a situation where you put yourself in a first person perspective
  6. Term paper
  7. Review
    1. Book/film report
  8. Expository essay
    1. You have to ask a question and present a point of view and defend it
    2. Teaches students to write efficiently and critically while handling time constraints
    3. First and last paragraph focus
    4. Allows for free interpretation and repetition of ones view
    5. You can write whatever you want as long as you can defend it
    6. Gauge students ability to work with texts and think analytically and critically
  9. Outlines
    1. Person writes a paper and reviews it
    2. Then writes a detailed outline of their paper
    3. They turn in their paper to the teacher, and present their outline to the class
    4. Graded on outline
  10. Reactive/response papers
    1. Students read a document, and then write a response paper immediately afterwards
    2. Student writes a paper and then the teacher reads and critiques it and hands it back. Students then re-write it with the changes made.
    3. Excellent for critical thinking
    4. Allows for peer review
    5. Perfect idea, yet not realistic due to the absurd amount of time required

It is all very subjective and can be molded to your classroom in a way that would be most beneficial. Through your experiences teaching, you will find what works best for students and what works best for you. WHATEVER WORKS, USE IT! Writing is such a critical element of content literacy and of active learning. If you can get your students to write with clarity, forcefulness, and focus, you have done your job.

What, in your opinion, would you say is more significant to learning, and why?

  • Role of the student
  • Role of the environment
  • Role of the text

The role of the student and the environment should be proportionally more significant than the role of the text. A student must feel comfortable in a classroom in order to be able to work efficiently. The student must have an environment that is productive and supportive of their learning. The environment is important because it is where the learning actively takes place. The student is equally important because they must have the motivation and put forth the effort the effort that is required to complete the tasks in the class. The student also functions as a source of learning as they work with each other towards a common goal. The text is not as important, because if a student is motivated and in an environment that allows for him/her to focus on their learning, then the text does not have to have all of the directive features and means of drawing the students attention.

Outside of textbooks, what sources of reading would you implement in your class?

"The textbook may or may not be an efficient means of learning. Sometimes learning is best achieved through the analysis and interpretation of primary and secondary sources. This allows students to actively involve themselves with the texts and put things into the perspective of those men and women who were living during the time when the source was written." Another form of learning may not be from a document, but from film. Film plays a crucial role in a students learning process. by watching films, a student gains a visual perspective of what they are studying that exceeds the black and white pages of a book.


Unfortunately, my high school contact did not respond to my e-mails, so I do not have any first hand experience to discuss regarding content area reading. However, I still learned alot from the class and the Article I read regarding multiple source documents in high school classrooms.

It's impossible to adequately discuss everything we talked about during these last 6 weeks, but one of the most important discussions we had was on the issue of diversity. One essential part of being an educator is being sensitive to the diversity of the class you are teaching. According to various studies, by 2020 almost half of the average classroom while be student's from a culture besides our own. This makes being able to be a diverse teacher an essential aspect of being a teacher. In order to teach in these times, one needs to be accepting and try to integrate multiple cultures into your lesson. Instead of only showing the American perspective of things, one needs to be sure to show maybe the Latin American or European perspective as well. By being open and accepting of every student, you can create a safe learning environment. Diversity is an issue that will only get more important as the years go by, and to be a successful educator, one needs to be sure to never make any student feel ashamed for their culture and history.

The article I read was on What happens when students read multiple source documents in history?"What happens when students read multiple source documents in history". It talked alot about how although using multiple sources is a good idea in a high school classroom, but it has problems. One downside of using multiple documents is that without proper and guiding instruction, the student's won't be able to understand and follow along with the information. Also, most of the student's they studied seemed to disregard the information in the documents because they didn't process the information. In order to successfully use multiple documents in a history class, you have to be sure to carefully explain each document's perspective and the background information, otherwise they won't comprehend them. Also, the studies showed that most student's formed an opinion of an incident after reading 2 documents, and wouldn't grow after that. This article showed by the benefits of multiple sources, while also detailing some of the negatives to using them in a social studies classroom.

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