Objectives
  1. Students practice thinking critically about sources and biases.
  2. Students making connections between ancient history and the present day.


Overview


Two big goals that come with teaching social studies are critical thinking skills and making connections. This can be very difficult when you teach social studies, because many times students do not see any connection between what happened long ago and today. One way I like to show them connections is to look at current events and have students look at how the past has affected the present and what changes have occurred. This lesson looks at current events and asks students to make connections, but it is also a practice in thinking critically about sources and where information comes from and what their own personal thoughts are. This is an example I would use with my 6th grade students on the topic of Ancient Egypt. This lesson could be adapted in many ways for different contents but also different grade levels.


Materials


  • computer time (could be in computer lab or access to laptops would be ideal)
  • current event articles centered around specific content (for this example Egypt)
  • Diigo account for the class


Lesson Procedure


  1. Have articles about topic picked out for the students to read and placed in the Diigo bookmarks for easy access. (For 6th graders, this is how I would do it so more time is spent on reading and making connections than trying to find an article)
  2. Students are to read the article using the Diigo tools. They are to read looking for connections to class like vocab, specific concepts, etc. They can use the highlighter on specific text and leave comments or a sticky note. Comments should be focused on class material. Also encourage students to make personal connections and ask question about the content if they can. They are also to read the article, looking at its source. Where did the information come from? Is there any bias? Does the article cite its sources? They should leave sticky notes and highlight portions in a different color that deal with the information and comments on the sources of the article. The following are examples from two articles with student comments.
  3. All of the student comments would be saved in the class Diigo group on those articles. With a 6th grade class this would take an entire class period.
  4. To follow up on this activity, the students would periodically have time like during bell work or computer lab time to read the other articles and their classmates' comments and leave comments of their own. This opens up a dialogue between classmates about their ideas on the articles and maybe answer each other's questions.

Resources


  1. www.diigo.com
  2. www.nytimes.com
  3. www.newsy.com