Archive for March, 2011

EDU 6133- Diversity in America

Lesson Plan- The African American Experience Prior to the Civil War

Grade 9 EALR 5.  Social Studies Skills – The student understands and applies reasoning skills to conduct research, deliberate, form, and evaluate positions through the processes of reading, writing, and communicating.

GLE (component) 5.1 – Uses critical reasoning skills to analyze and evaluate positions.

I used evidence from a chapter in After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection by James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle to address the conditions of African Americans in America during slavery and just after the Civil War in my lesson plan.  My lesson plan includes a testimony about the conditions of slavery that is contrary to popular understanding.  This is to bring out the environmental effects and conditions that will affect a testimony’s validity and objectivity.  The discussion about this testimony and others will lead to a period of direct instruction were the conditions of slavery and its effect on human beings will be established.

EDU 6133- Presentation

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Instructional Strategies that Apply Directly to Social Studies and History Curriculum

By Matthew Kieswether

Approval Standard T3: Knowledge of teaching influenced by multiple teaching strategies.  This work attests to my proficiency in this standard because it proves that I know and understand a variety of instructional strategies that apply directly to my content area.  It also proves that I know how to best apply these strategies to my classes for the greatest possible benefit for my students.

Instructional strategies are created from beliefs and understandings about how the human mind works and what kind of activity or process best stimulates learning and understanding.  Each instructional strategy comes from a framework of educational theory and ideas called an Instructional Strategy Family and is categorized under the framework of ideas and understandings from which it was created.  Creators of Instructional Strategies will gravitate toward the Instructional Strategy family that best reflects their understanding and beliefs about how the human mind works.  Two Instructional strategy families are the Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models and the Behavioral Systems Family of Models (Joyce, 2009).  These two models best meet the needs of and are best aligned with the goals of a social studies or history curriculum.

The Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models is built upon the belief and perspective that education is best improved through instructional strategies that work to enhance the processing and storage of new information in learners.  These strategies are based on understandings about how the human mind takes in new information and stores it for future retrieval.  Lessons are built around tasks and procedures that present information in ways that best reflect that learning is mostly the processing and storing of new information.  Students are taught to organize information for better processing and better retention through structures, concepts, and through ways of understanding information (Joyce, 2009).

There are several instructional strategies that fall under the Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models.  The Inductive thinking instructional strategy suggests that some information is best learned in order from specific facts to more general concepts.  The idea is that studying specifics can be utilized to illuminate bigger ideas and higher order thinking (Scheuerman, 2011).  Inductive thinking closely aligns with a history or social studies curriculum because studying facts about events and people is often the task of students in a history or social studies class.   If teachers use the Inductive model, then studying history can become the task of studying dates and facts for the goal of forming an understanding about larger concepts and perspectives about ideas, people, and movements, which all have direct application to student understanding about life and how the world works.

The Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy is built on the idea that knowledge can be organized into categories and subcategories because of how the human mind organizes new information.  The human mind stores new concepts and understandings in different places based on where the information came from, what kind of information it is, what application the information has to larger understandings, etc.  If information is organized in a similar way for students to see and comprehend, then it will be easier for students to process and store large amounts of information (Scheuerman 2011).  Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy closely aligns with a social studies or history curriculum because it allows history to be organized into time periods and historical movements of interest and importance.  Dates and facts about history may have no long term retention value of their own for students but will be retained if they are an important foundation for a larger understanding of historical significance.

The Scientific Inquiry Instructional Strategy is based on the idea that students will better retain an understanding of a topic or subject if they are asked to go through the process of discovering the significance of a subject, reasons for a condition, or a solution to a problem on their own initiative and through their own mental process (Scheuerman, 2011).  This instructional strategy directly applies to when students are asked to do projects on their own or with a group about a subject for a history or a social studies class.  Students will retain the information from a unit for a longer period of time because they had to discover the information on their own and because of all the mental reasoning and processes that went into completing the project.

The Advance Organizers Instructional Strategy states that students will better learn information if they are given a framework of understanding before the lesson to gauge information’s importance and relevance to the larger curriculum and expectations.  If students at the beginning of a unit are told what the unit will be about, what they will be learning, what the individual lessons will be about, and what they should be looking for in each lesson (etc.), then they will be better prepared to understand information’s significance when it is taught and will better retain it (Scheuerman, 2011).  This instructional strategy will prepare students in a history or social studies class to see the larger picture of how individual facts about a specific time and place relate to the larger concepts and movements of that period of history.  Students are then prepped to see where information fits in its significance to the larger understandings that the teacher is trying to get across about history.

The Behavioral Systems Family of Models is based on the concept that information and abilities are best learned by doing.  Instructional strategies are set up so that teachers take students through tasks or processes to establish understanding and comprehension.  The defining feature of instructional strategies in the Behavioral Systems Family of Models is that they assume that the process itself will bring about understanding.  The Behavioral Systems Family of Models is based on the psychology that human beings are the products of their behavior, so good behaviors and correct processes modeled by students will bring about the best understanding and retention of new information (Joyce, 2009).

There are several Instructional Strategies that come from the Behavioral Systems Family of Models.  The Mastery Learning Instructional Strategy is based on Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking skills, who categorized thinking skills and abilities into levels from simple to complex.  This Instructional Strategy says that teachers should teach students about topics in a way that helps students develop the ability to move from lower level thinking skills to higher cognitive processes (Scheuerman, 2011).  If done correctly, this strategy will not only help students establish their own abilities and levels of thinking, but will also help students become inspired about subject matter and learning.  The Master Learning Instructional Strategy aligns with history and social studies curriculum goals.  If used in the history or social studies classroom, it can be utilized to help students move from facts and dates to larger understandings about the human condition through the lessons that have been learned by people throughout history.

Direct Instruction is the most common instructional strategy and is often criticized as being less effective than other strategies.  The Direct Instruction Instructional Strategy states that students are best taught through listening to lectures about the subject and through assessment routines that check for understanding.  Direct Instruction has a distinct academic focus and the materials selected to compliment Direct Instruction focus directly on subject matter and curriculum goals and standards.  The assessment routines used in conjunction with Direct Instruction are formed to gauge student achievement and to increase student ability through immediate correction.  Direct Instruction Instructional strategy also includes allotted time for multiple student practice sessions for the development of ability (Scheuerman, 2011).  The Direct Instruction Instructional Strategy aligns with social studies and history curriculums because of the amount of material about history that must be taught directly to the students.  In contrast to other subjects where a discovery strategy might be more of an effective base for the curriculum, history and social studies classes require that students take in a lot of information about the past that they could not discover quickly enough on their own.  If a teacher intends to cover a great amount of material within a history or social studies class, they must establish a curriculum where students are asked to note the important details of a historical period during a lecture, and then practice taking notes on historical significance with their textbook at home.  Direct instruction should not be the only instructional strategy that is used in a history class, but it can be effective to communicate large amounts of information about history.

The Simulation Instructional Strategy suggests that students can learn through simulating real-world tasks or experiences.  Simulations are guided activities that allow students to simulate ideas, events, and problem solving processes (Scheuerman, 2011).  The concept behind the Simulation Instructional Strategy is that having students act out or simulate experiences allows students to develop abilities and to understand motivations for actions from a clearer perspective.  The Simulation Instructional Strategy is based on the understanding that practicing behaviors allows students to understand concepts and develop abilities.  For history and social studies curriculums, the Simulation Instructional Strategy can be used to help students understand the perspective of people in history and the importance and relevance of topics and issues.  Students can take sides in debates that took place in history or can re-enact experiences of specific significance.  Allowing students to act out pieces of history gives students experiences that illuminate the thoughts and feelings of individuals in history.  Giving students the opportunity to see things from a different point of view helps students grow in their development of seeing history from multiple understandings.

The Social Learning Instructional Strategy seeks to help students establish principles of self-concept (personal value), self-efficacy (personal beliefs in one’s ability), and self-regulation (proactive efforts to mobilize effort and determine progress).   It is built on the perception if good behaviors are modeled by the teacher then students will imitate the teacher and develop an understanding of good habits and practices.  If teachers model the behavior and attitude that they want to see from their students, their students will react to that stimulus by changing their attitude and behaviors accordingly.  In this way, the teacher can help students be responsible for what is required of them and will help them see how to successfully communicate with others in the modern world.  This strategy fights against the influence of the social media, where kids are taught that inappropriate behaviors or practices are desirable and profitable in society.  The Social Learning Strategy seeks to educate students on how to be successful in society, mostly through appropriate modeling of the teacher.  This strategy also suggests that teachers pursue using as many appropriate models as possible in the classroom as well as helping students see the consequences for reprehensible conduct (Scheuerman, 2011).  This Instructional Strategy is useful in helping improve conduct in any classroom but is helpful to social studies and history curriculums specifically because it aims to meet one of the fundamental goals of teaching history: helping students understand the lessons of history so that they and tomorrow’s society might benefit.  The reason that history is taught in schools is because the lessons to be learned from it affect the conduct of today’s citizen.  The Social Learning Instructional Strategy seeks to help students become better citizens by helping them see the consequences of their actions, often through historical examples.  The Social Learning Instructional Strategy fits into a social studies or history curriculum by helping students understand that lessons from history have modern day applications.  By helping students see the importance of behavioral conduct and its effects on quality of life, this strategy helps students start the life process of analyzing new information for its application to personal attitude, perspective, and actions.

Instructional strategies help teachers adapt curriculums to meet the needs of student understanding and processing.  Each instructional strategy comes out of a larger family of instructional strategies that hold to a specific understanding and belief about how education can best be modified for student benefit.  Two instructional strategy families that directly relate to social studies and history curriculums are the Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models and the Behavioral Systems Family of Models (Joyce, 2009).  The Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models includes The Inductive Thinking Instructional Strategy, The Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy, The Scientific Inquiry Instructional Strategy, and the Advance Organizers Instructional Strategy.  The Behavioral Systems Models includes The Mastery Learning Instructional Strategy, The Direct Instruction Instructional Strategy, The Simulation Instructional Strategy, and The Social Learning Instructional Strategy.


Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching. (8th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Seattle Pacific University

Graduate Program, Seattle, WA.  Lectures 1-9.

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Class curriculums are effective or ineffective depending on the specific instructional strategies that are selected to enhance it.  Course content can be stale and boring or it can be fun and inspiring depending on what the teacher does to make the topic engaging and relevant.  The use of one instructional strategy or a few can make education and learning laborious and uninteresting.  Teachers should use as many instructional strategies as possible and should use those strategies when it fits the information and task to inspire learning and comprehension.

The most successful curriculum includes as many various instructional strategies as possible.  The effective teacher understands the multiple intelligences theory of Howard Gardiner and its applications and seeks to instruct students about the topic at hand in as many ways as possible.  Not only do they pursue including many different mediums of communicating content, but they also are informed on multiple strategies of organizing lessons.  Effective teachers vary direct instruction with cooperative learning in group activities, positive self-instruction and self analysis with nondirective teaching, discussing distinct facts that illuminate larger concepts with Inductive learning, analyzing subjects and topics for relevance and importance with Identifying Similarities and Differences, allowing student directed analysis and problem solving with Generating and Testing Hypotheses, etc.  Variable teaching strategies allow students to understand and know information in different ways and the information storage process is enhanced and solidified.

Instructional strategies should be used to fit the educational needs of students. Student understanding of content is dependent on how the information should be processed and comprehended.  Specific understandings require specific intellectual tasks that are brought about through specific instructional strategies.  Instructional strategies should fit the information that needs to be learned.  For example, Direct Instruction can be effective if the information to be processed requires that the students see and comprehend the task to be completed first, to be followed by individual and group practice.  The best example of Direct Instruction used effectively is in math, where how to solve a problem is modeled first by the teacher and then practiced by the students to establish their own ability.  Other examples of instructional strategies that fit the information to be processed is dividing historical periods into sections and concepts for processing and retention in history class, using a process of scientific analysis and inquiry to understand a compound’s chemical makeup in a science class, or using synthetics to encourage creative thought in art class.  Other instructional strategies are developed to address student emotional and behavioral development as well as the most productive class and group interaction and discussion.  Each teacher should understand the purpose and goal of each instructional strategy so that they can be used to the greatest effect.

The ultimate goal of teaching should be to inspire students with a desire to engage the learning process that will take place throughout the rest of their lives.  Unfortunately, today’s students are not often motivated to take ownership of their education.  Varying instructional strategies have the power to make information understandable, dynamic, and relevant, and to make learning fun and exciting.  The knowledge gained through various instructional strategies in class will lay the foundation for future understanding when the knowledge gained through education will become necessary for quality of life.  Teachers should use as many different instructional strategies in their class as possible and should only use instructional strategies when they fit the needs of students for understanding content.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., Polluck, J. E. (2001).  Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement.  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching. (8th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Seattle Pacific University Graduate Program, Seattle, WA.  Lectures 1-9.

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Lack of student motivation is an increasingly large obstacle to student learning and achievement with every new generation.  Instructional strategies identify student feelings and emotions as being at the heart of poor student achievement.  How a student feels about themselves and the work that they do can have detrimental effects to their performance.  In order to increase student motivation, the authors of these instructional strategies argue, the curriculum must be altered to reflect student interest and needs and must contain either symbolic or tangible rewards for student improvement.  The problem with this hypothesis is, however, that neither of these two factors guarantees student achievement.

Lack of student motivation for achievement is constructed from social, family, and individual factors.  A majority of today’s students face a world and a society where most if not all of their physical needs are met.  In most upper and middle class families, kids aren’t in want for the technology and fashionable items that they desire, which is a clear indicator of a wealthy society.  This lack of want is the foundation for a lack of motivation.  If all of their needs are met, what is the motivation for students to work hard to achieve in school or to leave their parent’s home and financial resources after they turn 18?  The presence of rewards will not inspire students to engage in the sometimes painful activity that is working to achieve a goal or goals, and giving students the ability to choose their own curriculum will only allow students to continue in their lack of motivation.  (This analysis does not apply to the growing number of students who face tough economic situations and rough family lives and surroundings.  Their needs are more properly met by a curriculum that addresses their specific needs and adversities.)

The answer to inspiring student achievement, especially at the high school level, is helping them establish an understanding of the importance of their education.  Students need to understand why they are learning specific information in class.  Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences identifies how some students can be intrinsically motivated toward achievement in some subjects and understandings and at the same time not motivated in others.  For this reason, teaching students material assuming that they will catch the application and importance will only lead to students questioning why they are in school in the first place.  High school students need to see the larger perspective of their position as a future member of society and as someone who will need to provide for themselves and others in the future.  This understanding should lead to student motivation to understand for themselves what their strengths are and what kinds of fields they will be most successful in in the future.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 8 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Polluck, J. E. (2001).  Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement.  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s book The Disuniting of America, Reflections on a Multicultural Society is a defense of the majority white perspective against the beliefs and world view of Multiculturalism.  Schlesinger argues that the United States is a body of people, being made of multiple backgrounds and cultures but consisting of one identity as Americans.  He argues that Multiculturalism is not a movement to empower the individual but rather to divide the nation into groups constantly set against each other.

Schlesinger writes at length about the history of racism in the United States.  He establishes the history behind the perception of Americans being one people out of many (“E Pluribus Unum”) constructing his argument from the perspective of the founding fathers and from writers who wrote about their hope for what America would become.  He then describes the rise of the movement for racial identity, which he argues is a weapon to divide the American culture.  His argument is that where once racial identity was second to individualism and personal freedom, now racial identity has become the focus of an individual’s identity.  He continues by pointing out that schools have been forced to take a perspective that lessens the importance of Western History in favor of multicultural perspectives.   He claims this is unfair to the western perspective because of its impact on the United States and its identity and beliefs as a nation.  Schlesinger elevates the idea of the ‘melting pot’ as the basis of the United States culture and argues that unity as Americans is the best hope for America’s future.

The book read like a heated defense of Western perceptions and values and he often didn’t attempt to reconcile his perspective to the perspective of the multicultural community.  I can’t say that I disagree with his main point, however, that Americans should be united as one people.  His perception of the dangerousness of division is insightful and brings up very good questions: how will elevating our differences affect how we work together as a community?  Shouldn’t we be working to share our commonalities instead of dividing ourselves against each other?

I found the book to be very insightful at times, with a clear strong message, but also blunt and somewhat un-reaching.   Schlesinger with this book clearly wants to bring home the principle of unity as Americans and the importance of Western culture’s influence on American History.  I felt at sections, though, that his argument is merely beating around the bush of a larger issue.  His defense of western perceptions of life and liberty can only go so far to convince the public of its rightness and necessity in our society.  What Schlesinger needs to convince his audience of is a need for a foundation of understanding that establishes the importance of principles like individual freedom, unity as a people, common purpose and perspective, and the drive to make changes as a society to better everyone.

Schlesinger, A. M. (1998) The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society.  New

York: W. W. Norton and Company.

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