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Instructional Focus Document
Grade 8 Social Studies
TITLE : Unit 01: Thinking Like a Historian SUGGESTED DURATION : 5 days

Unit Overview

Introduction

This unit bundles student expectations that relate to the critical thinking skills associated with historical inquiry. A rigorous study of history requires that students employ strategies for the close reading of historical sources, both primary and secondary. Mastery of the skills used by historians is necessary for students to become resourceful consumers of information readily and abundantly available in twenty-first century society.

In 2016 the Stanford History Education Group analyzed over 7,804 student responses to a series of exercises related to examining information on the internet.  The researchers found that students in middle school, high school, and college lacked the ability to reason about information. Students were unable to distinguish ads from new stories, corroborate information, evaluate claims, or judge the reliability of a source. These findings substantiate the importance of the critical thinking skills students practice in this unit and continue to develop throughout the course.

Prior to this Unit

In Grade 4 students began developing compelling questions and examining sources as an initial introduction to the critical thinking skills of historical inquiry. In Grade 6 students built on this process to include synthesizing information from sources to generate a conclusion and were introduced to the use of proper citations. In Grade 7 students continued developing the critical thinking skills of historical inquiry. Specifically in Grade 7 students created compelling questions, and examined sources by utilizing sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading. Ultimately students synthesized the information they gather through historical research to craft an argument supported by evidence.

During this Unit

During this unit students review and practice the skills utilized by historians, most specifically sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading of sources.

Additional Notes

Given the nature of the unit - thinking like of a historian - students are best served by practicing the skills embedded in the performance assessments and performance tasks. A multiple choice test may not be wholly appropriate for assessing the kind of skills student should be demonstrating. Consequently, there are few to no items in the item bank for this unit.

After this Unit

Throughout the Grade 8 social studies curriculum, students continue to practice critical thinking skills by employing the inquiry process in the context of unit content. In subsequent grades, students continue to refine their critical thinking skills associated with historical inquiry. It is recommended that teachers consult the Thinking Like a Historian resource for additional information along with a social studies skills matrix for viewing the vertical progression of skills attainment in the social studies curriculum. In the next unit students inquire about the exploration and colonization of North America.

Research

Wineburg, Sam and McGrew, Sarah and Breakstone, Joel and Ortega, Teresa. (2016). Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning. Stanford Digital Repository. http://purl.stanford.edu/fv751yt5934.


Historical inquiry is a continuous process of analyzing multiple sources and reconciling multiple points of view in order to construct a tentative interpretation of the past.

  • What methods are used to craft a narrative of the past?

Historians use interpretations of the past to determine change and continuity of political, economic, and social patterns as well as to infer cause-effect relationships.

  • What is the task of the historian?

Historians, geographers, and social scientists conduct research by creating compelling questions; evaluating sources; gathering, analyzing, and synthesizing information; and communicating conclusions supported by evidence.

  • How do historians, geographers, and social scientists conduct credible research?
Unit Understandings
and Questions
Overarching Concepts
and Unit Concepts
Performance Assessment(s)

Historians conduct research by creating compelling questions; evaluating sources; gathering, analyzing, and synthesizing information; and communicating conclusions.

  • How do historians conduct credible research?
  • What is characteristic of a good compelling question?
  • What type of information does an historian gather when sourcing a document? 
  • Why is it important for an historian to consider the historical context of when a document was produced?
  • How does comparing sources facilitate an historian’s evaluation of sources?
  • What factors influence the point of view of an author of a document/source?

Social Studies Skills

  • Develop Questions
  • Acquire information through research and analysis
Assessment information provided within the TEKS Resource System are examples that may, or may not, be used by your child’s teacher. In accordance with section 26.006 (2) of the Texas Education Code, "A parent is entitled to review each test administered to the parent’s child after the test is administered." For more information regarding assessments administered to your child, please visit with your child’s teacher.

MISCONCEPTIONS / UNDERDEVELOPED CONCEPTS

  • Students may think that the existence of bias in a source negates it as relevant or informative. Students should understand that all sources contain bias and that historical inquiry requires the examination of historical context or frame of reference to account for that bias.

Unit Vocabulary

primary source – first-hand accounts of an event created by eyewitnesses or first recorders at the time of the event
secondary source -  accounts of events created at a later date and by someone who was not present at the event
sourcing – examining the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why” of a document
contextualizing – taking into consideration how the author was influenced by when and where the document was produced
corroboration – comparing different sources in order to 1) gain a more accurate account of the past, 2) evaluate the validity of a source, and/or 3) consider multiple perspectives
close reading – Critically examining significant details and language patterns of a text in order to develop a deep understanding of the author’s claims or point of view
point of view – an opinion or perspective presented by the author of a document, influenced by the author’s personal circumstances
frame of reference – the personal attributes and life experiences of an author that may have influenced his/her point of view
historical context – the circumstances of the time in which an event occurred or in which an author lived that may have influenced his/her point of view

Related Vocabulary

  • inquiry
  • interpretation
  • thesis statement
  • periodization
Unit Assessment Items System Resources

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Unit Assessment Items that have been published by your district may be accessed through Search All Components in the District Resources tab. Assessment items may also be found using the Assessment Creator if your district has granted access to that tool.

System Resources may be accessed through Search All Components in the District Resources Tab.


TEKS# SE# Unit Level Taught Directly TEKS Unit Level Specificity
 

Legend:

  • Knowledge and Skills Statements (TEKS) identified by TEA are in italicized, bolded, black text.
  • Student Expectations (TEKS) identified by TEA are in bolded, black text.
  • Student Expectations (TEKS) are labeled Process standards as identified by TEA of the assessed curriculum.
  • Portions of the Student Expectations (TEKS) that are not included in this unit but are taught in previous or future units are indicated by a strike-through.

Legend:

  • Supporting information / clarifications (specificity) written by TEKS Resource System are in blue text.
New8.29 The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired through established research methodologies from a variety of valid sources, including technology. The student is expected to:
New8.29A Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about the United States.
Process Standard

Differentiate, Locate, Use

VALID PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES

Including, but not limited to:

  • Media and news services
  • Biographies
  • Interviews
  • Artifacts
STAAR Note:
These skills will be incorporated into STAAR test questions from reporting categories 1-4 and will be identified along with content standards.
New8.29B Analyze information by applying absolute and relative chronology through sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions.
Process Standard

Analyze

INFORMATION BY USING A VARIETY OF SKILLS

Including, but not limited to:

  • Sequencing refers to the practice of arranging items in a specific order. Most commonly in social studies this is done with events either sequenced by absolute chronology or exact date of by relative chronology or placing events in chronological order without necessarily identifying exact dates
  • Categorizing refers to the practice of placing items in particular groups.
  • Identifying cause-and-effect relationships is a common skill applied in historical analysis to examine change over time.
  • Comparing and contrasting refers to examination of similarities and differences.
  • Finding the main idea is a literacy skill applied to the examination most often of textual and visual sources.
  • Summarizing is a literacy skill utilized to condense information to a concise version.
  • Making generalizations and predictions is facilitated by the examination of patterns. Generalizations are general statements that should be based on the evidence presented by patterns and predictions can be made based on that pattern.
  • Drawing inferences and conclusions results from examining evidence and articulating interpretations of that evidence.
New8.29C Organize and interpret information from outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps.
Process Standard

Organize, Interpret

INFORMATION

Including, but not limited to:

  •   Outlines
  •   Reports
  •   Databases
  •   Visuals
  •   Graphs
  •   Charts
  •   Timelines
  •   Maps

STAAR Note:
These skills will be incorporated into STAAR test questions from reporting categories 1-4 and will be identified along with content standards.

New8.29D Identify bias and points of view created by the historical context surrounding an event.
Process Standard

Identify

BIAS AND POINTS OF VIEW FROM THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT SURROUNDING AN EVENT

Including, but not limited to:

  • Bias refers to a favoritism towards one way of thinking. All individuals exhibit bias, of which they may or may not be consciously aware.
  • Point of view refers to the historical perspective, claim, or attitude an individual expresses in a document.
  • Historical context refers to how the time period in which the individual lived influences his/her perspective or attitudes.
New8.29E Support a point of view on a social studies issue or event.
Process Standard

Support

POINT OF VIEW ON A SOCIAL STUDIES ISSUE OR EVENT

STAAR Note:
These skills will be incorporated into STAAR test questions from reporting categories 1-4 and will be identified along with content standards.

New8.29F Evaluate the validity of a source based on corroboration with other sources and information about the author.

Evaluate

THE VALIDITY OF A SOURCE

Including, but not limited to:

  • Corroboration with other sources provides information about what aspects of the source are similar to or different from other sources.
  • Information about the author is needed to evaluate the credibility and expertise of the author as well as to examine how historical context or life experiences has influenced the perspective of the author.
New8.30 The student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is expected to:
New8.30A Use social studies terminology correctly.
Process Standard

Use

SOCIAL STUDIES TERMINOLOGY

STAAR Note:
These skills will be incorporated into STAAR test questions from reporting categories 1-4 and will be identified along with content standards.

New8.30B Use effective written communication skills, including proper citations and avoiding plagiarism.

Use

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Including, but not limited to:

  • Correct grammar and punctuation
  • Accurate spelling
  • Clear diction and sentence structure
  • Proper citations to avoid plagiarism
New8.30C Create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information.

Create

PRESENTATIONS OF SOCIAL STUDIES INFORMATION

Including, but not limited to:

  • Journal entries
  • Reports
  • Graphic organizers
  • Outlines
  • Bibliographies
  • Document based essays
TEKS# SE# Unit Level Developing TEKS Unit Level Specificity
 

Legend:

  • Knowledge and Skills Statements (TEKS) identified by TEA are in italicized, bolded, black text.
  • Student Expectations (TEKS) identified by TEA are in bolded, black text.
  • Student Expectations (TEKS) are labeled Process standards as identified by TEA of the assessed curriculum.
  • Portions of the Student Expectations (TEKS) that are not included in this unit but are taught in previous or future units are indicated by a strike-through.

Legend:

  • Supporting information / clarifications (specificity) written by TEKS Resource System are in blue text.
New8.29 The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired through established research methodologies from a variety of valid sources, including technology. The student is expected to:
New8.29G Create a visual representation of historical information such as thematic maps, graphs, and charts representing various aspects of the United States.

Create

VISUAL REPRESENTATION OF HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Including, but not limited to:

  • Thematic maps
  • Graphs
  • Charts
New8.29H Pose and answer questions about geographic distributions and patterns shown on maps, graphs, and charts.
Process Standard

Pose, Answer

QUESTIONS ABOUT GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTIONS AND PATTERNS

STAAR Note.
These skills will be incorporated into STAAR test questions from reporting categories 1-4 and will be identified along with content standards.

New8.31 The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and with others. The student is expected to:
New8.31A Use problem-solving and decision-making processes to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

Use

PROBLEM-SOLVING AND DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES

Including, but not limited to:

  • Identify a problem
  • Gather information
  • List and consider options
  • Consider advantages and disadvantages
  • Choose and implement a solution
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the solution
The English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS), as required by 19 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 74, Subchapter A, §74.4, outline English language proficiency level descriptors and student expectations for English language learners (ELLs). School districts are required to implement ELPS as an integral part of each subject in the required curriculum.

School districts shall provide instruction in the knowledge and skills of the foundation and enrichment curriculum in a manner that is linguistically accommodated commensurate with the student’s levels of English language proficiency to ensure that the student learns the knowledge and skills in the required curriculum.


School districts shall provide content-based instruction including the cross-curricular second language acquisition essential knowledge and skills in subsection (c) of the ELPS in a manner that is linguistically accommodated to help the student acquire English language proficiency.

http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter074/ch074a.html#74.4 


Choose appropriate ELPS to support instruction.

ELPS# Subsection C: Cross-curricular second language acquisition essential knowledge and skills.
Click here to collapse or expand this section.
ELPS.c.1 The ELL uses language learning strategies to develop an awareness of his or her own learning processes in all content areas. In order for the ELL to meet grade-level learning expectations across the foundation and enrichment curriculum, all instruction delivered in English must be linguistically accommodated (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with the student's level of English language proficiency. The student is expected to:
ELPS.c.1A use prior knowledge and experiences to understand meanings in English
ELPS.c.1B monitor oral and written language production and employ self-corrective techniques or other resources
ELPS.c.1C use strategic learning techniques such as concept mapping, drawing, memorizing, comparing, contrasting, and reviewing to acquire basic and grade-level vocabulary
ELPS.c.1D speak using learning strategies such as requesting assistance, employing non-verbal cues, and using synonyms and circumlocution (conveying ideas by defining or describing when exact English words are not known)
ELPS.c.1E internalize new basic and academic language by using and reusing it in meaningful ways in speaking and writing activities that build concept and language attainment
ELPS.c.1F use accessible language and learn new and essential language in the process
ELPS.c.1G demonstrate an increasing ability to distinguish between formal and informal English and an increasing knowledge of when to use each one commensurate with grade-level learning expectations
ELPS.c.1H develop and expand repertoire of learning strategies such as reasoning inductively or deductively, looking for patterns in language, and analyzing sayings and expressions commensurate with grade-level learning expectations.
ELPS.c.2 The ELL listens to a variety of speakers including teachers, peers, and electronic media to gain an increasing level of comprehension of newly acquired language in all content areas. ELLs may be at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high stage of English language acquisition in listening. In order for the ELL to meet grade-level learning expectations across the foundation and enrichment curriculum, all instruction delivered in English must be linguistically accommodated (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with the student's level of English language proficiency. The student is expected to:
ELPS.c.2A distinguish sounds and intonation patterns of English with increasing ease
ELPS.c.2B recognize elements of the English sound system in newly acquired vocabulary such as long and short vowels, silent letters, and consonant clusters
ELPS.c.2C learn new language structures, expressions, and basic and academic vocabulary heard during classroom instruction and interactions
ELPS.c.2D monitor understanding of spoken language during classroom instruction and interactions and seek clarification as needed
ELPS.c.2E use visual, contextual, and linguistic support to enhance and confirm understanding of increasingly complex and elaborated spoken language
ELPS.c.2F listen to and derive meaning from a variety of media such as audio tape, video, DVD, and CD ROM to build and reinforce concept and language attainment
ELPS.c.2G understand the general meaning, main points, and important details of spoken language ranging from situations in which topics, language, and contexts are familiar to unfamiliar
ELPS.c.2H understand implicit ideas and information in increasingly complex spoken language commensurate with grade-level learning expectations
ELPS.c.2I demonstrate listening comprehension of increasingly complex spoken English by following directions, retelling or summarizing spoken messages, responding to questions and requests, collaborating with peers, and taking notes commensurate with content and grade-level needs.
ELPS.c.3 The ELL speaks in a variety of modes for a variety of purposes with an awareness of different language registers (formal/informal) using vocabulary with increasing fluency and accuracy in language arts and all content areas. ELLs may be at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high stage of English language acquisition in speaking. In order for the ELL to meet grade-level learning expectations across the foundation and enrichment curriculum, all instruction delivered in English must be linguistically accommodated (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with the student's level of English language proficiency. The student is expected to:
ELPS.c.3A practice producing sounds of newly acquired vocabulary such as long and short vowels, silent letters, and consonant clusters to pronounce English words in a manner that is increasingly comprehensible
ELPS.c.3B expand and internalize initial English vocabulary by learning and using high-frequency English words necessary for identifying and describing people, places, and objects, by retelling simple stories and basic information represented or supported by pictures, and by learning and using routine language needed for classroom communication
ELPS.c.3C speak using a variety of grammatical structures, sentence lengths, sentence types, and connecting words with increasing accuracy and ease as more English is acquired
ELPS.c.3D speak using grade-level content area vocabulary in context to internalize new English words and build academic language proficiency
ELPS.c.3E share information in cooperative learning interactions
ELPS.c.3F ask and give information ranging from using a very limited bank of high-frequency, high-need, concrete vocabulary, including key words and expressions needed for basic communication in academic and social contexts, to using abstract and content-based vocabulary during extended speaking assignments
ELPS.c.3G express opinions, ideas, and feelings ranging from communicating single words and short phrases to participating in extended discussions on a variety of social and grade-appropriate academic topics
ELPS.c.3H narrate, describe, and explain with increasing specificity and detail as more English is acquired
ELPS.c.3I adapt spoken language appropriately for formal and informal purposes
ELPS.c.3J respond orally to information presented in a wide variety of print, electronic, audio, and visual media to build and reinforce concept and language attainment.
ELPS.c.4 The ELL reads a variety of texts for a variety of purposes with an increasing level of comprehension in all content areas. ELLs may be at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high stage of English language acquisition in reading. In order for the ELL to meet grade-level learning expectations across the foundation and enrichment curriculum, all instruction delivered in English must be linguistically accommodated (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with the student's level of English language proficiency. For Kindergarten and Grade 1, certain of these student expectations apply to text read aloud for students not yet at the stage of decoding written text. The student is expected to:
ELPS.c.4A learn relationships between sounds and letters of the English language and decode (sound out) words using a combination of skills such as recognizing sound-letter relationships and identifying cognates, affixes, roots, and base words
ELPS.c.4B recognize directionality of English reading such as left to right and top to bottom
ELPS.c.4C develop basic sight vocabulary, derive meaning of environmental print, and comprehend English vocabulary and language structures used routinely in written classroom materials
ELPS.c.4D use prereading supports such as graphic organizers, illustrations, and pretaught topic-related vocabulary and other prereading activities to enhance comprehension of written text
ELPS.c.4E read linguistically accommodated content area material with a decreasing need for linguistic accommodations as more English is learned
ELPS.c.4F use visual and contextual support and support from peers and teachers to read grade-appropriate content area text, enhance and confirm understanding, and develop vocabulary, grasp of language structures, and background knowledge needed to comprehend increasingly challenging language
ELPS.c.4G demonstrate comprehension of increasingly complex English by participating in shared reading, retelling or summarizing material, responding to questions, and taking notes commensurate with content area and grade level needs
ELPS.c.4H read silently with increasing ease and comprehension for longer periods
ELPS.c.4I demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing basic reading skills such as demonstrating understanding of supporting ideas and details in text and graphic sources, summarizing text, and distinguishing main ideas from details commensurate with content area needs
ELPS.c.4J demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing inferential skills such as predicting, making connections between ideas, drawing inferences and conclusions from text and graphic sources, and finding supporting text evidence commensurate with content area needs
ELPS.c.4K demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing analytical skills such as evaluating written information and performing critical analyses commensurate with content area and grade-level needs.
ELPS.c.5 The ELL writes in a variety of forms with increasing accuracy to effectively address a specific purpose and audience in all content areas. ELLs may be at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high stage of English language acquisition in writing. In order for the ELL to meet grade-level learning expectations across foundation and enrichment curriculum, all instruction delivered in English must be linguistically accommodated (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with the student's level of English language proficiency. For Kindergarten and Grade 1, certain of these student expectations do not apply until the student has reached the stage of generating original written text using a standard writing system. The student is expected to:
ELPS.c.5A learn relationships between sounds and letters of the English language to represent sounds when writing in English
ELPS.c.5B write using newly acquired basic vocabulary and content-based grade-level vocabulary
ELPS.c.5C spell familiar English words with increasing accuracy, and employ English spelling patterns and rules with increasing accuracy as more English is acquired
ELPS.c.5D edit writing for standard grammar and usage, including subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, and appropriate verb tenses commensurate with grade-level expectations as more English is acquired
ELPS.c.5E employ increasingly complex grammatical structures in content area writing commensurate with grade-level expectations, such as:
ELPS.c.5F write using a variety of grade-appropriate sentence lengths, patterns, and connecting words to combine phrases, clauses, and sentences in increasingly accurate ways as more English is acquired
ELPS.c.5G narrate, describe, and explain with increasing specificity and detail to fulfill content area writing needs as more English is acquired.
Last Updated 06/19/2019
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