Uploaded by Molly Kolb

Kolb Strategies Booklet (1)

Working Through History
Working Through History: Literacy Strategies for the Young Historian
Mary Kolb
Towson University
Four Corners
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In my classroom, we will use four corners whenever we come to a reading of a point in
history where a large decision needs to be made, or different views are argued. While that’s
almost all of history, the point of this is that the students will likely be using this strategy often,
which is good because it involves moving. In my classroom, there will be four corners labeled
“Strongly Agree”, “Agree”, “Disagree”, and “Strongly Disagree”. When we come to a point in
history where an appropriate reading or passage describes the historical decision, I will put an
opinion statement on the board (i.e. President Roosevelt should declare war with Germany at this
point in 1939). The students will then walk over to the category describing how they feel about
it. As the teacher, I will then give each group a minute to talk and elect their speaker, and they
will each tell me why they stood where they stood.
CC. 9-12.R.1 – Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical
inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support
conclusions drawn from the text.
● When the students stand and make their cases for why they are in the corner they are in,
they will need to cite the text and make a logical inference from it to show back up their
D2.His.9-10 Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by
circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
● I think the standard to evaluate historical events in their context is directly used in Four
Corners because when the students make their case for why they are standing where they
are, they will use evidence from the time (and hopefully evidence from after the historical
time) to determine whether something was agreeable or not.
I chose four corners because in history classes, it’s very important to use evidence to
defend your position, and it’s important to have opinions on historical events. For this reason, I
don’t have a “neutral” position. I feel like students would use this position as a way not to
participate, and even if I asked them to defend their neutral reason, I feel it’s important to have
students be able to defend either side. To modify it for my own classroom, where appropriate, we
will do this activity before and after the reading.
This activity includes students of diverse backgrounds and learning ability because they
get to voice their opinion in a low stakes private group but only need to present if they wish. It’s
a safe way to encourage engagement while not asking them to be graded on the spot. It also helps
determine where they are in their understanding of the learning. For gifted and talented students,
it also gives them a “failure free” opportunity to shine because what holds back a lot of students
who are gifted and talented is the fear of failure. These students can offer to present if it makes
them feel comfortable and in presenting their arguments, they can hopefully illuminate a
different side to the reading that the other students might not have thought about. This is a way
of learning coming from within the classroom instead of just me, the teacher, telling the students
what to think about everything they read. In short, it is a way for all the students to take
ownership of their learning.
Jigsaw reading
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This strategy is typically for longer readings. In a Jigsaw Reading, students are broken
into separate groups to each do a part of the reading. Afterwards, they teach the other groups the
content they just read. This can be an important method in a history class because certain things
only make sense in the context of the whole reading. For example, the legacies of colonization
only show if you understand which countries colonized which, and why borders were drawn
where they were (and by whom). Through this activity, each layer will be exposed as each group
presents their passage. At the end of the activity, I will ask the students to try to put the pieces of
the passage in order to make it unique to my classroom. This will build the skill of
contextualizing, which is important for any student of history.
CC. 9-12.R.2 – Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development;
summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
● The students will need to determine the central ideas of their passage so as to effectively
teach the passage to their fellow students and contextualize the pieces later when they are
asked to organize the passages.
CC. 9-12.R.5 – Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs,
and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other
and the whole.
● Through the course of this activity, students will discover how their passage relates to the
passages of the other groups, and will be able to learn things that may give their passage
It is important to my classroom to have students take ownership of their education. For
this reason, many of the strategies I want to employ and a lot of the set-up I will use in my
classroom will be student taught. While there are many things teachers learn in our respective
programs, we can’t fully grasp student language like current students can. Therefore, I see it as
my role (especially with reading content) to provide the content for the students and help them
learn through it themselves as more of a guide. Jigsaw fits into this very well because each
student has a part of the reading that they are responsible for, but they are also responsible for
respecting their fellow classmates’ learning and way of teaching. This will hopefully build a
stronger sense of community in the class.
To differentiate, I would use purposeful grouping so that the students who may have
learning disabilities or those who are English Language learners could either
a) Be grouped with students who could give them extra help with their assigned passage
b) Be grouped so that they have an easier passage to read be it through a different grade
level reading or through easier vocabulary for those students who are still learning
I would also differentiate on any assignments stemming from this activity so gifted and
talented students have the opportunity to explore their passage in more depth. Without giving
extra work, I would ask the students to elaborate on the activity and show a deeper context for
the reading as a whole after they had learned each piece. Then, I would have them group together
to teach each other different pieces than the ones they had taught before.
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Give one, get one
During Give One, Get One, students will practice engaging with their peers on opinions
and ideas in a respectful and intelligent way. For this to work, a set of standards needs to be
applied. First, tell your students to brainstorm after a reading on a topic and tell them they have
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to keep brainstorming until you tell them to stop, while writing down ideas and thoughts they
have on the passage. When you tell them to stop, give them a minute to pick two ideas of their
and spruce them up a bit so they are ready to present. Next, the students get up and walk around
to share their ideas. The set of standards should be set at the beginning of class that there are a
few sentence frames they can use to critique and discuss each other’s ideas. For example, having
up on the board these sentence starters:
Expressing an Opinion
“In my opinion…”
“I believe…”
Comparing Ideas
“I agree that…”
“My idea builds on ________'s idea in that…”
“Although ________ has a valid point, I
disagree. I believe that…”
“_____ stated that…”
“According to _____, ....”
(Lim 2009)
CC. 9-12.R.8 – Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including
the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
● The students would take specific claims in the text for this exercise to argue for or against
and will practice upholding their evaluation of the argument together.
CC. 9-12.R.2 – Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development;
summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
● The students will be able to determine the central ideas or themes from a text so they can
pick the most important “idea” for them to argue and build on in this exercise.
It’s important for my students to practice this activity because unemotional arguments
need a frame to start out. Giving students the tools to express themselves in a calm, thorough,
and academic way will not only set them up for further history class debates or discussions, but
will set them up in life when they feel the need to express themselves with pieces of information
that they have extrapolated from sources. However, this is an incredibly important tool for
historians because history comes with a lot of opinions with hindsight bias. Historians often
argue over which wars should have been waged (“should the U.S. have gone to war in Vietnam?
Why or why not?”) or which amendments should be ratified and they need an unemotional way
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of handling these debates with clear and civil language in both discussions and later in essays or
short response assessments.
This activity is good for diverse learners because it gives each person a start. This is a
low-stakes way of practicing a skill, and is particularly good for english language learners
because it gives them the words to start so they have a jumping off point. It can also be
accommodated for my classroom so that instead of sharing with everyone in class, the students
can be purposefully grouped with students at their own ability and background, so students with
learning disabilities won’t feel “less than” in an argument while students who are gifted and
talented will be able to perform to their highest standard with each other.
Think Aloud
While this is one of the more basic literacy strategies, and I will have a secondary level
classroom, I think the power of a think aloud activity is very relevant. In my version of a think
aloud, I have a smartboard in my classroom. I hand out the reading to each of my students which
I hope to do with primary sources from history and I go through the reading marking up places
where I may have a question or a thought that connects learning on the smartboard as I go. I will
say things out loud like, “Oh, I always think of freedom of speech when I see the first
amendment, but I sometimes forget about freedom of the press or freedom of religion. Let’s
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underline those!” I will use different colors and highlighters to mark up the reading, and I will
ask if anyone has anything they’d like to add to the smartboard copy that they have on their own
paper. At the end, we will print out the smartboard copy as a class.
CC. 9-12.R.6 – Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
● With primary sources, a think aloud will address the author and the date, wondering
aloud what side the person is on. Every time the text says something like “I” or anything
to do with time or the side of history they stand on (like “as a German soldier”), I the
teacher will emphasize this by questioning it in a think aloud without giving the answer
and annotating it with a question mark.
D2.Civ. 9-10 Evaluate core principles of government established by the founding
documents of the United States and apply them to real-world situations.
● As previously stated, this could be a great way to go through the founding documents and
ensure understanding for my students past the difficult vernacular. While highlighting
words they may not understand, I could also rephrase sentences that are difficult and
write my rephrasing in the margins.
This activity is important for a class of diverse learners of any age. It models innerdialogue while reading so as to show the importance of questioning every document and primary
source as biased. This is the primary rule for any historian because context means everything.
Giving them a frame for where to stop and question the author or the date that leads to a
conclusion is an invaluable skill not only for historians but also for modern news consumers.
Looking at authors of op-eds and looking for bias in media outlets is an important skill as the
country is still learning. This will also make them better readers in the content areas because
hopefully the modelling tells them to stop when they come to a word that they do not fully
understand and circle it so they can go back to it and look it up.
This activity is good for diverse learners because it combines visual learning, auditory
learning, and tactile learning. Students have a visual of where I’ve stopped in the text with the
mark-ups, they will have my voice narrating my thoughts, and they have the opportunity to come
up to the board and make their own annotations. This will be a place for students who are gifted
and talented to shine, as well as a place for students with learning disabilities or who are english
language learners to have a framework for thorough reading, without the demand for
Collaborative Annotation
By now, it’s already obvious that all of the literacy strategies I use are for the entire class
to work together. This is strategic. A classroom that is cohesive and forced to work with each
other will have more trust and collaboration, and it is a firm principle of mine that learning is
both personal and heavily collaborative. In collaborative annotation, students each have a
handout of the same reading. They take the appropriate amount of time relative to the reading
and set by the teacher to read it and annotate through it, then they pass it in a circle in small
groups. They do this as many times as there are students in the small group when the teacher
directs until it is done.
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RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary
sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
● While annotating, students will have been told to look for features such as date and bias
of information and circle areas they think may lead themselves to bias. They can also
comment or question in the margins to decipher.
RH.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of word, and phrases, as they are used in a text,
including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social
Students are allowed a highlighter and pen to circle any word they’d like to come back to
in the text and they are allowed to make educated guesses on any words and or
phrases. Because they pass the reading around, other students can make educated
guesses or even fact driven answers to another student’s question, but they will all be
asked to be anonymous.
This would work in a history context because students learn to skeptically look at details
like the author, their political party, their point of view, and when the piece was written. It also
helps because it allows students not to know everything at the start of the lesson, but to help each
other learn through questioning and throwing your own ideas out there. That way, students can
teach each other and feel a larger ownership of their learning, which is very motivational and
engaging for them. To make it my own, I would have student turn in an exit ticket with three
questions they have left on their copy after they get it back on the last round and what they think
the answer to those questions are. This gives students the opportunity to be wrong without
negative consequences on their grade, which encourages them to try more.
This activity is good for diverse learners because it anonymously allows students to
question and comment to their peers and see that their peers are also questioning and
commenting. For english language learners, I would try to group them together so they could
maybe get a reprieve and write to each other in their first language if they’d like to (or not, it’s
up to them). For students with learning disabilities who may not read as quickly, they will be
directed to read a section each round and annotate that section and we will go until they have had
time to read the entire passage. For gifted students, they will be able to answer questions other
students may have, but they will also be able to give their own insights and ideas and questions
that could help other students.
Gjoni, K. (2019). Using reading and writing in the secondary school. Lecture. Towson
Lim, J. (2009, November 22). Give One, Get One: Engaging Difficult to Reach Students.
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Teaching And Learning: Social Studies. (n.d.). Retrieved from
ationsOfGovernment/#/Unit Overview