Can history teachers apply Design Thinking ideas to a subject often taught as a progression of facts? Jody Passanisi thinks so. “What could be more relevant than looking for solutions to challenges that were created in the past and are still having impact today?”
Author: Jody & Shara
Jody Passanisi, an eighth grade teacher and author of “History Class Revisited,” uses a three-step scaffolding process to help students raise their awareness between events currently taking place and the historical events they study in the social studies curriculum.
Today’s history students need to include evaluation, analysis, and synthesis in writing assignments, going well beyond the traditional reporting of facts. Shara Peters and Jody Passanisi share their methods for helping students improve their writing skills.
Project-based learning in history class can be challenging as teachers juggle a content-laden curriculum and limited class time. Shara and Jody and their tech colleague Doug Hinko set out to find practical ways to make PBL work with a unit on medieval China.
When U.S. history teachers Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters celebrate Presidents’ Day, all 43 presidents are featured. Eighth graders research and assume the identity of an assigned president, then campaign in costume for reelection among 6th & 7th grade “voters.”
A struggling student’s recent exclamation that she UNDERSTOOD a history lesson confirmed to Shara Peters that her new school’s grading policy improves teaching and student achievement by shifting the emphasis from earning a higher grade to achieving mastery.
“I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot,” sings Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway show on his part in American history. Jody Passanisi & Shara Peters are enthusiastically sharing “Hamilton” with their 8th graders.
Song parodies can help students in history class create connections for themselves as they write their own lyrics about important events. As it turns out, writing songs in groups can also invoke 8th grade social machinations, teacher Jody Passanisi reports.
In earlier years Jody Passanisi provided sources to her 8th grade history students. More recently, as they look to the Internet for information, she finds they need to understand not only how to cite sources they uncover but also why they need to credit ideas.
If you could design your ideal social studies curriculum for middle school, what would it look like? After surveying area high schools, Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters decide to focus on skills development. Here’s their draft scope & sequence for grades 6-8.