January 5, 2018: 32 New SHEG Civic Literacy Teaching Tools

We all love the Stanford History Education Group. What’s not to like? You get incredible lessons aligned to the NCSS C3 standards. And for us Kansas folks, they aligned perfectly to our state standards. They great for training kids to use evidence, think historically, and develop arguments with evidence.

You get powerful assessments that they call HATs – historical assessments of thinking. Short and sweet, easy to use, summative and formative assessments that help you measure a student’s ability to use evidence, think historically, and develop arguments with evidence.

Yup. The two go hand in glove. Tools for teaching and tools for assessing social studies process skills.

And if you’re not using these two free tools . . . might I suggest you head over and take a look? Cause your brain is about to be blown. Seriously. This is a non-negotiable tool that every history teacher should be using. Cause even if you don’t use their lessons, they’re great as models for your own lessons. And be sure to steal all of their modified primary sources.

So we’ve got super awesome lessons, assessments, lesson support all coordinated by Sam Wineburg – historical thinking guru and all around history teaching genius.

But SHEG just got better.

Yup. Better.

Back a few weeks ago in November, SHEG updated their website so everything is easier to find. And wait for it . . . they added a brand new section.

As part of their upgrade and based on several years of Wineburg’s research, SHEG added 32 lessons specifically focused on teaching kids to be better users and consumers of online information. Using their recent published research titled Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning, Stanford developed powerful activities that help kids improve their online civic skills. (This is a great article for a department PLC discussion, BTW.)

Have you thought about the problem of fake news and what your response should be? Struggled with students claiming that Pizzagate is real? That Clinton received hundreds of thousands of illegal votes? That Melania Trump wore shower curtains? Or any hundred of other untrue issues?

Have students or parents ever called you, other teachers, or administrators  to complain about something you or your textbook said based on something they read on Facebook? Do you notice students struggling to find useful and relevant information during online research?

Yes. I hear that amen.

That’s what makes SHEG’s new civic online literacy tools so important. We see the problem. We want to train kids to use evidence and think clearly. But it can be difficult and time-consuming to develop those sort of lessons. It’s nice if someone else can pick up the slack.

SHEG explains it this way:

We are in the midst of an information revolution in which we increasingly learn about the world from screens instead of print. If young people are not prepared to critically evaluate the information that bombards them online, they are apt to be duped by false claims and misleading arguments. To help teachers tackle teaching these critical skills, we’ve developed assessments of civic online reasoning – the ability to judge the credibility of the information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets, and computer screens.

These assessments show students online content—a webpage, a conversation on Facebook, or the comment section of a news article—and ask them to reason about that content. We’ve designed paper tasks as well as tasks that students complete digitally. These tasks are intended for flexible classroom use. We hope teachers use the tasks to design classroom activities, as the basis for discussions about digital content, and as formative assessments to learn more about students’ progress as they learn to evaluate information.

So head over and start prepping your kids to be better consumers of online info and better creators of evidence-based arguments. Because, now more than ever, we need engaged, informed, and thoughtful citizens.

(And if you’re looking for a few extra resources, explore this Google Folder with a slide deck and tools from a Fake News presentation I gave a few weeks ago.)

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