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116. RESOURCE DIVE: DESE's Investigating History Curriculum

by Lindsay Lyons
May 23rd 2023
In today's solo episode, Lindsay is sharing and walking you through a resource dive related to DESE's Investigating Hi... More
I'm educational justice coach, Lindsay Lyons. And here on the time for Teacher podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling, and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings. If you're a principal, assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nerdy out about co creating curriculum with students. I made this show for you. Here we go and welcome to episode 1 16 of the time for teacher podcast. Today I am talking about the investigating history curriculum being released this year. So for the academic year of 2023 to 2024 in the state of Massachusetts. Now, I think anyone can get this outside of Massachusetts. But if you are a Massachusetts educator, particularly if you are a leader of grades 56 or seven, this is going to be for you.

They're gonna expand grades additionally in future years, they're gonna pilot those. I think this year. But for now if your teachers in 56 or seven are thinking about creating or kind of using new curriculum around history. And for social studies, I want to walk you through this and how you can prepare them to engage with this curriculum and get ready to teach it. So here we go. All right, everyone. So episode 1 16, here we're talking about D CS investigating history curriculum. So again, Massachusetts educators and leaders for sure. For you also, anyone else, I think that wants to tap in and has states or curriculum that has similar standards feel free. I think there's honestly a lot that I'm gonna review today and especially in terms of how to prepare your teachers to be able to engage with a new curriculum and to make it their own, make it relevant for students that you teach and that's going to be engaging and going to be project based and, and all the things a curriculum that you see may be good or like good adjacent and you might like it, but you might have things that you or your teachers might want to change about it or alter, make it better, make it more personalized for the students in front of you.

And of course, those students change year to year, the world changes year to year. So how do we take an existing curriculum and make it really responsive? I have been reluctant to support any sort of off the shelf curriculum because of that reason because if we don't adjust it to the students in front of us or the world that's ever changing around us, I just don't think it's that engaging. Now that said I recently did a bunch of training. I'm now one of the certified providers of learning how to use desi's investigating history curriculum for the state of Massachusetts. I'm one of a handful of groups or teams that are working on this and I decided to do this because I saw an opportunity to take a curriculum that was pretty good and personalize it more and give teachers the tools to personalize it for their students and make it even better. So we're gonna dive into what exactly the curriculum is. What are the foundational kind of principles and research base that they're going off of that? The creators kind of went off of to build it and then what is the thought process behind what I'm gonna share with you, which is kind of the approach for supporting teachers to use it and personalize it.

So what are the additional layers that we can kind of think about in our training that maybe in a typical implementation of a new curriculum we're not usually thinking about or, you know, maybe few people are thinking about. So here we go. Here's why I like it. This curriculum is based on four interconnected instructional principles. These are historical inquiry and investigation. So this is really making sure that the instructional methods, the things that we're doing day to day in this curriculum or that your students are doing is that you're gonna center inquiry based learning and questioning that's going to lead to investigation. So students are really gonna take on this role of researcher, they're going to engage with authentic source materials. This is pretty cool stuff. So we think about this, this the research base behind this idea of historical inquiry and investigation. There are significant benefits that research is found for students when classrooms are organized around quote driving questions that lead students to encounter central concepts or principles, focus on a constructive investigation that involves inquiry and knowledge building, focusing on problems that occur in the real world and that people care about ends quote.

And that's from Linda darling Hammond and colleagues in a 2008 publication. And so thinking about this, right? Taking informed action is the culmination of inquiry. This is from a concept from N CS S. So, a National Organization on Social Studies, we think of investigation as being much broader than inquiry actually. And and um really making sure that students use this process of investigation, inquiry and investigation when they craft arguments. So when sources are intentionally selected, which is what this curriculum does for us, right? Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out what sources we're actually going to present to students so that they can have this kind of scaffolded research approach that enables students to better able to do the work and to actively participate in democratic citizenship research, fines and of course to work to strengthen justice, which is what we are all about. When curriculum units involve inquiry cycles related to key disciplinary concepts that involve interpreting an event or exploring a problem, connecting the event or problem to prior knowledge, generating initial interpretations or stances, gathering evidence and constructing an argument, seeking new evidence and modifying the art as appropriate and developing questions that lead to further inquiry throughout the unit.

Then students are gonna have opportunities to do the work in this curriculum individually, in small groups and as a full class because we know each of these activities are really strengthening our core understanding and our core practices of historical inquiry. So a lot of this, I'm I'm kind of pulling some quotes from directly from research and then others from the synthesis of research that desi has done and and this is published on their website around this investigating history curriculum. So you can find the full documentation there. So that's kind of number one instructional principle, historical inquiry and investigation. Now the second one is historical empathy and human connections. So here we're thinking about the instruction that is used really the purpose of it is to deepen insight into human connections throughout historical empathy and effective dimensions of study. So we're thinking about historical empathy and human connections. We don't want to avoid hard history. So we, we really want this curriculum to help students recognize the agency of people who have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma and that they resisted and are currently resisting that trauma really drawing on healing and form of pedagogy.

We want students to engage in these perspective, taking activities and have that lead to historical empathy, civic empathy, geographic empathy, economic empathy, this is what we want students engaging with. And I think this curriculum does do a good job of shifting traditional narratives around historical events and groups of people. Of course, I think there's always more room to grow. But I do think this is a really good base of a curriculum to jump off with that and pursue it deeper for your students. So again, that's a focus area that you could deepen in your P D with your teachers. Number three, civic engagement and current world relevance. So this makes sure that we have drawn connections to contemporary world around us. Things are always changing. How do we bring that in and also foster civic engagement. So we're talking about that. I really like that. The Jesse documentation cites West Timer and Keynes Justice Oriented Citizenship. So they have four types of citizens. And I think this one of justice oriented citizen is really valuable to think about and to center in our classroom practice what we do here.

And in this curriculum, the goal is to nurture reflective patriotism leading students into neither excessive cynicism or excessive adulation about the past. This is from educating for American Democracy, a publication in 2021 and the history and Social science curriculum dey rates should engage students in contributing to and reimagining our democracy. The core of this concept is their ability to practice taking informed civic action. This is from Levinson and Levine in 2013. And as they develop in their ability to take informed action, it requires they interact with others within many different local national and global arenas, as well as delivery on what level of government and which methods are most effective in enacting civic change. Anytime I coach around, you know, uh a justice movement where we're learning about social movements or social justice movements, civics rights. I think this is a really big point. So we want to learn about the past, but we want to learn about it so that it can inform the present. So what worked then what will work now, what can we learn from the past to inform civic engagement currently, how do we kind of take stock of the different strategies at hand?

Also desi documentation talks about how students should be given opportunities to draw connections. Again, as I said, between the past and present world, understand the role people organize in movements and engage in social activism had in changing history. And today, some Martel and Stevens as I talked about on the podcast before and they've said themselves on this podcast before. They were guests in episode, I think one oh one is somewhere around there around 100. Um and they have regular practice and analyzing, evaluating current policies and actions and imagining the policies of the future. So this is what we want for our students really that our routines enable students to practice engaging with others in public problem solving. So Martel and Stevens often talks about, right, this idea of the collective as being more important than this mythical individual hero, right? So how do we engage students in this? We also want to make sure we're evaluating our decision making procedures. And I love any connection that you can make and have students make to the decision making structures of the school itself. Apply the same things we're talking about in the curriculum, about larger government structures to the government structure of the thing that they experience daily, right?

The thing that's happening in their school. All right. And then the fourth piece is culturally affirming pedagogy. So this is going to result in students academic achievement, cultural competence, sociopolitical awareness. We know this has so many benefits and there's so much research on this. But I'll just share a little bit here when teaching is disconnected from students', cultural backgrounds, there's negative impacts to academic achievement, to civic skills and dispositions when it's connected to the backgrounds of students from nondominant groups. There's evidence of increased academic engagement improved academic outcomes and a better sense of self and increased agency within communities. And that's what we want. Now, there's strong evidence that students from dominant groups also benefit from culturally affirming curriculum. It increases their perceptions of racial and cultural commonalities and differences among groups helps them better understand the role of race and racism in society and leads to increased engagement in the content being studied. So I know I'm actually currently reading how to Raise an anti racist by Doctor Abraham X Kendy. And it is talking about this even as young as preschool, there are enormous benefits to white kids as well, right?

We often talk about bipoc students and the value of taking a justice oriented approach for students in any sort of marginalized group or community. This is also really valuable for identities that have been historically centered. So when we think about this, right, we we learn about the ISMs. We also highlight the agency of groups by centering narratives of survival, resistance, joy excellence. These are asset based and they avoid centralizing. We have students examine issues of power, equity justice, make arguments around historical and current events. We critique the status quo. We bridge class to families and communities outside of school. The materials themselves challenge dominant narratives and amplify nondominant group experiences. We develop students concepts of race, gender, sexual orientation, all of our multitude of identities. And we facilitate academic discussion of racism in the past and in the present. We also in large and I love this quote from the desi documentation. We want to be enlarging their sense of what is possible in human societies. Yes. Yes to all of this.

And I think a creation based approach our students are creating that step forward is is what this could be about like that totally aligns now, in addition to all of these pieces, so as a summary, those were the four interconnected instructional principles, historical and Korean investigation, one, two historical empathy and human connection, three civic engagement and current world relevance and four culturally affirming pedagogy, there's also kind of these three pillars behind all this curriculum. So the social studies or sorry, the social science practice. So we have those seven practices and inquiry and research around these civic knowledge, dispositions, skills and skills of related professions are kind of all here. The content itself is integrated into our understanding of the world. There's a coherent progression. I'll tell you what the content is for each of these grade levels in just a moment and then also literacy skills. So reading, writing, speaking, listening, those are essential to learn in and of themselves. And it really helps us learn the content also.

So unit one for grade five as it currently stands. And so this is I'm recording this on Monday March 27th of 2023. This is an ever evolving and changing and updating curriculum. We constantly consult or the creator sessions maybe be the creators are constantly in consultation with teachers and students and how they experience the curriculum and what could be different. Of course, they're also in contact with academics in the fields, people in various countries and um groups that help inform the resources used in the narratives um highlighted. So let me just tell you what it currently is. Unit one, grade five starts with early colonization. Unit two goes to revolution and principles of us. Government unit three is growth of the Republic and unit four is civil war and civil rights for all sixth grade human origins. And unit one, there is currently not a unit two. I think they're actually finishing that up in the next couple of weeks. Unit three, sub-saharan Africa and Unit four, the Americas grade seven, we start with South and Central Asia, move to East Asia and then uh unit three and four I think are still being um refined at the at the moment.

But just to kind of give you a sense of of what is being learned at each piece. Now, the next big question is OK, cool curriculum sounds good. My teachers are in, I'm in whatever I want to know how to support my teachers in tackling and engaging this big thing, right? Like engaging this curriculum and figuring out how do I put it into action? So my freebie for the episode is going to be my first draft because I'm actually going to be, as I said, a trainer and a facilitator of kind of learning and implementing this curriculum. So feel free to reach out to get my whatever is current as you're listening to this um approach. But my first draft is kind of a rough outline before all the resources are linked in and things of how you might go about this. I'm gonna share that with you and I'll link to it as our freebie for the episodes. You can grab that at Lindsay bat lions dot com slash blog slash 1 16. But here is kind of the big, the big pieces that I want to think about for the outcomes of this kind of P D one. You want teachers to have a system for preparing to teach the first unit of the Investigating history curriculum. So they need a system in place where they are familiar with how it's all organized going in, looking at what is most essential to look at because it can be overwhelming.

So by the way, I absolutely need, how do I learn that each teacher is different? What are the resources I'm gonna go to? There's a lot of repeating information in different formats to accommodate that everyone is different. So make sure every teacher has a system. You want their, why each teacher to have their y for focusing on one of the four core principles of the framework. So I share those four principles with you, you want each one of them to choose a focus or you can, you can, you can have them do more than one. But I think if there's a focus for kind of day two of this training, I'm envisioning it as like a two day thing. You're inviting them to go on and then really focus on kind of honing one of those pieces, a list of Summit of assessment essentials, the students will need to be able to know and do these few things for the unit one summit of Assessment. I think it's good to backwards plan from there, know where we're going. So you wanna have them do some sort of activity where they're unpacking the summit. Also what I call a GPS outline which will be looking at what is most important in the unit and then figuring out, OK, this is the most important at a lesson level content, skill or activity.

Usually it's an activity that practices a specific skill. So it's kind of one thing there. I I use the P as protocol and then source, right? So we have kind of a goal, a content goal of the unit. So that's a G uh protocol that is an activity, practicing a skill, that's the P and then a source. So what are they actually looking at was the primary or secondary source? So GPS outline for each lesson in the unit. So kind of a a really kind of high level overview. And then finally the materials that you actually need to teach. Now, I would take a look at what's there. But then again, think about if a teacher wants to focus on one of those four core principles, maybe you can focus on um kind of one of those pieces and how I would do that is maybe looking at a piece of the inquiry process or using Dr Goldie Mohammed's Hill model, focus on one of the five pursuits there. So I have talked about that before the Hill model from Doctor Mohammed and she's talked about it herself as a guest on the podcast.

Feel free to go back and listen to any of those episodes, but really quickly five pursuits, the three I would recommend focusing on identity criticality and joy. Those are what you're not typically gonna find in every unit already and what teachers are typically not gonna do without a little bit of prompting. It's just not historically been part of how we plan. Now, the inquiry routine investigating history breaks it down into three pieces, launching the question, investigating the sources and then putting it together. So I would focus on one of those pieces to get really good at in the first unit and then you can build from there. So invite a teacher to focus on what do you need the most support in helping students launch the question and generate some questions for inquiry, investigating the sources and using maybe some text based protocols to actually get in there and, and think about it or putting it together. So how do I want to have discussion or share out protocols in my classroom? Be a place where they put it together? Maybe how do I want students to put it together in a way that advances civic action?

So what kind of action project can I have maybe to add a P D L component? So some of these have longer P D L kind of sum of assessment, some of the units and some don't. So if you want that in each piece, that's a level or a layer, you're gonna need to add in. And I actually think it just enriches it so much. So I think brainstorming around that, what's gonna bring your students that level of excitement, enjoyable and agency around advancing justice using what they're learning to advance justice in their community is so cool. Now, I would also as a leader, think about the ongoing structures of coaching, support success shares and something I've learned in doing some curriculum, coaching and implementation work with different districts across the nation in different curriculum is having a resource bank, a shared resource bank where anyone in the district that is teaching this curriculum can go into like a shared Google Drive or something and see what other people have created in preparation, preparation for teaching a particular lesson or unit or something. Having that just makes it so that every teacher doesn't have to do the full lift on their own.

You could have them have some teaming structures or collaboration approaches where people take on like certain lessons or certain approaches to different lessons. For example, Doctor Muhammad's Hill model, if you're really trying to apply that to each lesson, one person focuses on the joy, one focuses on identity, one focuses on criticality and then you have three teachers working together to make each lesson just even better and relevant for the students in your district. So just some ideas. Again, you can get all of this in terms of the P D agenda outline and some just initial thoughts that I have on this at the blog post to Lindsey Beth lions dot com slash 1 16. I really want to know what you're thinking about this. Are your teachers interested? Reach out to me if you like training but also just grab the freebie and support your teachers on your own. If that feels more helpful, I can't wait to hear how it goes and implementation. And I'm so excited to get your feedback. So let me know if you're leaving this episode wanting more. You're going to love my life coaching intensive curriculum, boot camp. I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students.

We weave current events into course content and amplify student voices which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement. It energizes educators feeling burns out and it's just two days. Plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit, which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me. Grab a spot on my calendar at w w w dot Lindsay beth lions dot com slash contact. Until next time leaders continue to think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the Teach Better Podcast network, better today, better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

116. RESOURCE DIVE: DESE's Investigating History Curriculum
116. RESOURCE DIVE: DESE's Investigating History Curriculum
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