Relation to Standards
We have drawn on the historical thinking standards outlined by the National Center for History in the Schools [http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/]. We feel that these standards provide excellent guidelines for teachers on how to focus social sciences work in their classrooms.
As a social sciences unit, the Ellis Island Unit strives to help students develop "[h]istorical understandings that define what students should know about the history of families, their communities, states, nation, and world. These understandings are drawn from the record of human aspirations, strivings, accomplishments and failures in at least five spheres of human activity: the social, political, scientific [and] technological, economic, and cultural (the philosophical [,] religious [, and] aesthetic), as appropriate for children."
We agree with the researchers at the National Center for History in the Schools that developing "real historical understanding requires students to engage in historical thinking: to raise questions and to marshal evidence in support of their answers; to go beyond the facts presented in their textbooks and examine the historical record for themselves; to consult documents, journals, diaries, artifacts, historic sites, and other evidence from the past, and to do so imaginatively -- taking into account the historical context in which these records were created and comparing the multiple points of view of those on the scene at the time." (Historical Thinking Standards, National Center for History in the Schools)
An evaulation of how the Ellis Island Unit addresses some of the National History Standards:
- Using historical research capablities to obtain historical data. Students will use library and resources as well as interviews to learn about immigration in this country and gather information about their cultural and ethnic heritages. (Standard 4)
- Using historical research capabilities to formulate historical questions. Students will develop questions to focus their inquiry, using their preliminary explorations as a basis. (Standard 4)
- Engaging in historical analysis and comprehension by considering multiple perspectives. Students exploration of library and web resources, as well as their sharing of their research, will help students see the experience of immigration from a variety of perspectives. (Standard 3)
- Developing historical comprehension through drawing upon diverse sources for historical learning. The combined use of library, internet, and human resources will allow students to forge an understanding that history comes from many sources. (Standard 2)
The National Council of Teachers of English [http://marvin.clemson.edu/NCTE/NCTE.home.html] is developing standards for K-12 writing. The Mid-Contient Writing Standards [http://www.mcrel.org/stan-ben/standardslib/langarts-1.html] suggest helpful general and specific skills for K-12 students to learn, and consist of four (4) items or tasks specified for several grade levels.
- Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
- Demonstrates competence in the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing
- Writes with a command of the grammatical and mechanical conventions of composition
- Effectively gathers and uses information for research purposes
The State of Michigan English Language Arts Content (Subject) Standards [gopher://gopher.mde.state.mi.us:70/00/serv/curric/corecur/English_Language_Arts] provide specific content suggestions for K-12 students.
"In grades K-12, the English language arts standards will ensure that all students have opportunities to engage successfully in discovering, creating, and analyzing spoken, written, electronic, and visual texts which reflect multiple perspectives and diverse communities."
Content Standard 3: All students will understand and respect diverse societies and cultures, including their own, through their interactions with literature and other oral, visual, and written texts.
Content Standard 4: All students will view themselves as authors and actors and demonstrate the power of their voices through their oral and written communication.
Content Standard 8: All students will take action that affects their lives and the lives of others based on their understanding of ideas and issues from texts.
Content Standard 9: All students will use various technological and non-technological tools and resources for exploring and creating texts, individually and collaboratively, as they investigate important issues and problems.
Content Standard 10: All students will develop and apply personal, shared, and academic criteria for the enjoyment, appreciation, and evaluation of their own and others' texts.
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