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/]. 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, 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 other resources as well as interviews to learn about immigration in this country and gather information about their cultural and ethnic heritage (Standard 4).
- Using historical research capabilities to formulate historical questions. Students will develop questions to focus their inquiry, using their preliminary explorations as a starting point (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 Mid-Continent Writing Standards [http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/standardslib/langarts.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.
- Demonstrating skill in composing essays without significant grammatical problems.
- Creating compositions that utilize effective descriptive language and integrate supporting details.
- Using a variety of data resources to compose an essay.
- Synthesizing research information to formulate a new position.
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