Friday, December 21, 2012

A way forward on firearms in the US

The inescapable conclusion that the horrific events in Newtown, CT leads me to is this:  Firearms, when inadequately regulated and inappropriately used pose a clear and present danger to our society. Therefore, though ownership of a gun is a Constitutionally protected right, it is necessary and proper to regulate that right, just as we regulate speech, the media, searches of private property and the other "inalienable rights" enshrined in the Constitution.

I'd propose that there are two examples from our society that give us a very clear path forward in having this conversation about firearms: How we regulate alcohol and automobiles.

In dealing with alcohol we see the following types of regulations in place: age restrictions; open container laws; regulation of who can sell and where; licenses apportioned locally; restrictions on consumption in vehicles; public intoxication laws; limits on days it can be sold; and parents responsible for minors' consumption.

In dealing with automobile operation, we see the following types of regulations in place for licensure: age restrictions; pass a written test; pass a usage test; pass a vision test; clearly defined renewal procedures; different requirements for licensure of different types of vehicles and specific licenses for specific vehicles. Finally, you can't renew the license if there are outstanding violations, which requires a database background check.

If we look at automobile registration as well we find the following types of regulations in place: auto insurance is required to register your car; states annually inspect vehicles for safety and emissions; there is a clearly defined renewal procedure; and it is possible to transfer plates when a new car is bought.

All these are generally common sense regulations that help enable us to safely consume alcohol and have confidence in our fellow drivers and their automobiles.  They can and should be applied to firearms. To wit:

As with alcohol, there should be age limits, and restrictions on the ability to carry and make use of firearms in public spaces. Sellers of firearms should be regulated for where, when and to whom they sell weapons. Parents should be held legally responsible for minors use of firearms as well.

As with cars, people who want to own a gun should have to follow similar procedures to getting a drivers license. They should have to take a gun safety course and pass a written and usage and vision test before getting a license. Licenses should be granted in conjunction with an affidavit of competence that comes from completing coursework and mental health evaluation. There should be varied levels of license for different types of guns.  There should be no granting of a license or of a renewal if a background check turns up anomalies in their criminal record, or if the person is undergoing mental health treatment. As with auto registration, insurance should be required at a set amount of coverage for accidental death or if the guns are used to commit crimes, and the license should not be granted unless the person can prove that he or she has this coverage. Licenses should be subject to annual renewal procedures that include inspection of the firearm.

This should not be a federal matter, but should be left to the various states to establish their own procedures just as they do with drivers licences, auto registration and alcohol. The only requirement is that the data bases used by the states should be linked up so the ATF and FBI can track relevant statistics and criminal activity relating to the use, transportation and sale of firearms.

Personally, I have no need for guns, and I am not comfortable with their availability in our society. Though I don't hunt, I can understand that others do, as, indeed, I grew up around peers who regularly hunted with rifles. I can not understand how anyone can live in the United States of America and feel so unsafe that they must possess a weapon that can physically cut a person in half with a stream of bullets. However, I do believe in the Constitution, and I believe that, as John Stuart Mill said, liberty means you are free to do whatever you wish until it impacts others.  It seems to me that the balance to be struck here is just that. The rights of individuals should be protected until they interfere with the stable operation of society.  That is the heart of the social contract, and it should be our goal to preserve that balance. Sensible regulation is needed to make that possible, and to take reasonable action to prevent tragedies like Newtown, CT from happening ever again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The failure of high school Social Studies teachers

As I watch this election season unfold, I have one, over-riding thought:

We. Failed.

And by "We," I mean Social Studies teachers.

And by "Failed," I mean we have not taught our citizens how to talk about politics. As a result, our citizens can't talk to each other about the important issues of the day in anything other than a fact-avoidant, hyperbolic, simultaneous, shouting match where volume overrules logic, stupid is celebrated, and hyperbole is evidence. This election season shows the failure of the public high school system to prepare generations of responsible, thoughtful citizens.

Concurrent with our society losing the ability to have reasoned discourse in our civic life, we, the teachers, have lost our willingness to tackle these issues in our classrooms. It seems to me that we, the teachers, are scared to even try to do so for fear of parent, administrative and media backlash.

We have failed.

No more. I'm bringing politics back to my high school.  I will leave my personal ideological biases at the door of the school. I will teach my students have to have a reasoned discourse about the issues that plague our society.

I will be the difference in my students' civic lives that will help to mold them into a generation that doesn't blindly drink the intellectually thin soup the media currently feeds us. I will lead my students away from the painted harlot that is demagoguery. I will bring them back to the idea that there is a larger cause than just individual satisfaction, and that being an informed citizen is the best kind of community service.

I will have my students address the controversial issues of our country. We will talk about abortion, gun control, and the death penalty. We will talk about states' rights and federal rights. We will talk about the deficit, the budget, and spending priorities. We will talk about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, "the general welfare" and the obligations inherent in a social contract between the government and the governed. We will address the concerns of the day in a way that will cause my students not to argue with anger but rather to argue with intellect and facts.  We will invite parents and the community to have this discussion with us, and I will teach my students how to lead those discussions.

There is no one else who can arrest the decline in civil, civic discourse in this country but Social Studies teachers. No other group of people has the ability to reach each and every future citizen; no other group has the chance to make this change before it is too late. Not the media, not the parties, not the elected officials, not the parents. It's just we, the teachers, who can do this.

So I throw down this gauntlet all of you, my colleagues in high schools across the nation. Leave your ideological biases at the schoolhouse door along with your fears that reason can't trump emotion and help to get this country back on track with reasoned discourse on issues of continental importance.

Pick it up.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Common Core Rubric for History/Social Studies 9-10

For the past few weeks, my colleage Mike Milton ( and I have been sharing some work we have done with the Common Core State Standards for History/Social Studies.  During that work, we created some rubrics to help guide us based on the 9-10 standards and the 11-12 standards.

Below is what we created for the Reading Standards for History Social Studies for the 9th and 10th grades. (Mike posted the 11-12 standards on his blog earlier this weekend.)

Take a look and let us know what you think!

Key Ideas and Details (Green Circle)

RH.9-10.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

Needs Specific Improvement
- Student does not cite any evidence from the text.-student cites some specific evidence, but omits the important ones.
-attempts to connect details to the text as a whole
- Cites specific evidence to support analysis of text
Student brings in outside information from prior knowledge/other sources

RH.9-10.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

Needs Specific Improvement
-does not identify the central idea.

-summary is a regurgitation of sections of the text
-accurate summary is lacking; key points omitted
provides central ideas but adds superfluous details from the text

Clearly and succinctly identifies the central ideas of the text AND makes a connection to historical/modern events.

RH.9-10.3. Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

Needs Specific Improvement
-Students are unable to see connections between events.

-Students are unable to articulate the difference between an event that simply happens and an event that causes another to occur.
-Student can identify that there is a connection between events, but cannot explain the connection

-Students struggle to differentiate between “preceeding” and “causing” events
-Student provides an analysis of the series of events, showing causality.
-Student offers a valid hypothesis to explain why an action or event occurred based on the text.

-Student points to areas of uncertainty based on what the text omits or leaves vague.

Craft and Structure (Blue Square)

RH.9-10.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Needs Specific Improvement
-Student is unable to determine the meaning of words and phrases or the meaning of words and phrases comes directly is a regurgitation of a website definition.-Student can vaguely define the words and phrases in the context of the source text.

-Student can use political, social, economic vocabulary appropriately and in the context of the time period being studied.
-Student can accurately define the words and phrases as they are used in the text.

-Student attempts to integrate the vocabulary into work outside of the confines of the source text.
-Student can regularly make use of the words and phrases in non-textual situations.

-Student can offer alternative terms to replace vocabulary used in the text.

RH.9-10.5. Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.

Needs Specific Improvement
-Student cannot explain how different sections add to the text as a whole.
Student can vaguely identify how the text uses structure to emphasize key points.
-Student can explain the importance of the structure that the author used to the meaning of the document
-Student can identify the’ importance of structure AND connect them to the historical context of the time.

RH.9-10.6. Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

Needs Specific Improvement
-Students are not able to identify a point of view in any of the documents.-Students are able to identify a point of view, but not multiple.

-points of view are identified but details are mis-aligned or ignored.
-Students are able to identify the difference between multiple points of view and can hypothesize why different authors might have different perspectives.-Students can articulate the points of view of more than one author and can imagine the points of view of other people not present and hypothesize how they would treat the subject.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (Black Diamond)

RH.9-10.7. Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

Needs Specific Improvement
-Students are not able to integrate quantitative or technical analysis with qualitative analysis.-Student can identify methodologies of data presentation (i.e.: charts vs. graphs) but can not integrate them with qualitative analysis-Student can identify methodologies of data presentation (i.e.: charts vs. graphs) and can integrate them with qualitative analysis.-Student can create his or her own quantitative analysis based on qualitative analysis.

RH.9-10.8. Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.

Needs Specific Improvement
-Student is unable to identify reasoning or evidence the author is using.-Student can identify the evidence that the author uses but cannot evaluate it.-Student can assess the validity of an author’s claims based upon evidence gathered.-Students are able to identify gaps in evidence, or offer additional evidence to support the author’s claims.

RH.9-10.9. Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Needs Specific Improvement
-Students can neither compare nor contrast how the same topic is treated in different sources.-Students can either compare or contrast (but not both) the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.-Students can compare and contrast different treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
-Student can evaluate diverse texts to create an explanation of an idea or source, noting discrepancies among the sources.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

cats and corn

I just did something stupid.

I should back up, however, because if I just come right out and tell you about it, it won't be stupid.

I'm engaging in an annual procrastinative (that is now a word) activity I call, "cleaning my house."  See, school starts soon, and I have tons to do to get my classes ready, get my mind ready, get my psyche ready, so I don't do any of those things, and instead I decide that this is the best time to get everything in my house clean. Everything.

As a result, I'm walking around the upstairs and the downstairs listening to the radio and picking up cat toys, which is new this year, as my cats are also celebrating their one year anniversary with me and my children. (You can guess whose fault it is I have cats. Right. Mine.) The radio is on, loudly, but, in a fit of trying to appear informed about the world, it isn't playing music, it's broadcasting NPR, which, of course, is talking about all the many ways that our world is collapsing into chaos and despair.

So I'm whistling to drown out the bad news.  But, despite my best efforts, some bad news filters through the whistling and I register the impact (pending, it isn't here yet, the experts declare) of the drought on food prices.  As we have decided to tie everything that we eat to corn in some way or another, it seems that since there is no corn, thanks to the drought caused by our consistent poisoning and altering of our environment, everything connected to corn will be more scarce, and thus more expensive. Hence, tortilla chips, soda, and especially meat are all going to be scarce in my home this fall, because, naturally, all meat bearing animals are fed corn.

And it is here I did something stupid.  I began to calculate how much the armful of cat toys cost. Then I added in litter (which, ironically is made of corn. Really. World's Best Cat Litter. Look it up.).  Then I added in vet costs. Then I added in their food, which is, of course, meat, given the carnivorous nature of felines, and I began to realize the expense of having pets was not going to get cheaper, and perhaps I should not have cats anymore.

I descended to the downstairs and deposited the toys in the basket we've designated as their toy bin. Both cats came running to see if there were any new toys, or toys that they may have forgotten since the last time they saw them. The insidious nature of cat toys, I tell them, is that they are all, individually, not very expensive. $.50 to $1.00 each. But collectively, they add up. The cats don't care. Rolling on the ground, one pounces on the other. I tell them that their food is going to be more expensive, and they need to tighten their belts and be prepared to be thinner. One stops pawing her sister and starts licking her tail.  The other walks over to the basket and proceeds to methodically scoop out the toys, looking at me the whole time as she swats them across the room. Tail clean, her sister butts her head against my hand, demanding to be loved, and I oblige her by scratching her head and chin. She then ignores me picks up a toy mouse in her mouth and trots off to another room to play with it.

It was stupid to think I can do anything about the expense they cause me; it is clear that they are in charge.  I just hope they don't decide to eat me when meat gets too expensive...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Common Core Social Studies activity for 11-12

Continuing with our posts (my colleague Michael Milton ( and I), below is a sample activity for 11 and 12th graders using the Social Studies Common Core Literacy standards. 

I decided to make use of John Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government, particularly his views on Natural Law in Chapter II, because that helps our students to see how the Enlightenment thinking practically impacted the creation of the primary documents of American government.  These could be directly used in any US history course, AP US, or AP Government, and indirectly could be useful in AP World History and AP European History course. You can, of course, use more or less of the document as you see fit and to fit the needs of your curricular standards!

Once again, I am breaking down the standards into our Green Circle, Blue Square and Black Diamond levels, and incorporating some technology into the activities. However, each of the activities could be done with no technology at all; just good old pen and paper would be fine!

At the end of the activities (linked as before to the standards) I will include links to the documents I would use as supporting these lessons. These do not necessarily translate well to the 9-10 or 6-8 Common Core standards, but, with some creativity and alterations, they could be adapted to those levels.

Key Ideas and Details (Green Circle)

RH.11-12.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

1. What is the overall purpose of Locke's Second Treatise? How do you know? Compose a 5 sentence paragraph on your blog in which you describe his purpose and state your evidence in your own words.

RH.11-12.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

2. What is the most important idea of Locke's Second Treatise? A) Compose a paragraph in which you support your answer with 2-3 pieces of evidence. B) if you feel ambitious, distill his idea into a 140 character tweet.

RH.11-12.3. Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

3. Is Locke correct in his descriptions/depictions of how people act when left to their own devices? Provide three real-world examples in the behavior of teenagers that proves or disproves Locke’s ideas.Tweet your examples (in words or pictures) with the hashtag #stateofnature

Craft and Structure (Blue Square)

RH.11-12.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

1. Locke states in Chapter II, Section 6: “But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it.”

          A. Based upon your understanding of the document create a near definition (which means you may not use a dictionary or word defining app of any sort to reach a definition) of the following terms in the context of the author’s work.

          B. Using your new understanding of the terms above, rewrite the sentence that begins Chapter II, Section 6. Post the near definitions and your new sentence on your blog.

RH.11-12.5. Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

2.  Read Chapter II, Sections 7 and 8. Explain in a blog post: how do they both lead to the final sentence of section 8?

3. In a paragraph you post to your blog, answer the following question: Why does Locke conclude Chapter II, Section 15 with the statement “But I moreover affirm, that all men are naturally in that state, and remain so, till by their own consents they make themselves members of some politic society; and I doubt not in the sequel of this discourse, to make it very clear.” Is this consistent with how he began Chapter II, Section 4?

RH.11-12.6. Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

4. Show, using educreations or showme, how do the documents (Second Treatise of Civil Government and Document 3) define the State of Nature? Do Locke and Hobbes use the same concepts to reach their definition(s)?

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (Black Diamond)

RH.11-12.7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

1. Use Document 2 to compose a blog post in which you demonstrate why Christianity's creation myth supports the notion of a state of nature for human beings.

RH.11-12.8. Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.

2. Read Document 3. Compose an argument for/against Locke’s explanation of natural law and either write on your blog or record yourself (using audioboo or your iPad's camera) giving it. You must use the contents of Document 3 and at least two examples from current events to support yourself.

RH.11-12.9. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

3. Read the selection from the textbook pertaining to the writing of the Declaration of Independence, and the Declaration of Independence (Document 5) itself. The textbook claims that Jefferson was heavily influenced by Locke’s work and beliefs. First, find two selections from the Declaration of Independence that support this claim and post them to your blog. Then compose answers to the following: Are the authors of the textbook correct in making this statement? Why does the textbook place Jefferson in the same context as philosophers like Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau? Is this comparison valid? Why or why not?

Second (or as a separate activity), explain in a blog post why would Jefferson not embrace Hobbes’ views on the state of nature and natural law? What events in America’s early colonial history would predispose the Founders to reject Hobbes and embrace Locke?  If they had embraced Hobbes, how would the Declaration of Independence have been written differently?

Document 1: John Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Goverment, Chapter II, sections 4, 6, 7, 8, 15. Document is available at:

Document 2: Painting of Adam and Eve, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553). A digital copy of this image is available at:

Document 3: selections from leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, CHAPTER XIV, section 1, 2, 3, 4 available at:

Document 4 is selections from your own textbook account of the writing of the Declaration of Indepenence. (If your book doesn't have this, or, fortunately for you, you don't use a textbook, you can use wikipedia's entry on the subject.)

Document 5 is the Declaration of Independence, located at:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

iPad Activities for the Common Core in High School Social Studies

My colleague, Michael Milton, and I have been working this summer on how to integrate the Social Studies aspects of the Common Core's reading and writing standards into our 1:1 iPad environment.  Over the next week or so, we'll be rolling out our ideas and rubrics on this blog and on his:

We broke down the standards into three categories: Green Circle, Blue Square, Black Diamond.  Mike came up with the idea, mostly because he misses skiing in the summertime, but they do represent the degree of difficulty that the standards pose, not only for to students to attain, but also for teachers to implement!

The standards themselves are linked up here.  Inserting them into this document would make it incredibly lengthy, so I'll cross-reference them based on their number. (RH refers to Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, and the # refers to the numbered standards in the 9-10 band)  However, though these are the 9-10 standards, the activities work just as well in the 6-8 and the 11-12 band. (or, if you prefer, Padawans, Jedi Knights and Jedi Masters can do all of these too...)

Below, I've compiled a preliminary list of ways that the iPad could be used in class to hit the various standards laid out for grades 9-10. Wherever possible, I am using only free apps. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is what came to mind while thinking about the standards and how to use them in my class.

Green Circle ideas:

RH-1, 2, 3 History Head activities (picture of an empty head in profile, use any drawing app to draw or write or paste in words and images inside and around it): what was the author thinking? What's the purpose he or she was trying to express? What are images that represent the ideas of the document? Students can then post the filled head to their blogs, email it to the teacher, share (using Bump) with a partner and write about what you included that the partner did not.  You could also do this using VoiceThread and students can comment/write back to each other.

RH-1 Timeliner activity. At the start of the class, students should create a chronology of events (or the teacher can provide one) that they modify as the class proceeds. Students should place the documents they analyze on the timeline of contemporaneous events made using, constructed through other apps like doodlebuddy/educreations, or on paper and photographed and shared via bump, email, blog, twitter or edmodo.

RH-2 Summarizer activities: What do you know, what do you think you know, what do you want to know about what this document tells you, use educreations/showme to create slides and record the students voices articulating their answers to the above prompts.

RH-3 Cause and effect: what happens first, second, third, and show causation using educreations or showme--talk through the events of the document with accompanying text. Students could also use a diagramming app like InFlowChartLite to map out the events using different geometric shapes to contain the event sequence.

Blue Square Ideas:

RH-4 Twitter vocabulary activities: tweet the word, an image to define the word, a sentence that uses the word, hashtags for the document so the teacher can project the tweets on the board with an lcd, or students can follow using Hootsuite's app to view the feed, then vote on which images best capture the meaning of the word in a Google Form, or again, through Twitter itself by re-tweeting their favorites. (Note: Sadly, many schools block Twitter.  You can get much of the same functionality through isn't exactly Twitter, but it is, as they say, a "walled garden" social network that schools should find acceptable. It's free and web-based, but doesn't have an app as far as I know. would also do for this type of activity as well.)

RH-4, 5 Electronic take a sip: import a PDF'd document into Notability/SundryNote/Evernote, and go through and indicate the most important word/sentence/point in a paragraph, or in the document by highlighting/circling/underlining/color-shifting, then share with partner to see his or her agreement/disagreement with the selections. Students can then share into a group of 4 then report out to the class by any of the following: plugging into the LCD projector to show, use bump to share, tweet the document, post on their blogs. Students can also decide what tags/labels to apply to the document, rendering it then searchable within their notes, and compilable with similar documents

RH-4, 5 Wordle creation: political words, economic words, track repetition of terms and create a wordle. The problem with is that it doesn't work on the iPad (Flash based). So students could compile words and share them with the teacher (through any cloud-based app), who can then use a laptop to create the Wordle, which can then be shared with the students to discuss the meanings of the words, why it is that some words were more prominent than others, and what that says about them as a group that they chose these words

RH-4 Blog post/wiki/Google doc/form with definition of terms: originate and share a running term sheet that students add to using their own words. The teacher can create a Google Form with the words ahead of time and provide space for the students to write in a definition to the term and suggest alternative words--synonyms and antonyms, for example. The final spreadsheet can then be shared back with the students, or incorporated into the Wordle activity above.

RH-5 Students can demonstrate their understanding of the structure of a document by using InFlowChartLite or another diagramming app like educreations/showme to diagram the structure of the document.  Prompt them with questions like: How is it set up?  What is the order of the presentation of information? What are the points the author wishes to convey and what is the evidence he/she uses to support those points? What if you re-order his or her argument? Does that make it more or less effective?

RH-6 You can also modify the above History Head (RH 1, 2, 3) activity to show different points of view on the topic. Or you can use an app like Instagram to encourage students to take and then modify pictures related to the document. For instance, the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, or Columbus arriving in this hemisphere.  What do they wish to convey through their modifications to the image?  How do the modifications change the impact or meaning of the original document?

RH-6 Venn Diagrams: compare and contrast two documents for similar and different points. There isn't a good app that I've found for creating Venn Diagrams including text yet. So they would have to make their own diagram.  They could do this in their own notetaking/productivity app, or they could draw them by hand, then snap a photo and upload it to their blog.

Black Diamond Ideas:

RH-7, 8 Data: make graphs and charts using population/demographic data; share graphs and charts through qr codes and then have students answer questions that are posted in a google form. (Apps like Graph, Glimpse allow for this creation; a Google Form can also be used to generate charts, graphs, etc. similar to what excel can do, but this works best on laptops, not iPads. So far...). They can also create their graphs/charts the old-fashioned way and snap photos of them. Students can then embed their data into blog posts that analyze the document in light of the data--are the claims accurate? does the author's use of data match up with a secondary source's use of the data?

RH-8 Two columns of opinion vs. evidence.  use educreations/showme/inflowchart/sundrynote to discriminate between the two opinions. Use the same apps to present the evidence used in more than one document and record themselves talking about which is better, then share it. Students can chart out the author's argument and point to areas of strength and weakness in the claims and evidence used in support.  In the event that the author is still living, students can also see if he or she has a Twitter feed or Facebook page and then contact the author to discuss his or her argument. Students could also model the authors' argument via a wikispace.  One student represents one point of view the partner takes the opposite.  Students must then write their argument in the wiki and incorporate evidence to support their points. Because most wikis will only allow one person to write at a time, they have a built in wait time to see what the other student writes before they jump in.  A Google Doc will do the same thing, just allow for simultaneous writing.  At the end, have the class decide who "won" based on who used the better evidence, and who presented the clearer opinion as a result of the better use of evidence.

RH-8, 9 Students can use Blogger, WordPress, Posterous, or Tumblr apps to compose a blog post reflecting on comparing and contrasting different treatment of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources. They should be encouraged to select the "best" document and explain why that is their choice as the most effective document of the options. They should then be encouraged to post back and forth on the blogs about the contents of the original posts. Their posts do not have to be only words either.  They could use a series of scaled images to represent varying degrees of effectiveness, again, Wordle could be used, collages of facts...blogs can be more than just words on a screen!