I have long believed that Common Core discussions need to shift from talk about content-free standards to talk about content-rich curriculum that embeds standards. And now this hoped for shift is beginning to happen. The latest issue of Social Studies Research and Practice, an online free-access journal, contains a very helpful article entitled “Tackling Controversial Topics: Developing Thematic Text Sets for Elementary Social Studies” by Christina M. Tschida and Lisa Brown Buchanan. This article shows how to incorporate both ELA and social studies C3 social studies framework when using text-sets. This is a practical approach to curriculum development.
Click on this link to the entire issue and scroll down to find the article at http://www.socstrpr.org/?page_id=2328.
The authors provide a 4-step approach that begins with (1) identifying the big idea for inquiry, (2) identifying the multiple perspectives needed to understand this idea or topic, (3) finding the appropriate books and artifacts, and (4) selecting the materials to use in the classroom. After explaining the steps, the authors take us through the process of making a text-set. They provide three examples of text-sets dealing with controversial issues at three different grade levels: K-1: family, grades 2-3: civil rights, and grades 4-5: slavery. Teachers who want to try out this idea could use these text-sets right now. Others could follow this sensible procedure to create text-sets of their own.
Let’s acknowledge that this is a big job. Finding books, reading and assessing them for curriculum purposes, and then selecting titles and artifacts for classroom use requires focus, determination, and TIME. But this is the job that needs to be done. The results, as I have witnessed again and again, are enormously rewarding. That’s because text-sets provide the necessary “stuff” that’s good to think with.