If you look through the data for this blog as well as my companion site, 63000resources.com, a not so surprising trend emerges. Overwhelmingly, classroom materials are the most downloaded and clicked on links when compared to professional development resources, presentation items, and demonstration videos. Consequently, it seems pretty obvious to highlight one of the best resources available and explain how any educator—including those outside of Nevada—can use them to meet the expectations of the Common Core.
The Nevada History OUTs (Opening Up the Textbooks) are a teacher created resource that is free for download. Each OUT highlights an important part of Nevada history with an emphasis on students reading complex informational text and retrieving evidence to support claims. Moreover, the OUTs nurture historical thinking skills in which students see a single narrative—from the textbook—complicated, vivified, contested, and/or expanded. If you live outside of Nevada, there is plenty for you here with lessons on Westward Expansion, the Hoover Dam, and mining and taxation.
I have implemented three OUTs this year and what follows is why I am so enthusiastic. This includes
- The OUTs are well matched to the Common Core and the Instructional Shifts. Specifically, each lessons has students working with complex text—often challenging primary resources—and its academic vocabulary. Students have to read, write and speak using evidence and as students move through each OUT they are building a coherent body of knowledge.
- Students have to work cooperatively to build understanding and to gain full access to the texts. The OUTs highlight the value of academic discourse and fluidly align to the habits of annotating and Accountable Talk.
- They are free.
- They were vetted in classrooms before ultimately being shared online.
- Students enjoy the challenging work. I switch between the OUTs, the Basal Alignment Project lessons, and Core Knowledge during my literacy block. The OUTs have proven to be a hit and you can see them in action at my classroom blog here and here.
You can see an overview video of what an OUT is and read more here. You can here watch Stanford professor Dr. Sam Wineburg explain how students learn history here.