RM Winter 2016 FLIP

Traditional with a Twist: Implementing Unplugged andWeb-based Literacies in Social Studies

Leah Pettit, Converse College; Edward Bertrand, Converse College Mark Fleming, Converse College and Julie P. Jones, Converse College

Reading Matters Teaching Matters

The activity is most effective when students are familiarized with the concept of learning preferences and given instruction on cognitive processes (Dotger and Causton-Theoharis, 2010; Lee, Irving, Pape, & Owens, 2015). The effectiveness of think- Tac-Toe as an instructional activity is bolstered by its ability to create a more engaging and meaningful learning experience for students. It is also a flexible strategy that can be used across the curriculum and can be applied to multiple content areas (Dotger and Causton-Theoharis; Samblis, 2006).

Incorporating technology into the classroom requires knowing when traditional methods are best and when the use of technology may improve and extend instruction. A focus on strategic learning coupled with content and technical expertise, whether on paper or plugged in, promotes instructional balance. Many educators are devising ways to incorporate technology-focused media and interfaces and are seeking methods of using technology that extend the learning instead of falling into the mindset of simply replacing our paper and pencils with tablets and laptops (Celsi & Wolfinbarger, 2002). Using technology in the social studies classroom allows the teacher to apply constructivist principles to his or her instruction (Dils, 2000). Incorporating technology as a means of conducting inquiry in social studies provides students with practical experiences that can be transferred to other aspects of social studies instruction. This article provides teachers with literacy-based instructional strategies for social studies that can be both unplugged and plugged in. Cognitive Strategies for Comprehension Researchers agree that teachers who are aware of student thinking are better able to support student learning (Lee, Irving, Pape, & Owens, 2015; Marzano, 2009; National Reading Panel, 2000). Quality formative feedback improves student understanding and knowledge construction. Therefore, when strategies are taught for making sense of texts, and when learners understand how the construction of knowledge occurs, they are better able to discern how to best demonstrate their skills and strengths. When students have the power of choice, motivation increases (Bender, 2002; Diller, 2011; Wilson & Conyers, 2000). The following two activities provide for student choice in demonstration of understanding, increasing both autonomy and purpose while striving for mastery of skills. Unplugged A think-tac-toe consists of a nine-square grid, much like the grid used to play a traditional tic-tac-toe game (see Figure 1). Each square is centered on a common theme, but differs by learning preference or perceptual modality. Students complete three activities to form a tic-tac-toe line, just as they would in a traditional game, and are encouraged to choose activities they feel would best demonstrate their skills. Think- tac-toe can be used specifically to differentiate instruction by adjusting the board according to student reading levels or instructional needs. It also serves as an effective tool to address multiple learning preferences while teaching the same topic.

Figure 1. Unplugged Think-Tac-Toe

Another primary strength of this strategy is its customizability. Think-tac-toe activities can be designed to be similar from topic to topic (to provide students with a consistent experience), or can be modified and adjusted to provide students with a unique experience each time, regardless of the focus standard. The example in Figure 1 shows nine activities that showcase student learning focused on the theory of a land bridge between what have become our modern continents, using the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983). Teachers in fifth grade could also organize the think-tac-toe with inventions in columns and higher order thinking skills in rows (see Figure 2). This way, students are exploring each of the inventions required by SC state standards, but have choice in which ways to showcase their understandings. Much the same way, teachers in kindergarten and first grade can use their columns for Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Dorethea Dix, Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Franklin D. Roosevelt (see first grade indicator 1-3.3).

| 52 | Reading Matters | Volume 16 • Winter 2016 | scira.org


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