Midterm Part II: Lesson Plan

1) Title: Investigating Mass Immigrations in U.S. History
2) Grade Level & Subject: 7 through 12th grade
3) Time Needed: 4 class periods of 50 min. each
4) Materials: Computer, internet connection, paper, pencils
5) Description & Purpose: Using a research based inquiry method to probe the compelling questions as listed in the objectives below, students will experientially ask questions, find and evaluate sources, synthesize and compile information into a presentation of their choice in a mass immigration to the U.S. from 1850-2019.  This lesson seeks a balance between independently discovered content through inquiry and the practice of historical skills including research and evidence for claims.

5) Standards:
Geography: SS.7.21, Analyze human population movements and patterns in Contemporary Global Studies. Evaluate the push and pull factors involved in human population movement and patterns.
History: SS-US.9-12.17, Analyze human population movements and patterns in U.S. History.​ Explain the patterns of and responses to immigration on the development of American culture and law.
Inquiry Standard: SS.7.8, Independently construct responses to compelling questions supported by reasoning and evidence.
C3 Framework: D1.5.9-12, Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources.

6) Objectives:
TLW use a jigsaw approach and be asked to identify, research and investigate a mass immigration to the U.S. either with a partner or alone, determining which sources are most relevant and the push pull factors involved, SS.7.21, D1.5.9-12.

TLW create a 5-minute presentation, podcast or 2 page written essay, which includes information on their chosen immigration and relation to U.S laws, SS.7.8.

TLW create a push/pull factor worksheet on the results of their immigration subject connected to the response in American laws on immigration, SS-US.9-12.17.

7) Procedure:
Day 1
Launch/Introduction: (5 min.)
1. Compelling Questions: Do you think American laws on immigration have been too harsh or too lax on immigration of people to the U.S throughout history? Is there a relationship between mass immigration and changes in those laws? What could these involve? (1 min.)
2. Based on prior knowledge, students will turn and talk to a partner and discuss their opinions on this question, then share with the class. (4 min.)

Main Body: (45 min.)
3. Students will be introduced to the assignment where they will research a mass immigration into the U.S. of their choice from 1850-2019, either with a partner, in a small group or alone.
4. Teacher will scaffold and provide a list of possible, but not exhaustive choices from U.S. History, in a PowerPoint with links that they can access on their computers through Pear Deck.

5. Students will be encouraged to choose one that interests them on a personal level. Using a jigsaw approach, students will be asked to identify, research and investigate a mass immigration to the U.S. either with a partner or alone.
6. Teacher will then review how to choose a credible source online with the students, including questions such as: Who is the author? What is its purpose? Who is the publisher? Are there other online sources that can validate the authenticity of the source?
7. Students will have work time. (25 min.)

Day 2: (50 min.)
8. Students continue to research and meet with their groups.  Teacher meets individually with groups to check their sources and ask questions to further their research.
9. Teacher makes sure students are filling out worksheets provided.

Day 3: (50 min.)
10. Students continue work time

Day 4: (50 min. – but depends on how many groups there are)
11. Students present their findings to the class.
12. Teacher and peers provide positive feedback verbally and fill out self-assessment individually and return to teacher.

Students will present their podcast, read their essay or present their findings in a slide presentation (they can send to teacher in advance to show to everyone). Teacher will ask if they see any patterns between immigration and U.S. laws that are consistent.

8) Assessment:
Formative: Teacher will meet with small groups and see if they have collected relevant and credible sources and make sure they have started asking supporting questions to help guide their further research.

Summative: Teacher will collect artifacts from students including their choice of presentation, podcast or short essay and grade these on a rubric.  Students must complete a 5-minute podcast, 2 page essay or 5-minute presentation including a timeline to receive full points.

Rubric for Self-Assessment


Bennett, C. (2018, April 2). Six skills students need to succeed in social
studies class. Thought Co. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/skills-students-need-social-studies-classes-8207

Bruger, K., & Whitlock, A.  (2018, January 17). Social studies skills or
something else? An analysis of how the “Essential Social Studies Skills
and Strategies” reflects social studies instruction. The Clearing House:
A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 91:3, 111-117.

College, career and civic life (C3) framework for social studies state
standards. (2019). National Council for the Social Studies. Retrieved
from https://www.socialstudies.org/c3.

Didau, D. (2011, November 11). Should we be teaching knowledge or skills?
Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2011/nov/22/knowledge-or-skills-solo-taxonomy

Elliot, E. (2018, August 20).  Why read why learn history (when it’s already
summarized in this article)? American Historical Association.
Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/september-2018/why-read-emwhy-learn-history/em-(when-its-already-summarized-in-this-article)

Essential social studies skills and strategies. (2017, July 12.) National Council on the Social Studies. Retrieved from https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/standards/essential-social-studies-skills-and-strategies.pdf

Gedeon, J. (2019). What is project-based learning? Arch for Kids, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.noodle.com/articles/what-is-project-based-learning.

McGrew, S., Ortega, T., Breakstone, J., & Wineburg, S. (2017, Fall). The
challenge that’s bigger than fake news: Civic reasoning in a social
media environment. American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.aft.org/ae/fall2017/mcgrew_ortega_breakstone_wineburg.

Lander, J. (2018, January 17).  Digital literacy for digital natives. Harvard
Graduate School of Education. Retrieved from hhttps://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/18/01/digital-literacy-digital-natives

Thornton, S. (1994). The social studies near century’s end: Reconsidering
patterns of curriculum and instruction. Review of Research in
Education, 20, 223-254. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/stable/1167385.

Voet, M., & De Wever, B. (2016). History teachers’ conceptions of
inquiry-based learning, beliefs about the nature of history, and their
relation to the classroom context. Teacher and Teacher Education, 55,
57-67. Retrieved from http:www.jstor.com.

Wexler, N. (2015, August 28). How common core can help in the battle of skills vs. knowledge. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/opinion/how-common-core-can-help-in-the-battle-of-skills-vs-knowledge.html.

Wineburg, S. (2003, April 11). Teaching the mind good habits. Chronicle of
Higher Education. Retrieved from Nexis Uni.


Part I. Combined Topic: Content vs. Skills, Inquiry and the C3 Framework

The topic I have chosen integrates the debate between content versus skills, inquiry-based learning and the C3 Framework inquiry arc, since these are all interconnected.  The C3 Framework provides an inquiry and child-centered structure for social studies to fill in gaps where content-heavy state standards are lacking.  Inquiry-based learning enables students to engage in social studies by connecting their personal interests and daily lives to current events, and by asking questions and investigating sources for evidence, through collaboration.  The state standards, as applied with the C3 Framework, are more balanced between content and skills than with the standards alone, which have traditionally been tipped in favor of content, meaning knowledge of facts and dates.  Emphasizing skills such as reading and evaluating primary and secondary sources, as well as encouraging debate and discussion provides students a space to practice civics and democracy within the classroom itself–aspects which they will need as informed, literate and critically-minded citizens.

A. Content vs. Skills

In the traditional social studies curriculum, memorization and recitation formed a large part of the content knowledge and discipline methodology, however, with the increased emphasis on testing for reading, literacy skills have been emphasized, yet this does not mean that content should fall by the wayside entirely (Wexler, 2015).  According to Wexler (2015), “For students to understand what they’re reading, they need relevant background knowledge and vocabulary,” so you cannot just teach students how to research, find the main ideas or summarize; there has to be something for them to summarize about.  The authors of the Common Core standards intended them to guide content through the curriculum, with states specifying more of it. 

A balance between skills and content in nearly equal measures seems practical and sensible in application, proven by research, given that the C3 Framework links literacy skills to the social studies as needed for college, civics and future careers as part of understanding what the humanities entail for domain transfer (Voet & De Wever, 2018).  David Didau (2011) relates that students need both in balance to gain knowledge and then apply it in new ways.  For example, students can learn about the history of child labor and economics and use what they know to critique its presence in today’s world.

B. What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry-based learning is primarily the act of questioning, gathering sources and evaluating these in research.  It aligns with John Dewey’s conception of the term.  As Sam Wineburg states: “We need to show students that the self-assured figure lecturing from the podium is not what a historian looks like in his or her office, puzzling through difficult texts” (Wineburg, 2003, p. 3).  During the Progressive Movement, John Dewey developed inquiry-based learning in a general sense, and interestingly, in times of war and political conflict, the “citizenship-transmission” model overshadows inquiry leanings to find what unites Americans as opposed to the “citizenship transformation model,” which encouraged more community and school participation, more in line with Dewey (Bruger & Whitlock, 2018, p. 112).  In the 1960s and early 1970s, Jerome Bruner promoted the rise of inquiry in social studies through the New Social Studies Project (NSS) and curriculum experiment called MACOS (Man: A Course of Study).  During the time of this project’s implementation, it caused an uproar and was suppressed by some teachers and administrators who did not want their children to be transforming the status quo.  Parents and administrators didn’t want kids questioning society’s values using the inquiry method, which is one of its strengths.  So, the political and social climate of the time does affect the debate between skills vs. content, with it now leaning towards skills to de-marginalize the discipline (C3 Framework; Thornton, 1994).

C. Inquiry Skills

The skills of inquiry include asking and formulating questions under the umbrella question tied to the standards given by the teacher, or even brought up by the students themselves, researching deeply through investigation while evaluating sources and finding possible solutions while considering their consequences, as well as acting on understanding (Bennett, 2018; Gedeon, 2019).  Collaboration and problem solving are key elements that provide students choice and individual voice, as well as self-reflection.  Students who are not normally high achievers can also excel in inquiry learning.  Main categories include: literacy skills, critical thinking skills, research-based literacy strategies, learning strategies, and collaborative and civic engagement strategies (Bruger & Whitlock, 2018).  One challenge for the teacher is to provide enough structure in the lesson so kids can share the workload equally, focus in on the questions and receive helpful feedback.   

Other skills supported by the inquiry process include using timelines, map skills, compare and contrast, cause and effect thinking, evaluating primary and secondary sources, and looking into the relevancy of audio and visual sources.         

D. Examples

An example of using inquiry skills in the classroom, as put forth by the C3 Framework, is asking an engaging question at the beginning of class that students can respond to on a personal level, that might be be opinion based.  One possible question could be: historically, do you think immigration in the U.S. has been too restrictive or too lax in terms of its culture and laws?  Should it be more open or more closed at the current moment and why?  Allowing students to research a topic in groups or on their own provides them with more motivation to address the question and piques curiosity (Bruger & Whitlock, 2018).  This also places the teacher in the role of facilitator rather than one who only transmits knowledge and asks students to take copious notes on facts and dates.  By synthesizing information through posing and answering questions, students develop deeper literacy skills.    

Another example using the research skills in inquiry could have students investigating the Great Depression through Dorothea Lange’s photographic portraits of the people in that era, to further explore the relationship between the impacts of that time period on biography (Bennett, 2018).

Additionally, a pertinent example is teaching kids skills to use websites and evaluate sources.  According to research by Sam Wineburg in a 2016 study, 82% of students can’t tell the difference between an ad and a real news story.  An important skill that teachers can impart is digital literacy, which includes asking who wrote the article, evaluating sources for validity as well as bias, and checking out what other websites say (Lander, 2018; Elliot, 2018; McGrew, Ortega, Breakstone, & Wineburg, 2017).  So, the skills of social studies can be applied to digital sources, using inquiry to find out what is real information when doing research in a project.

In conclusion, inquiry-based learning is tipping the balance scale of traditional social studies content slightly more to the skills side of the curriculum while continuing to carry content like a snail shell on its back.  This links social studies learning to literacy standards as well, thus helping to bring it back to the central focus in schools and legitimize its position.