The Common Core Social Studies Standard for History/Social Studies CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 demands that students cite evidence when practicing expository writing. Students need to use that evidence to support their analysis of primary and secondary sources. Specific evidence helps students prove why they believe their analysis of the primary or secondary source is accurate. Without proof, it is an ignorant opinion.
When first beginning to teach students how to cite, a teacher can introduce it as a matching exercise. They can provide students with five to ten short secondary or primary sources. Then they should offer the same amount of statements. Have the students find the primary or secondary sources that could provide the evidence to make each statement true. In order to differentiate instruction for this I would use the Multiple Intelligence Theory. I would allow my intrapersonal learners to conduct the activity the way I suggest above. For my interpersonal and kinesthetic learners, I would create small posters with the individual statements and the primary sources. The students could then search for the match with the other students that are going through the activity in this format. Once they think they have a match, I would have them come up to me and explain orally why they think it’s a match. They should say something in the realm of “We think it matches because…”. That statement will also help them gear up for the next Common Core Standard that I will be writing about in my next article.
Once students understand that they can cite evidence to prove an opinion statement, they need to practice writing their own opinion on the content and then write the reason a primary or secondary source helps to prove it. Teachers can have students practice this by providing a primary or secondary source for students to read and providing a question for them to answer about it. The question must contain a ‘why’ statement. The student should then answer the question and state the reason including a ‘because’ statement connecting their opinion with the factual evidence from the primary or secondary source.
When students are ready to move on, they should start using primary or secondary sources in an essay format, usually called a DBQ essay, there are three possibilities for citing specific evidence from the documents.
1. Students may summarize or quote what was stated in the document.
2. Students may summarize or quote and then write where they found the evidence.
3. Students may summarize or quote a document and then place the document number or title inside parenthesis.
Encourage students to create educated opinions by citing proof during expository writing. It will encourage critical thinking and increase confidence because they will be able to back up their opinions. Instead of just saying “I think it means this…,” they’ll say “It means this because…”. One of our goals as social studies educators is to teach our students the skills they need to be successful in life. This Common Core Social Studies Standard can help us accomplish this goal.
I have created an expository leveled writing system that can help social studies teachers differentiate instruction for their students. You can find it by clicking here: Leveled Expository Writing System
Click on the link below to find out more about how to use the Common Core Standards.
To find out more about the Common Core Social Studies Standards, click here. That page goes through the Common Core Social Studies Standards and simplifies them by giving examples and explanations.