Monthly Archives: December 2013

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking Videos

I ran across this site when I was looking through posts on I think it’s very valuable. It offers six videos on critical thinking that you might find helpful. Here’s the link:!

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Common Core Social Studies

Common Core Standards Help Teachers Enrich Their Lessons


The Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 encourages the social studies teacher to go beyond the curriculum or content in a lesson with the inclusion of primary or secondary sources that may add knowledge or conflict with the knowledge they’ve acquired during a mini-lesson or from reading their textbook.

To use the CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.H.6-8.2 Common Core Social Studies Standard in class, the students must read, analyze and summarize the primary or secondary source explaining how the source is different from what they knew or how it differs with their own opinion. This Common Core Standard brings in high level critical thinking. It helps them connect the content they are learning with their background knowledge. This Common Core Standard also helps them connect the content with themselves. Connecting content to self and background knowledge has long been known to help students retain information.

When I taught in GA, the students learned about Andersonville prison. It was a POW camp during the Civil War with extremely poor conditions and a high death rate. Until I brought in a primary source from a POW camp in Elmira, NY, the students thought that the Confederacy was the only side that had POW camps in the Civil War. Both camps had horrid conditions. When I teach this lesson again, I will provide the same questions that helped students analyze the document. I will add onto what I did before by including a section for students to summarize the document and then another section where they can write about how it conflicted with what they knew or with what their opinion had been before they read the primary source.

In WWI, most teachers will only teach about how the home front helped the war effort through the use of Liberty Bonds and Liberty Gardens, etc. What if a teacher then brought in a primary source about protests against WWI? I for one am excited to see what their responses to that will be.

The next question teachers may ask is how would they differentiate instruction for this type of work session that uses the Common Core Social Studies Standards? My two favorite ways to differentiate instruction are to use the Multiple Intelligence Theory to peak student interest and leveling so that they can learn the same content on their own ability level. To bring in both of these forms of differentiated instruction I would use a ‘Museum Walk’ with two ability levels using two different sides of the room. The average/enriched side would include the primary or secondary sources as is with the questions at the bottom of each source. The lower ability level side of the room would have the primary or secondary sources simplified and have alternate words in parenthesis for vocabulary that is higher than they can handle or for sections that are written so archaically that they would not be able to interpret the meaning. I would also split up the sources into different sections with a question following each section where the answer can be found to help them focus and not be overwhelmed.

During ‘Museum Walks’ students use the kinesthetic intelligence because students move around the room. I would allow students to work in similar ability pairs to bring in the interpersonal intelligence.  I would also offer students the choice of working by themselves in packet form to bring in the intrapersonal intelligence. I would include political cartoons, paintings, photographs or propaganda posters to include the spatial intelligence. Students will be reading the primary or secondary sources from the wall where they hang, discussing the answers with their partner and writing about them so that also brings in the linguistic intelligence. Another option is to have the teacher lead a group of lower level readers and learners with the lower ability level packet form of the activity in a small group to help them read, analyze and summarize the primary sources. The last option will be harder to do without a co-teacher because teachers will still have to pay attention to the partners moving around the room and announce when they need to move to the next source.

Go beyond your content and provide a primary or secondary source that will have your students conflicted and critically thinking about their own knowledge and how they feel about the situation in history in order to enrich your lessons. The Common Core Social Studies Standards encourage you to do this.

To find out more about and how to use the Common Core Social Studies Standards, click on the link here.



Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Shhhhh! It’s a secret! Creation of the Constitution PowerPoint and Lesson Plan

First I’d like to say thank you to all of you that purchased my products during the 20% off sale! I want to let you in on a little secret to say thank you. Two of my products that are listed on are more than what they seem. Don’t be scared off my the product descriptions warning you away from purchasing these items. They are decoys. In reality it actually has three PowerPoints and three differentiated instruction lesson plans! (Annapolis Convention, The Need for Compromise, and the Major Issues of the Constitutional Convention) Common Core standards are used too. This product will only be up until Jan. 2014. This is one benefit of subscribing to my blog. If you bought these items separately, it would cost you $19! But the Creation of the Constitution Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plan is only $4.00 and the PowerPoint is only $3.00! So you can SAVE $12.00 by getting in on this deal not to mention a bunch of time planning! Below are the links that will take you to these products and remember… shhhhh, it’s a secret!

Don’t miss out on the deal for three differentiated instruction lesson plans and PowerPoints! You can see what is in each lesson plan and PowerPoint by following these links:

Annapolis Convention differentiated instruction lesson plan and PowerPoint:

The Need for Compromise differentiated instruction lesson plan and PowerPoint:


Major Issues of the Constitutional Convention Differentiated Instruction lesson plan and PowerPoint

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico