The Choices Blog

History and Current Issues for the Classroom

Tag: teaching strategies

Podcast: Histories that Inspire

In this “Inside the Writers’ Room” podcast, Lindsay Turchan and I talk with James N. Green, the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Professor of Latin American History at Brown University and the director of Brown’s Brazil Initiative. In this episode, we discuss the use of individual stories to illuminate the teaching of history. Green says:

“Individual stories help people understand larger social processes…it humanizes them.”

The podcast examines the value of using these stories to deepen student engagement while strengthening  the skills necessary for good historical inquiry. Green also talks about how this approach inspired one of his students, Marga Kempner, to make a movie about the experiences of Marcos Arruda and his family during the Brazilian military dictatorship. The movie is featured in  “Repression and Resistance During Military Rule,” a lesson in the Choices curriculum, Brazil: A History of Change.  This powerful film is available online and can be viewed here as well.

Green is also one of the featured presenters at a Choices professional development conference, “Brazil, Cuba, Mexico: Bringing Latin America Into the Classroom” from June 29-20 at Brown.

Modifying Choices Materials for all Students

By Richard McNeil, Special Education Teacher, Massapequa High School, NY

Why Choices?

In my eternal search for the perfect combination of informational and awesome, I found the Choices Program: a resource that covers U.S. History, Global History, and current events, utilizing many different perspectives, mediums, and opportunities to help students become active citizens. I could not pass this up. This could easily turn into a blog post about my love of The Choices Program. But I digress. In my special educator mind I realized that I could not hand this material over to my students without some modification. As a special educator it is my job to give students in my classroom the same opportunities as general education students. Through the years they have ranged in age from 12 to 21 years old and have had at least one of the disabilities listed under IDEA; many have had multiple disabilities. By opportunities I mean access to quality, rigorous content that will help to prepare my students for not just college but life as a local, national, and global citizen.

Modifications

How do I modify? The first thing I do is make a template that includes the Choices logo. I try to match the look as best I can. Choices deserve the recognition, and let’s not forget this is copyrighted material. Once my template is complete I begin to add the rich content to a graphic organizer. There are usually three columns: 1st column is the readings, 2nd is definitions, and 3rd are questions.

I try to keep the readings as intact as possible. However, if necessary one can simplify words, paraphrase paragraphs, or simply cherry pick specific sections of the text.

I then bold difficult or more advanced vocabulary. The number of terms I bold depends on the student, grade level, or the population of the class. You may also include the definition or have the students write it.

The Choices questions are placed in the third column. If there are no questions I will create them according to the text. In addition, the students are always assigned the task of creating their own questions.

If you want to expose your students in a special education classroom settings to the Choices materials you must modify. The exact modifications that you can make will change with student population, course type, and of course your own personal teaching style.

Modification Breakdown

  • Create a template.
  • Insert and modify readings.
  • Bold, Underline, Highlight key or difficult terms.
  • List vocabulary with or without definitions.
  • List the Choices/Teacher/Student questions.

See Richards Modification to Iran Through the Looking Glass: History, Reform, and Revolution. Read more about this unit at choices.edu/iran.

 

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