Merging Historical Literacy Instruction with an Understanding by Design Framework
Jones, Garrett N.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Professional Studies
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An examination of practices in secondary history education reveals widespread use of content-coverage curriculum models despite a solid body of literature supporting use of a curricular approach designed to teach for conceptual understanding. Further examination also uncovers misunderstanding about what it means to include literacy instruction in the social studies curriculum, which leads to a reluctance among secondary teachers to include literacy instruction in their social studies classes. This study explores the potential of a curriculum that integrates historical literacy instructional strategies in a concept-based curriculum model. Using the Understanding by Design framework, a curriculum unit was designed around three core enduring understandings and four disciplinary skills. Students in the study participated in three different, but related classrooms strategies to develop historical literacy skills while focusing on conceptual learning goals. Students also completed surveys and metacognitive assessments to share their perceptions of the impact of the strategies on their learning. Analysis of this data was done by evaluating the depth of understanding evident in student work in all three strategies, especially the unit core performance assessment task. Findings suggest that historical literacy taught within the context of a concept focused curriculum produces far deeper understanding than approaches that emphasize content coverage or do not purposefully direct literacy activities toward conceptual understanding. Other impacts of the curriculum model and disciplinary literacy strategies on student understanding are discussed, along with implications for future research and classroom application.