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Teaching History Blog

What we don’t know about George Washington

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss as a class what the group knows about George Washington.
2. Brainstorm and build a list of facts from the prior knowledge of the group.
3. Research individually to find three unique facts different from the list the class created.
4. Share discovered information and sources with class.
5. Explore concepts of information literacy such as source evaluation and information accuracy.

Formative assignment

Students will access their prior knowledge on a topic, create a list with classmates of commonly known facts about that topic, and research the topic for new information to share with the class.

Assignment Description: There are a couple of goals with this assignment. The first is for students to recognize and access their prior knowledge about a subject. The second is to evaluate whether what they think they know is actually accurate about a topic. The third is to explore concepts of information literacy including source evaluation and fact substantiation. Students often have a broad understanding of a topic or prior knowledge they have collected over their life time in education and social media. The class will discuss this knowledge and then find new information on the topic to share with each other. Cognitively, this allows students to build connections with what they knew to what they learn from each other. This assignment could be done with any person, event, or significant historical place.

Steps and Instructor Notes:
1. As a class, students will initially brainstorm all the facts they know about George Washington. In an online forum, this could be done with many different types of technology such as a Google doc or discussion board.

2. Class will review the list and divide it between ideas they agree to be true or accurate and ideas that might be questionable.

3. Explore information literacy with class. Discuss effective source evaluation techniques and techniques for determining the accuracy of information in a source. For instance, do at least three sources have the same fact? Here is one resource to help instructors get started: http://novemberlearning.com/resources/information-literacy-resources/

4. Students will then research the topic searching for a minimum of three facts either not on the lists or one that proves the questionable list as accurate or not.

5. Students will share the facts they discovered in their research, the sources they used to find that information, and how they evaluated those sources and their accuracy.

6. Students will compose a grammatically sound and well organized document with all the information listed in step 5 and include proper citation for each source.

Rubric is based on 100 points total but it is likely this assignment would take several days and is very dependent on participation which could be evaluated many different ways.
10 points-Student actively brainstormed prior knowledge with classmates.
10 points-Student actively participated in discussion to divide prior knowledge into two lists.
30 points-Student found and shared with class mates three new facts, the resources used, and how they evaluated those.
50 points- Student composed a grammatically sound and well organized document with the facts they discovered in their research, the sources they used to find that information, and how they evaluated those sources and their accuracy. Student also properly cited each source.

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