Active Learning in Social Studies, part 1

07 Feb

This post is part of a series of five Active Learning (formative assessment) strategies that allow students to collaborate, participate, assess, document, present and personalize their workspace and their learning.

Clarifying, Sharing and Understanding Learning Intentions

Learning intentions should focus on:

  • a concept/skill from the Program of Studies that is important for students to know, understand and be able to apply.

  • what teachers want students to learn, not just what they will do. The role of the teacher is to ensure students are aware of what they need to know, understand and be able to demonstrate by the end of the lesson in student-friendly language.

Gathering evidence:

1. Student exemplars

– provide work samples for previous classes

– engage in a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the samples

– compare to a rubric to assist students to understand levels of performance

– modeling is an important part of this process

– determine grade level of skill development in Social Studies (example)

2. Exit/Entrance passes

– respond via post-it note, index card, Socrative, PollEverywhere, Smart Notebook Extreme Collaboration, Remind101

– teacher reviews info and makes a decisions to either move on or review a (part of a) concept

– General Prompts include:

Give three examples of how ____________ contributed to the situation.

What is wrong with this statement? (Provide a false statement with at least three details.)

What might happen if _____________?

What criteria would you use to judge/evaluate this event?

What evidence supports _____________?

How is ____________ similar to/different from ______________?

How might this be viewed from the perspective of ____________?

What three related details can you add to this?

– Topic prompt:

The important thing about ________

– Learning:

What you must know to leave. Be specific with examples!

Today I learned _____________, it is important because ____________.

So What? (relevancy, importance, usefulness)

3-2-1….3 key ideas, 2 questions, 1 thing I want to learn more about/don’t understand.

3. Connect to the learning intention

– clear learning intention and regular connections made by the teacher (on notes, website, whiteboard, smartboard…) students are more likely to make connections to application in the real world

– students can refer back to what they are supposed to be learning, think about how the task is helping them and consider whether they need to continue to work in this area or if they understand and can move on

4. Rubrics

– discussions with students about criteria on a rubric is beneficial in focusing them on what is important and what will be measured.

– students develop deeper understanding of the level of performance they may be working at and have a clearer picture of what to do to move to the next level

– resources: Building Better Rubrics, Creating Credible Criteria from AAC


Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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