We have been studying the intersection of Business and American History. In studying that we did a number of activities that looked at the New Deal policies of FDR, how the business plans of the GOP candidates compared to the presidents of 1900-1932, how the monopoly and trust-busting of Teddy Roosevelt impacted the economy, and more… We located primary sources, observed the State of the Union, visited the campaign websites for the GOP candidates and more. With these artifacts of learning, I then posed to the students that they needed to demonstrate their learning by answering one of the Grade 11 Essential Questions:

    • What causes systemic and individual change?
    • What is the role of the individual in creating and sustaining change?
    • What is the relationship between the self and a changing world?

Then they use the learning artifacts from the unit to explore an answer.  They can choose to work independently or with a partner and are given two-65 min. class periods to work.  At the end there should be a ‘deliverable’ that demonstrates their understanding.

While not a typical incarnation of inquiry, in that I waited until the end of the unit to introduce the big question, the goal is to apply their learning and create from that information.  Students are questioning the sources they located in pursuit of demonstrating understanding of the link between content and the essential questions.  There are no right answers, only the answers they co-create with their partners and demonstrate through a self-determined presentation format.  Often the evidence of learning is a test in history class, but at the end of this unit students are specifically asked to make meaning of their learning artifacts by applying it to a grade-wide essential question.  At the end of the week, I was able to see how they understood the information as it relates to systemic and individual change.  The skills this approach reinforces – critical thinking, collaboration, presentation, design, inquiry and reflection – are what I consider a large part of what makes a student viable in an ever changing learning landscape.  Most importantly, this was a part of the conversation in a year long investigation of history, rather than a stopping point in the learning.

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