Tools for delivering cross-subject lessons
I now work at Turnitin with an incredible team–many of whom are former educator–on tools like “Revision Assistant (RA), an online writing tool for modern classrooms that can be used in a variety of subjects. RA uses a sophisticated algorithm to provide students instant, relevant feedback on their writing. Teachers assign a standards-aligned reading excerpt with an ELA, social studies, or science focus. Students write a response to the text directly in RA and receive comments on specific sections of their essay, revise their piece, and strengthen their argumentative, analysis, narrative, or informative writing skills. With this tool, students take the writing process into their own hands, allowing the teacher to focus on content and skill-building across disciplines.
In 2013, after a three-year state-led collaborative effort, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) released The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, a comprehensive resource for states looking to upgrade their existing social studies standards. C3 is a multidisciplinary framework that includes civics, economics, geography, and history concepts aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and literacy in history and social studies. RA recently launched historical-analysis prompts and rubrics aligned to the C3 Framework and to disciplinary literacy standards in the Common Core. Using C3 as a springboard, educators can create project-based units and daily lessons that emphasize inquiry, analysis, and student collaboration–vital skills across all subject areas.
Big History Project (BHP), a new, online take on history and social studies instruction, offers free, standards-aligned and classroom-ready lessons that cover everything from The Big Bang and evolution to world trade routes and the exploration of deep space. Co-created by teachers, students, curriculum experts, and tech developers, BHP delivers videos, lesson plans, and hands-on student activities that empower students to investigate and discover history, not just read about it. The project has already demonstrated clear student gains in reading and writing, in addition to the acquisition of social studies and history content knowledge.
As education in America continues to evolve, it is important that the resources available to teachers reflect changing perspectives. “It’s no longer enough to simply work on comprehension,” says Smith. “Critical thinking through reading and writing instruction is essential to success in the classroom and beyond.”