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High School — Social Studies
Social Studies Skills and Methods

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    Social Studies Skills and Methods

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      Activities: Additional Instruction and Practice

      These activities may be useful for students who require additional instruction and practice with Social Studies Skills and Methods.

      Strengthen a Weak Thesis

      Create and present weak thesis statements for student evaluation. Discuss what makes these thesis statements weak. Students can create stronger thesis statements and identify specific supporting data. Have students organize their thinking with the following sample chart:

      Weak Thesis Statement Stronger Thesis Statement Possible supporting evidence Specific data to serve as supporting evidence
      Students should take more art and music classes. Students who take art and music classes are happier, more academically successful students. Students who take art and music classes receive higher grades than those who do not.In a study of 60 graduating high school seniors, students who participate in 3-4 hours of art and music per week achieve grade point averages of 2-3 points higher than those who do not.
      Practice Refuting a Thesis

      Help students look critically at position statements and understand that just as they are called upon to defend thesis statements, they may also be called upon to refute them. To refute a thesis, a writer might either find "holes" in the argument presented (point out ways that the thesis is unsupported or untrue), or prepare and present a counterargument (develop evidence that proves an alternative position).

      First, prepare position statements for students to critique. Next, ask students to evaluate the position being made in each statement. Is the statement vague and dubious, or is it specific and credible? If it is not a strong thesis statement, have students explain why not. Students can next determine what position they must take to refute the thesis statement.

      Finally, have students prepare evidence to support a counter position. Remind them to respond to the initial thesis statement and develop evidence in presenting their position. For example:

      Thesis: The United States took appropriate action when it ordered the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

      Counter argument:

      Evidence to support this position:

      Evaluate the Credibility of Sources

      Present students with a variety of sources on the same topic. Review with them the criteria for evaluating a source's credibility. Your criteria might include:

      • Qualifications and reputation of the writer;
      • Agreement with other credible sources;
      • Avoidance of stereotypes;
      • Accuracy and consistency of sources.

      Create a rubric for evaluating each source for each of the criteria listed. Students can assign each source a value or rank on a scale of one through five with "five" being most credible and "one" being least credible. The rubric might look like this:

      SourceQualifications and reputation of the writerAgreement with other credible sourcesAvoidance of stereotypesAccuracy and consistency of sources
       (1-5)(1-5)(1-5)(1-5)

      Students can reflect on their rubric and determine:

      • Which sources seemed the most credible? Why?
      • Which sources seemed the least credible? Why?
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