July 8, 2015

Resources for a GrowingRoots Core Knowledge Social Studies Unit

When I moved to a new state and was hired at a Core Knowledge school, I was thrilled. However, if you teach the CK curriculum then you'll appreciate my panic upon reviewing the VOLUME included in those social studies units. Although a classroom veteran, my first year in a CK school had me feeling like a newbie again. Fast forward five years; I'm really familiar with the content and have streamlined how I teach social studies. Moving from loose papers  and scattered ideas, I designed comprehensive and teacher-manual aligned student booklets (or in some cases "packages") for my social studies units.  It made my life easier and my teammates are fully on board. These units keep us focused and its so nice to have everything in one place.

I have many second and third grade Core Knowledge social studies units in my TpT store. Perhaps they can make your life easier too. Each is sold individually but you may want to check out the grade level bundles to save money.  

To implement these units you'll need these two resources.  Both are the social studies materials recommended on the CK site published by Pearson. 
Core Knowledge website

You will need the appropriate Teacher's Manual/Guide and the student text

I took the Teacher Guide out of the 3-ring binder. I've seen the student text in two formats - as individual student readers and bound together in a larger book. The text is the same. All the activities and information correlate with these. (A few units do have enrichment or additional materials. In those cases, I've created and included them.)

The second grade units are teacher-directed. Content delivery relies heavily on listening skills - those readers aren't too meaty. As the unit progresses I've found that 'retelling the story' using the reader as a memory jog is great. After a lot of modeling the kids love to take over! Much of the booklet is completed as a whole group. I always project my own copy and work along with them. Kids of all abilities need a model! Doing so shares correct information, proper spelling and, if someone is absent, it's an easy way to get caught up.
The third grade units are still teacher-directed but content delivery requires student reading. Do you find, like me, some concepts are rather abstract for an eight or nine year old? At times I know a few ideas can remain "muddy" at the end of some units, yet this is what I love about CK. They don't dumb it down. Instead they plant the seeds to support learning the following year. 

Given the varied ability of third grade readers, at the beginning of the year we do a lot of whole group reading and sometimes I pull the text into my Teacher Time/Guided Reading. This is ideal literacy/content area integration since you will teach students how to think and learn from their reading. This is followed by rereading the text with Read with Someone and Read to Self to practice fluency and comprehension. Last year I asked a parent volunteer to record the chapters so my kids have a Listen to Reading option as well.

As the year progresses, and kids become more independent readers, I modify my content delivery and pull back a bit, focusing on "who needs what" to be successful. Maybe some can handle it on their own. Maybe some need the support of a buddy. Some still need a lot of guidance. 

I still model the student booklet, but toward the end of the year most students are able to do a lot of the work in groups. Many of my third grade units have task cards requiring them to read the student text and complete work.  I often will ask a volunteer for support person to circulate around the room to answer questions or help troubleshoot. We come together as a group to share ideas and make adjustments as needed. 

Perhaps you've decided a complete CK unit is not for you..... that's ok. Check out these links. Inspired by the CK content, these are more generic and do not require CK resources.

Still have questions? My store's Q and A section is the perfect place to ask! Enjoy summer! 

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