Guest Teacher Post: Developing Critical-Thinking Skills with Adaptive Lessons

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Editor's Note: Justin Allar teaches social studies at Clay-Battelle Middle/High School in Blackville, West Virginia. In this guest post, he describes how Curriculum Pathways resources meet the critical-thinking needs of his social studies students. This is the second in a series of blog posts written by West Virginia educators sharing how they have integrated digital content in their classrooms. This series is part of a larger collaboration between Curriculum Pathways and SETDA, one that includes this October 2017 webinar.

I've used Curriculum Pathways lessons for many years -- in middle school, high school, and Advanced Placement social studies classes -- and my students find the resources fun and engaging. I particularly like how teachers can adapt a lesson to fit what we want the kids to learn. The technology serves my needs; it doesn't force me to conform to some pre-set pattern.

Especially important is how Curriculum Pathways resources develop critical-thinking skills and make my social studies classroom come alive. In the document analyzer series, for example, students learn about historical issues through video clips and then analyze primary-source documents related to these kinds of focus questions: Should Congress pass the Indian Removal Act of 1830? and Should President Johnson increase the United States' troop commitment to South Vietnam in 1965?

Johnson and the Vietnam War explores America's growing involvement in the conflict to answer this question: Should President Johnson increase the United States' troop commitment to South Vietnam in 1965?

Teachers can easily tailor all lessons to their specific needs and goals. I may have one class that watches the movie clips and fills in the movie notes and another that watches the movies and then goes into detail analyzing the primary-source documents. Curriculum Pathways allows so many layers to my instruction.

I love the lessons that provide interactive practice activities before quizzing students on their knowledge. I especially like the interactive activities that then force students to think about material they have just learned and apply it to a hypothetical situation.

As teachers, we are always strapped for time. These activities were built with that challenge in mind: they come ready to implement. As an added bonus, the ones with practice and quiz sections grade the material for you.

I cannot speak highly enough about this site. I integrate these lessons into my classroom almost every week.

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About Author

LeeEllen Harmer

Sr Account Executive

SAS’ CEO Dr. Jim Goodnight made Curriculum Pathways available at no cost to the nation’s educators in 2008 and committed SAS to continued support, enhancement and expansion of the web-based curriculum resources. It became Lee Ellen Harmer’s sole focus to promote the use of Curriculum Pathways in US schools…and it is now in use in thousands of schools in all 50 states.
Lee Ellen originally joined SAS in 2008 to sell Curriculum Pathways, but has also managed sales of traditional SAS software for teaching and research in higher education. Much of her career has been in sales and marketing to the Education industry, including experience in enterprise software sales to the industry for Red Hat (a vendor of Linux and open source technology). She also has a strong background in IT, with prior experience at US Airways.
Lee Ellen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a marketing concentration from Wake Forest University (Winston Salem, NC).

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