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Skills and Best Practices

Activity 1: Skills and Best Practices

Interviewing

Interviewing skills are a critical component of learning history through oral history. Developing these skills in the early grades will be extremely useful to students as they study history and begin to use the community as a resource. Although this activity uses interviewing for a different purpose, the skills are the same.

The strategies discussed on this web site can be adapted for both purposes:http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/lessons/oralhist/ohguide.html

Before students are asked to go out into the community, they should review the information for:

  • Preparing for the interview
  • Conducting the interview
  • After the interview

Role Playing

It is clear that role-playing simulations can be very effective in helping participants gain a richer understanding of multiple perspectives and of the “codependent arising” of interdependent activity. By engaging in well-defined role-playing games participants seem to move beyond both of these common assumptions: the simplistic assumption of a “right/wrong” dichotomy in complex social problems, and the strong relativist position of “anybody’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.” They come to see also that logical reasoning and factual support do not always win the day, that pathos and ethos also play an important part in decision-making and problem-solving.

Within the framework of the game, participants have the opportunity to exercise creativity and imagination and to be playful in exploring possibilities. Yet there are consequences within the game world, which scaffolds activity and keeps it from becoming random meandering.

As this quote indicates, role-playing and simulations are extremely effective in providing students with a richer understanding and multiple perspectives of a given situation. In addition, the introduction to this site goes on to point out that the connection between role-play and writing is one that is well researched. The use of role-play improves student writing in the social studies classroom.

This site, http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/currents/spring02/syverson.html, provides information on:

  • The key components of a role-play situation
  • Computer enhancements for role-play situations
  • Outstanding scenarios for role-play situations and for summative assessments

Connections to Literature

The alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment is critical to school improvement. Teachers need to see that what they teach is related to other content areas and that the standards are interrelated. This site, http://edstandards.org/Standards.html, is one of many that provides this link to content standards in other content areas.