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Reading & Writing in the Disciplines

Blended Learning: Purposeful Instruction

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Andrea Gambino Rhodes discusses the ways in which she chooses primary sources to frame her lesson to engage students, such as by using an infographic and selecting sources according to student strengths and interests.

Teacher: Andrea Gambino Rhodes

School: Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School, Raleigh, NC

Grade: 7

Discipline: History/Social Studies

Lesson Topic: Innovation in the Industrial Revolution and the impact of the Industrial Revolution on society

Lesson Month: November

Number of Students: 30

Featured Lesson’s Student Goals:

  • Content objectives – Understand in depth the Industrial Revolution and the innovations that have left a lasting impact on our world; understand the background of the Industrial Revolution and the impact that this period had on various social regimes
  • Literacy/language objectives – Read and annotate primary and secondary sources within a historical context and “think like a historian;” connect and respond to text while making real-world applications and connections to one’s own life
  • Engagement/interaction objectives – Connect and collaborate with peers as active problem solvers; consider the author’s purpose and the author’s bias toward or against the social implications of the Industrial Revolution

Standards Addressed:

North Carolina Essential Standards – Social Studies

  • 7.H.1
    Use historical thinking to analyze various modern societies.
  • 7.H.2
    Understand the implications of global interactions.

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2
    Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.9
    Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Instruction Details:

The Unit
The topic of this 15-day unit was industrialization. The unit was taught in November and was the fourth unit in the curriculum. It was preceded by units about the age of exploration and the age of colonization.

Before the Lesson
Prior to this lesson, Ms. Gambino Rhodes provided students with a background on industrialization and key vocabulary. Students analyzed the impact that the era had on the world today and did simulation activities to understand what life was like for factory workers during that time.

During the Lesson
Students began this lesson with a warm-up. Ms. Gambino Rhodes asked them to think about various innovations of the Industrial Revolution and what the positive and negative impacts were on society. In collaborative learning teams, students read and annotated primary and secondary sources about industrialization using the Web 2.0 tool Crocodoc (which allows for document sharing and collaborative annotation) and then discussed them. Each team used a different source (a text on the Lowell Mill Girls, the “Industrial Dream” song by Flocabulary, or photographs and images from the era) that shared a common thread to create a “digital jigsaw.” Teams reported out to the class on an important piece of information they learned that they thought other students should know.

After the Lesson
Students looked at industrialization’s social classes at a deeper level (e.g., students wanted to learn more about the Lowell Mill Girls). They did additional close readings of primary sources and interactive lessons from SAS Curriculum Pathways, an online educational resource. Students then did a closing project-based learning activity in which they reengineered an industrial-age product of their choice using the engineering design process and based on the central idea of “impact on society.” To end the unit, students answered the essential question: How did industrial innovation impact society during this area, and how does it still impact us today?

Teacher Prep
Ms. Gambino Rhodes spent time thinking about how to connect her students’ interests to the Industrial Revolution and talking with them about what they wanted to learn about the era. She relied on these ideas as she researched primary sources to identify those that she felt she could make relatable to 7th graders. Ms. Gambino Rhodes identified sources that had common, cohesive threads so that a link was feasible in the digital jigsaw, and so that students could have a collective understanding of how people were impacted by the era. She also planned how she would scaffold the lesson to reach struggling readers without stripping the content of its richness and depth.

Prior Knowledge
To participate in this lesson, students needed background information on the Industrial Revolution. Ms. Gambino Rhodes built context for students so that they could see the big picture—from the Industrial Revolution to the modern day—and taught key vocabulary words. She felt that having a solid understanding of the general ideas would allow students to really focus on the details of the primary sources that they were studying in this lesson.

Differentiated Instruction
Ms. Gambino Rhodes believes that her students’ learning comes alive when they can make connections to their own lives. She created groups and gathered resources based on the interests and passions of students (e.g., students who like music worked with the Flocabulary song lyrics). She used “hooks” to connect the present with the past (a “hook” is usually a brief video clip, quote, or image and then a posed question). Ms. Gambino Rhodes scaffolded primary sources by adding a vocabulary breakdown within each document. With some students, she scaffolded the steps of the lesson as a checklist of questions (e.g., Did you find your primary source? Have you annotated it? Did you answer the questions? Have you responded to it? Do you fully understand it?).

Group Interaction
Students began the lesson as a large group. Next, they focused on independent reading. They then moved into their small, interest-based collaborative learning teams to discuss the reading using guiding questions from a graphic organizer. Each small group worked on its piece of the digital jigsaw and, when complete, reported out to the full group. To manage group interaction and encourage collaboration, Ms. Gambino Rhodes seated students as table groups. She grouped kids by learning style/interest. Ms. Gambino Rhodes listened to group conversations and offered coaching when needed. During full-class discussions, she facilitated by continuously reminding students about how to be engaged when someone else is talking.

Resources and Tools

  • PowerPoint to provide visuals
  • Primary sources
  • Collaborative annotations on Crocodoc
  • A “hook” video from Flowcabulary to spark student interest and activate/review prior knowledge and previously taught concepts
  • Differentiated graphic organizers for each group (varied by content area)
    • Workers’ Petition
    • Manufacturer’s Philosophy
    • Lowell Mill Girls
    • “Industrial Dream” Lyrics
    • Images from the Industrial Revolution
  • Socrative – a Web 2.0 tool used to give the exit ticket
  • Infographic: 10 Technologies That Changed Our Lives and the Businesses That Were Left Behind


Formative Assessment
Ms. Gambino Rhodes assessed students formatively by their class discussion, the “Digital Jigsaw” graphic organizer that they completed in groups, and the annotations that they completed online on Crocodoc. She watched what students wrote down, listened to their conversations, observed body language, and coached along the way to see how deeply the students understood, engaged, and responded to the texts they were studying.

Student Self-Assessment 
Ms. Gambino Rhodes gave students a survey to find out what questions they still had, how they felt about annotating, how they felt they had performed in their group, and what they wanted to change about their group interaction in the future. She used this information to plan future lessons.

Summative Assessment
Ms. Gambino Rhodes had students complete an exit ticket using Socrative; this helped her understand what concepts she would need to reteach or revisit in subsequent lessons. She also used “progress checks”—teacher/student conferences to assess performance and gauge understanding—as exit discussions.

Impact of Assessment
The following day, Ms. Gambino Rhodes used information from the assessments to dig more deeply into the concepts that students were most interested in.

Series Directory

Reading & Writing in the Disciplines


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation. 2015.
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  • ISBN: 1-57680-906-4