We love hearing about TCI in action! This past December, Wisconsin teacher Katie David was featured in an article about the implementation of TCI’s Pursuing American Ideals Program. We were so impressed, we asked Katie to tell us more.
What initially drew you to TCI? What jumped out at you about the program that was different from the way you taught before?
I was especially excited about the primary sources built into the programs. I used to spend a lot of time working to integrate primary sources into my lessons. I still include my own supplemental materials, but now my students always have access to the primary sources TCI built into the program for me.
The program layout is also important, especially how the chapters can be taught either as discrete lessons or together in units. There is never time to teach everything in the textbook, but the way TCI is organized makes it easier to pick and choose.
I’m a believer in projects. I like my students to demonstrate their understanding with them, and TCI has made projects streamlined and easy for me. Each lesson ends with a processing activity that asks students to use a variety of different skills–from drawing maps to writing songs–which allow me to differentiate instruction and test multiple intelligences without constantly inventing new projects.
What do your students like best about the program?
My students love the lessons that get them out of their chairs, especially the activities that have them take on a role – immigrant, muckraker, etc.They also love the placards; they feel transported in time and the materials are a tangible way of accessing the historical ideas we discuss in class. Sometimes they struggle (in a good way!) to comprehend the primary source material, but ultimately my students love the capacity to show off what they learned in the end.
Do you have a favorite lesson or activity thus far?
Absolutely! It would have to be Chapter Fifteen, Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience. I used the introduction in the materials and it resonated with my students more than I could have hoped. Immigrants (my students) lined up to enter Ellis Island (my classroom), and had to pass inspections before they could enter the country. I asked the Spanish teacher to conduct medical exams in Spanish, and my students expressed real frustration when they could not understand her directions.
Since that lesson, whenever we talk about the immigrant experience (in a historical or modern context) my students are much more empathetic toward immigrants. They talk about this lesson constantly, even though I taught it back in first quarter – I think it will be their favorite memory of 9th grade social studies.
How does TCI help enrich your experience as a teacher?
Like my students, I love the activities that have them moving around and looking at authentic sources. In fact, I was going to skip some chapters with similar lessons that were not central to my curriculum, but I enjoy teaching them so much I included them anyways.
My students always know what to expect from the lesson structure and the processing activities allow different students to show their strengths. I have more work to do linking back to that essential question at each step of a lesson, but as I get more familiar with the textbook, I think it will be really beneficial for the students. The program also allows me to do assessment outside of standard testing, as I feel that the activities are more reflective of their learning than an exam would be.
I have not utilized many of the online features yet due to my students’ irregular access to computers. As our district grows less reliant on paper-based assessments, however, I think they will be more relevant to my teaching style.
Thank you for your wonderful responses, Katie!