109. Social Studies Curriculum Using the Identity Wheel with Dr. Lindsay WarrenRead Now
Listen to the episode by clicking the link to your preferred podcast platform below:
Dr. Warren’s philosophy of teaching is based on her educational experiences, starting with taking the AP test and realizing she didn’t know how to answer the questions about women. Her teacher said there wasn’t enough time. “[Teachers] have a lot of power to do good and also potential to do harm.”
The Big Dream
For all students to be seen. To get a more comprehensive history in front of students in an integrated, authentic way in which multiple identities and histories are woven throughout the entire course. “Not everyone is doing it in that authentic, holistic way. They’re doing it in a checkbox way. Maybe even our leadership is telling them to do it in a checkbox way.”
The dream is for us to sit with truth and sit with joy. We can learn about who the people are that are making change happen and how they’re doing that.
Alignment to the 4 Stages: Mindset, Pedagogy, Assessment, and Content
Dr. Warren and her colleagues developed a curriculum and presented it to students to see if it met their needs and wants. They created an identity wheel that considers access to structural power for each identity group, which has been a helpful tool for students to grapple with these ideas. The vast majority of teachers and students are able to use this well. It’s led to beautiful, nuanced conversations. It’s designed for teachers to be able to use it to their comfort level. For example, it may be used to explore the identities and access to power for an author of a text like Ida B. Wells.
The wheel works well to grapple with big essential questions like: Who is an American? Using primary sources to learn about U.S. History is a way to frame the conversation in truth and breaking down any myths students may have learned in younger grades.
A Thematic Approach
Teaching thematically has engaged Dr. Warren’s students through U.S. History I content, when the minutiae doesn’t feel very relevant to students. Each unit goes through the 100-year time period for the course (1820s-1920s) through different themes. Here are the themes Dr. Warren uses for U.S. I:
Unit Design Pieces
Start with Questions: Course-long Essential Questions, Unit-specific EQ, and Guiding Questions
Establish the historical context.
Lesson-Level (Skill-Building) Protocols Include:
Summative Assessment Example: Annotated Bibliography (common assessment) paired with a Student-Led Research Project
Mindset Shifts Required
Make it authentic to your style and your classroom.
Don’t allow your discomfort to get in the way of what your students need. We are adults. We will survive being sweaty.
Ask yourself: How can I make more of my students feel seen? What do they really need when they leave my classroom?
Ask your students: How do you learn best?
One Step to Get Started
Trust students with difficult things. Give students opportunities to reflect in writing and verbally.
You can find Dr. Warren on LinkedIn.
To help you design curriculum and instruction that centers historically marginalized identities, Dr. Warren is sharing her Identity Wheel with you for free. And, if you’re looking for more details on the ideas in this blog post, listen to episode 109 of the Time for Teachership podcast. If you’re unable to listen or you prefer to read the full episode, you can find the transcript here.
If you enjoyed this episode, check out my YouTube channel where I lead you through a series on unit design:
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.