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Extended Learning Opportunities

The Purpose:

The purpose of my extended learning opportunities is to give students a structured and

guided way to further explore their areas of interest. It is an unfortunate reality that there is not

nearly enough time during class to fully explore all of the fascinating and incredible stories,

events and people in history and it is not possible for me to tailor my curriculum to all of the

specific interests of every single student in my classes. Extended learning opportunities help

bridge some of that inevitable gap between what we are able to cover in class and what would

fully satiate my students natural curiosity. Extended learning also helps students build

independent research, writing and learning skills and encourages them to learn for the sake of

learning, not just for the sake of school. In turn, these skills and encouragement push my

students to become life-long learners. The extended learning opportunities also help me

differentiate my instruction by challenging high-performing students to go beyond the traditional

scope of my curriculum. Anytime students finish in-class tasks early, they are encouraged to

work on extended learning assignments with their spare time. Finally, the extended learning

opportunities also give students complete control over- and therefore, complete responsibility

for- their overall quarter and semester grades. By offering credit for the additional effort required

by the extended learning assignments, I offer students the chance to get whatever final grade they

desire as long as they are willing to work for it.

The Assignments:

Extended Learning- Research: The extended learning research assignments focus on exploring

historical topics, events or people we are unable to cover in-depth during class. When students

come across something that piques their interest but we do not fully discuss in class, they can

research the topic and fill out the Extended Learning- Research form for extra credit points.

Students that briefly present the results of their research to the class receive further additional

credit. Students can pick any topic they wish, related to our current unit or otherwise, as long as

it is not a topic we covered closely in class or in the course of their usual assignments (since the

goal is to extend learning beyond what we have already covered). I provide a small bank of

topics and corresponding sources related to each of our units for students that finish in-class

assignments early or students who lack easy access to sources at home.

Extended Learning- Position Paper: The extended learning position paper assignment challenges

students to practice and improve the most important task in my curriculum: making convincing

evidence-based arguments. Students write an essay making an argument about a historical topic

of debate and back up their argument with textual evidence and supporting commentary.

Students can chose their own debate topic with my approval or can chose from a bank of

possible topics provided during each unit. Again, students receive additional extra credit if they

briefly present their argument to the class.

Mr. Smith was WRONG!!!: A central goal of my curriculum is to push students to analyze the

strengths, weaknesses and bias of their sources. The Mr. Smith was WRONG!!! extended

learning opportunity encourages students to think critically about all of the information they

receive, including the information from me. It also provides another opportunity for students to
practice researching and supporting arguments with evidence and commentary. Anytime a

student feels I have made an incorrect or unsupported claim in class or in any material I provide

to the students (including quizzes and tests), they can fill out a Mr. Smith was WRONG!!!

form. The form requires that students make a counter-claim (great practice for writing thesis

statements) and then support their claim with textual evidence and commentary. Students can

receive extra credit for a thoughtfully filled-out form (even if my original claim was more

accurate or better supported than their counter-claim) and once again, they can receive additional

credit for presenting their counter-claim to the class. Regardless of whether the student wishes to

present their counter-claim themselves, I will be sure to address the disputed point with the class,

especially when it involves common misconceptions or mistakes/bias of my own.