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I Tried One Of Robert Krulwich’s Ideas In Class Today…


Yesterday, I posted NPR’s Robert Krulwich Provides Another Excellent Idea For A History Lesson. I didn’t try that idea out today, but tried another one that I had previously posted (“Let’s Play ‘History As A List’” Is A Fascinating Idea).

And, actually, I didn’t try it out precisely as I had described, either. Nevertheless, it went well, and here’s what I did.

We’re just finishing a unit on Reconstruction in my U.S. History class for Intermediate and Beginning English Language Learners. I had seven minutes left in class, and I asked students to simply list three words that represent Reconstruction, and then follow it with three sentences describing why they picked each word.

I did a quick model by doing one describing me — handsome, smart, strong (all to great hilarity).

Students grasped it quickly. Here’s a typical example of what they wrote:




I picked money because Congress used it to build schools.

I picked change because things were different after the Civil War.

I picked discrimination because the southern government made unfair laws for the blacks.

It worked as an easy formative assessment.

It wasn’t the “higher-order thinking” version that I discussed in my original post, but using it like this provides a good starting point.

For all I know, teachers may have been using this kind of exercise for years.  But it was new to me and, perhaps, new to some of this blog’s readers….

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Great idea. It might be nice to try this technique with some sample cloze sentences to encourage different sentence structures (e.g. I choose ________ since __________________. ). Just a thought.

  2. Pingback: Ideas for E.L.L.s | 'Gangnam Style,' Emotion Words and More -

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