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ERIC Number: EJ1043146
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
The Makah Whale Hunt: A Social Studies Symposium in the Classroom
Bornstein-Grove, Matthew; Hamel, Fred L.
Social Education, v77 n4 p201-205 Sep 2013
The conversation starts quickly as two students come together in a 10th grade social studies classroom, half-way through a role play activity a symposium begins. Both students are sporting "Hello, my name is…" stickers on their shirts, and each attempts to speak in character. One represents an anti-whaling activist. Helen stands holding a notebook with a role card on top and is gesticulating as she talks. Her conversation partner, Steven, sits in a chair holding a card that describes his role as a whaler who participated in the Makah tribe's controversial whale hunt in 1999 in Washington State. He listens reservedly as Helen gets right to her argument. The conversation draws upon direct historical information, as well as the students' own paraphrases, ideas, and assumptions. This particular conversation touches on the current of racism in the Makah whaling controversy. Role cards have been calibrated to bring up the controversy's multiple facets (environmental, cultural, economic, historical) so they can be investigated more deeply as the unit proceeds. As conversations continue, students stand between tables--interviewing each other, attempting to speak and respond in character, taking notes. The teacher observes, strolling through the classroom, taking mental or written notes of misconceptions, as well as particularly successful conversation behaviors (question-asking, staying in character, improvising). This type of symposium aims to help students find a rich balance between content knowledge, conceptual understanding, and purposeful dialogue. Yet, finding such balance is especially difficult in social studies, where, as Walter Parker argues, students often "get loads of background but experience no foreground, no laboratory in which the background becomes background." The authors' goal in this article is to describe their symposiums as an instructional practice that conceives declarative and procedural knowledge as one thing and to share our efforts to refine this dialogue-oriented teaching practice. They provide a description of two key areas for teacher thinking and planning--first, developing materials, and second, supporting student interactions. Their approach in these areas has evolved over time, as they describe in this paper.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 10; Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A