July 10, 2019
Like many teachers, I’m confident that I have been called a variety names by my darling students. One of my favorites has been Mrs. Persig.
To PERSIG something is to think critically about the material, to form connections, to answer questions, and to pose new ones. I primarily use PERSIG when teaching current events. PERSIG is an acronym: Political, Economic, Religious, Social, Intellectual, and Geographic. Teaching students to PERSIG is teaching them to actively consider each of the ways a current event can affect us and to identify the ways in which each PERSIG category interacts with the others. As an added bonus, any PERSIG assignment is easily differentiated for a variety of student learning styles and levels and allows parents to play a role. Allow me to illustrate. After spending some time teaching the PERSIG categories, I’ll assign students to watch the news or read a news article and to PERSIG it, identifying which of the categories apply and how. Students also need to identify connections that may be formed between categories. For example, students quickly realize that many global issues that are political are often also economic in some way, and that economic issues can often become social issues (those issues that affect large groups of people). “Wait! We vote on who is making these laws! Does this mean we are in charge of the politics and economics we see in the news?!” It’s the aha moments where minds are blown. Bells ring and we don’t want to stop because we’re deep in conversation about current events!
I began using PERSIG during my student teaching. It’s been tweaked and adjusted many times over the years and is of course modified for each grade level I have taught. One thing I find especially fantastic about PERISG is that is easily adaptable to meet students’ needs. One way in which you can easily differentiate PERSIG is by using colored stickers or stamps. With any given PERSIG assignment, (typically accompanied by a handout) simply color-code each type of assignment.
For whatever reason, I tend to start with a traffic light color system, assigning yellow “Draw and label a picture properly PERSIG-ing the assigned global issue.” Green would then be something like, “Write a minimum of six bulleted statements properly PERSIG-ing the assigned global issue.” Red would be a written assignment, “Write a strong paragraph properly PERSIG-ing the assigned global issue.” Then we can go above and beyond with purple and black, these are the students needing a bit more of a challenge. “Identify and evaluate the connections between PERSIG categories” and of course “State and defend your opinion on an issue citing proper PERSIG categories within your writing.”
An ever-popular extension to a PERSIG assignment is to “Teach your parents to PERSIG, do you agree on PERSIG-ing this current event?” It’s always fun to mix it up a bit and throw a yellow and green stamp on a handout for a student who is typically a purple or black. Also, it’s wise to remember not to post your color-coding scale for all to see, in my classroom you know what your color is requiring for a given assignment and that’s all you need to know. Everyone’s assignment is their business and their choice to share outside of class time if they wish. On to the parents, the ever-important parent-element of teaching! PERSIG has proven to be parent approved again and again. Most parents also approve of the color-coding differentiation, as long as their child isn’t overly issued the same color. I’ve had parents explain that they PERSIG at dinner and on road trips. It was, in fact, a parent that gave me the name Mrs. PERSIG. After an exhausting yet fulfilling day of parent-teacher conferences, a parent walked up to me with a warm greeting, “Oh, hello Mrs. PERSIG!”
Meaghan Sloup is a passionate educator with over 15 years of experience teaching middle and high school social studies. She has created curriculum resources for publishing companies and taught ESL to elementary students. Most recently she has built curriculum around the launch of a social entrepreneur program. Meaghan considers education not only her career choice but her lifestyle.
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