OUTs: Opening Up the Textbook

  • Please note:  Grade level  “OUTs” are available in the drop down menu under each specific grade level.

What is an OUT?

OUT stands for Open up the Textbook. Textbooks often offer a single, linear, and detail-void narrative of history. In order to bring history alive and encourage critical historical thinking, teachers are encouraged to help students vivify, enlarge, complicate, and contest the textbook narrative with primary and secondary sources.  OUTs begin with a short section of the textbook and then require students to analyze and synthesize a variety of sources on the same topic by answering text-specific questions, grappling with complex Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary, discussing ideas with their peers, and engaging in a writing task based on textual evidence.

How might OUTs become a staple in your SS curriculum?

We encourage teachers to plan for social studies instruction using the Instructional Practice Guides available on www.acheivethecore.org.  Social studies instruction should include regular use of rich and complex, content-rich texts along with questions and tasks that are text-dependent and specific and which require students to tackle tough vocabulary and syntax. In addition, teachers should encourage students to engage in the historical thinking skills of sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading.  Most importantly, any social studies classroom should be discussion-rich and student-centered. The OUTs themselves should always be implemented with students in small, heterogeneous groups and student dialogue should center on the ways in which sources conflict or offer multiple perspectives. The OUTs are not worksheets. They represent opportunities for conversations about source bias and reliability, about point of view and diversity, and about ways to best evaluate and synthesize evidence.

Documents and Links to Strengthen Teacher Implementation: