Skip to main content

We all love SHEG. Now their Civic Online Reasoning tools make it easier to love them even more

Civic Online Reasoning logo

(Image credit: Glenn Wiebe)

I’m starting to get the feeling that we’ve reached critical mass. When I work with social studies teachers around the country, I always make sure they’re familiar with the work by Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (opens in new tab).

SHEG’s Reading Like a Historian lessons (opens in new tab) and Beyond the Bubble assessments (opens in new tab) are the kinds of non-negotiable tools that belong in every teacher’s toolkit. But for the longest time, it seemed as if very few teachers had actually heard about the SHEG site. Of course, as soon as these teachers had the chance to explore the available tools, they were blown away.

Lately I’ve run into more and more teachers who are already familiar with the site and are finding very cool ways of integrating SHEG resources into their instruction. Maybe we’ve reached the point where most teachers have heard about the SHEG goodness and we all love it. (If you’re still not sure what sorts of SHEG lessons and assessments are available, for Pete’s sake, stop reading and head over to check it out.)

If you are using SHEG resources, I feel a little like a TV infomercial host this morning when I say, “but wait . . . there’s more.”

Because SHEG has some new stuff.

Several years ago, SHEG added what they called Civic Online Reasoning tools. But it was a bit understated. This fall?

They’ve gone full blown into supporting both lessons and assessments that you can use to help kids make sense of online information. Their new COR site (opens in new tab) has been re-organized and repackaged, they’ve added to new tools and resources, and they’re sharing the research that supports their work.

On the new site, SHEG founder Sam Wineburg posted a great article titled “What’s at Stake.” (opens in new tab) Based a bit on his latest book, Why Study History (When It’s Already on Your Phone,) (opens in new tab) the article lays out the reasons why these new SHEG resources are so important. Simply put, Wineburg claims that our democracy is at stake.

University of Connecticut professor Michael Lynch calls the internet “both the world’s best fact checker and the world’s best bias confirmer – often at the same time.”

I’ve come to believe that reliable information is to civic health what clean water and proper sanitation are to public health. Never has so much information been at our fingertips as it is today. Whether this bounty will make us smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded will depend on one thing: our educational response to this challenge.

Their short video clip also lays out some of the great reasons why we should all be checking out these new tools:

The curriculum is broken into lessons, assessments, and what SHEG is calling collections. At first, it might be a bit confusing finding what you need. But keep at it – all of the tools are based on strategies they’ve identified when observing fact checkers from the nation’s most prestigious news organizations. The curriculum is the “fruit of years of research and field-testing.” Their work is enriched by their ongoing collaboration with the Poynter Institute and participation in the MediaWise initiative.

The cool thing about all of the resources (not just the COR tools) created by SHEG is that they’ve been tested in real classrooms. I love that the stuff I’m getting has been vetted by actual teachers who’ve used these things with kids.

All of the work is based on three questions:

Three questions to assess resources

(Image credit: Glenn Wiebe)

The best way to find what you’re looking for is to simply click on one of the three questions. This takes you directly to that section of tools for quick and easy access.

Lessons & Assessments tab

(Image credit: Glenn Wiebe)

You can also click the Curriculum tab, then Lessons & Assessments, and finally the List button on the right hand side. This gives you all of the resources in scrollable and viewable format. You also have the option to use a keyword search but . . . until you’ve played with the site a bit, you’re probably not really sure what to search for.

A great example of the kinds of things your kids will learn through COR is the ability to evaluate photos with reverse image search (opens in new tab). Photographs and other images circulate rapidly online and are often gripping, persuasive forms of evidence. It is difficult to tell if these images accurately depict what their posters claim they do, and it is often tempting to take these images at face value. If we trust images without verifying their accuracy, we risk believing false claims and narratives. This lesson helps you train your kids to be better at discovering origins of images they experience online. And every lesson and assessment comes with a student video and teaching materials that are available for download.

(Image credit: Glenn Wiebe)

But no matter how you find and use what you need, this is a valuable third leg of the SHEG stool. History lessons. History assessments. And now civic online reasoning tools.

Because Sam is right. Training our kids to make sense of evidence and to use it appropriately is too important to leave to hit and miss.

cross posted at

Glenn Wiebe is an education and technology consultant with 15 years' experience teaching history and social studies. He is a curriculum consultant for ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas, blogs frequently at History Tech and maintains Social Studies Central, a repository of resources targeted at K-12 educators. Visit to learn more about his speaking and presentation on education technology, innovative instruction and social studies.