Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reading, Writing, and Thinking Historically

Looking for creative ways to teach your students the art of historical thinking? Historical Thinking Matters, a collaborative interdisciplinary project co-headed by George Mason University and Stanford University, has some phenomenal online resources available.

Their Approach:

"Historical Thinking Matters provides high school students with a framework that teaches them to read documents like historians. Using these "habits of mind," they will be able to interrogate historical sources and use them to form reasoned conclusions about the past. Equally important, they will become critical users of the vast historical archives on the web. Historical Thinking Matters equips students to navigate the uncharted waters of the World Wide Web. The site is the winner of the American Historical Association's 2008 James Harvey Robinson Prize for an Outstanding Teaching Aid."

Their Resources:

WHY HISTORICAL THINKING MATTERS introduces the site's approach by exploring conflicting first-hand accounts of the 1775 Lexington Green skirmish.

STUDENT INVESTIGATIONS focuses on five central topics from the post-Civil War U.S. history curriculum. Each investigation includes:

  • An introductory movie framing a question of historical debate;
  • Ten historical sources;
  • Guided questioning that fosters historical thinking skills such as sourcing, contextualization, close reading, and corroboration;
  • Text annotations and audio and video clips that provide additional commentary;
  • An assignment that asks students to respond to the investigative question by drawing on their previous engagement with the sources;
  • Directed explorations of virtual archives.

TEACHER MATERIALS offers instructors, pre-service teachers and teacher-educators classroom materials and strategies, examples of student and teacher work, and supplementary resources.

* Interested in reading more about this topic? The NHEC has a research brief titled Using Primary Sources to Teach Both Story and Skills that you might also find useful.

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