The idea of asking students to create eye-catching, source-rich websites is appealing, writes history teacher Sarah Cooper. But are the two weeks spent learning the tech and developing content a good investment of class time? She reflects on both sides of the issue.
Category: Future of History
This fall Sarah Cooper is taking her usual current events unit in a fresh direction using a favorite strategy: layering news from today and yesterday. To demonstrate, Cooper draws on everything from suffragette “campaign” quotes to a John Oliver clickbait tirade.
How do we overcome the perception that history is boring? Connecting the past directly to students’ life experiences is a flawed strategy, history educator Lauren Brown believes. Teachers should focus less on “relevant” and more on “meaningful” and “interesting.”
Can history teachers apply Design Thinking ideas to a subject often taught as a progression of facts? Jody Passanisi thinks so. “What could be more relevant than looking for solutions to challenges that were created in the past and are still having impact today?”
Sarah Cooper’s spring U.S. history classes provided a dress rehearsal for the upcoming fall election season. Here are six classroom-tested strategies she plans to use during Constitution studies as her middle schoolers experience America’s often volatile political process first-hand.
After many years teaching high school & college students, Lauren Brown re-entered a middle school classroom last fall as a full-time social studies teacher. She describes her delight with young adolescents who greeted history with enthusiasm and deep discussions.
In Sarah Cooper’s never-ending effort to reach beyond textbook basics, she sometimes asks students to read a selection from a scholarly journal article or popular history book. Carefully sharing a JSTOR piece on Sherman’s March helped students grasp “total war.”
Jody Passanisi, an eighth grade teacher and author of “History Class Revisited,” uses a three-step scaffolding process to help students raise their awareness between events currently taking place and the historical events they study in the social studies curriculum.
Near the end of Sarah Cooper’s unit on the film Glory, she wondered what her 8th grade history students found most interesting. Read about the “silent conversation” she facilitated to help them replicate the authentic adult experience of “browsing history.”
Today’s history students need to include evaluation, analysis, and synthesis in writing assignments, going well beyond the traditional reporting of facts. Shara Peters and Jody Passanisi share their methods for helping students improve their writing skills.