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Tip of the Week – Five Great Teaching History Books

Ya gotta love the Teaching American History program. I’ve been working with a group of 42 middle school teachers for about a year and a half. Very cool. Lots of great conversation, sharing of ideas, and useful resources.

Part of what we do is encourage teachers to become history scholars – not just learning new history content but also new instructional strategies. And part of what we do is ask teachers to read a variety of books that provide handy teaching ideas.

So . . . here you go. Five of the books from the Century of Progress TAH project. It’s not the same as being a part of the 42 but if you read and apply this stuff, you’re getting pretty close.

America’s History Through Young Voices: Using Primary Sources in the K-12 Social Studies Classroom
America’s History through Young Voices combines an engaging selection of diaries, letters, and essays with thoughtful teaching strategies designed to meet the needs of both pre-service and in-service teachers. The book offers teachers both the content (primary sources) and skills (instructional activities) they’ll need to incorporate the use of first-person narrative in the classroom. Designed to help teachers foster active, engaged learning, this book conveys the immediacy of historical study through primary sources.

Reading Like an Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School History Classrooms
Reaching beyond textbooks, this is a guide to teaching ”historical reading” with middle and high school students. This practical resource shows you how to apply Sam Wineburg’s highly acclaimed approach to teaching, Reading Like a Historian, in your classroom to increase academic literacy and spark students’ curiosity. Each chapter begins with an introductory essay that sets the stage of a key moment in American history–beginning with exploration and colonization and the events at Jamestown and ending with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Following each essay are all the materials you’ll need to teach this topic–primary documents, charts, graphic organizers, visual images, and political cartoons–as well as suggestions for where to find additional resources on the Internet and guidance for assessing students’ understanding of core historical ideas.

Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer?: Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12
Every major measure of students’ historical understanding since 1917 has demonstrated that students do not retain, understand, or enjoy their school experiences with history. Author Bruce Lesh believes that this is due to the way we teach history—lecture and memorization. Over the last fifteen years, Bruce has refined a method of teaching history that mirrors the process used by historians, where students are taught to ask questions of evidence and develop historical explanations. And now in his new book “Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer?” he shows teachers how to successfully implement his methods in the classroom.

Making History Mine: Meaningful Connections for Grades 5-9
Middle school history teachers confront the same challenge every day: how to convey the breadth and depth of a curriculum that spans centuries, countries, and cultures. In Making History Mine, author Sarah Cooper shows teachers how to use thematic instruction to link skills to content knowledge. By combining thought-provoking activities and rich assessments, Sarah encourages teachers to challenge students to make history personal and relevant to their lives.

Social Studies Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites: 20 Instructional Strategies That Engage the Brain
Best-selling author Marcia L. Tate brings her trademark “dendrite-growing” teaching strategies to this collection of brain-compatible methods for engaging K–12 students in social studies.

Have fun!

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I hadn’t seen the Young Voices book. I look forward to checking it out.

    March 13, 2012
    • glennw #

      You really need to. A great book!


      March 13, 2012
  2. Hi, Is it me? Or you? I can’t seem to subscribe when I click the RSS feed for posts.

    March 24, 2012
    • glennw #


      It seems like a temporary problem with the server. When I first got your comment, I tried to access the RSS feed and it wasn’t working. But just tried it and it seems to fine now. Let me know if you are still having trouble on your end.

      Thanks for adding HistoryTech to your feed!


      March 24, 2012

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