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What does historical thinking look like?

Mmm . . . I get this a lot. Especially over the last few months as we’ve rolled out the new proposed social studies standards document for Kansas.

The current document is all about content – with specific indicators that must be taught because they will be on the state-level multiple choice test. And we’ve done a great job over the last decade or so of training our teachers to only worry about whether or not their kids have memorized the tested indicators. The pendulum swung way over to foundational knowledge at the expense of critical thinking.

Since beginning its work, the writing committee for the proposed standards has concentrated on creating a document that balances out the need for foundational knowledge with the need for historical thinking skills. You can’t have one without the other.

But because the system has been so focused on specific historical data points, many teachers – especially the ones that have entered the classroom in the last five or six years – are struggling with the idea of what this historical thinking stuff looks like.

I’ve shared some ideas about this before but the pendulum is swinging back. There are more and more very good resources springing up around the Interwebs that can help. So to help anyone who is looking for some examples of what historical thinking looks like, check out these sweet resources:

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Karen Kimrey #

    Glenn, Could you provide information on the poster shown in the upper left corner of your post? Would love to have this in my classroom!

    Thanks! Karen Kimrey Rolesville Middle School 4700 Burlington Mills Road Rolesville, NC

    March 26, 2013
  2. This is great Glenn – thanks! Just FYI, your “This series of interactive activities” link seems to be broken.

    March 27, 2013
    • glennw #


      Thanks for the comment and the heads up on the broken link. Got in a hurry during the cut and paste stage!


      March 27, 2013
  3. This is good stuff, Glenn. Many helpful activities and resources for teachers. Thanks for sharing!

    November 15, 2014

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