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10 sites for thinking, learning historically

It’s a double bonus type of day.

First, today is one of the last days of our Century of Progress Teaching American History project. So I get to spend all day with 41 middle school teachers and we talk about nothing except history stuff.

Today’s history stuff?

Chinese immigration during the late 1800s. And we’re tying in history content conversations with Joel Breakstone of the Stanford History Education Group. He’s sharing with us how to create lesson plans designed to train kids to think historically. There’s been some very helpful theoretical sorts of stuff focusing on historical thinking but also very practical suggestions about what a great lesson should look like.

Second, yesterday the Kansas Board of Education voted 9-0 to approve the proposed social studies standards. Some of us have been working on these for the last 20 months and to have them accepted for full implementation is pretty sweet.

Such a cool day! It’s like the perfect storm. New standards that focus on high level historical thinking skills and content/strategies that can help us meet those standards.

So I figured . . . why not share some of the goodies we talked about?

1. Newly approved state social studies standards.
This gives you the entire document including the standards, the benchmarks underneath each of the standards, and course/grade level expectation sheets (which contain suggested content.)

2. Stanford History Education Group
SHEG draws on over twenty years of research-based experience working at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to find the most effective ways to convey knowledge and love of history to students. Sweet lesson plans that focus on historical thinking. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features sets of primary documents modified for groups of students with diverse reading skills and abilities.

3. Beyond the Bubble
This site unlocks the vast digital archive of the Library of Congress to create a new generation of history assessments. Developed by the Stanford History Education Group,  it goes “beyond the bubble” by offering easy-to-use assessments that capture students’ knowledge in action – rather than their recall of discrete facts.

4. Engaging Students with Primary Sources
By focusing on the evidence itself—documents, objects, photographs, and oral histories—students can get a glimpse into the past beyond what a textbook can provide. Introducing your classes to primary sources and making them a regular part of classroom lessons help student develop critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills that will be useful throughout their lives.

5. DocsTeach
The National Archives created this cool tool housing hundreds of lesson plans focused on historical thinking skills and primary sources. You can use pre-made lessons or use their templates to create your own. Download this Common Core Alignment document to find  lessons based on specific CC standards.

6. Historical Thinking Skills Interactives
This series of interactive activities introduces and models the Historical Thinking Skills defined by the National Center for History in the Schools. The interactives each model a specific skill or set of skills, such as analyzing historical artifacts or using primary sources to develop a thesis.

7. ThinkFinity
Thinkfinity is a free online professional learning community, providing access to over 60,000 educators and experts in curriculum enhancement, along with thousands of award-winning digital resources for K-12 — aligned to state standards and the common core.

8. Historical Thinking Matters
Four investigations of central topics from post-civil war U.S. history, with activities that foster historical thinking and encourage students to form reasoned conclusions about the past.

9. Historical Scene Investigation
The Historical Scene Investigation Project (HSI) was designed for social studies teachers who need a strong pedagogical mechanism for bringing primary sources into their classroom.

10. Teaching is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom.

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