Each school year I start with a new crop of 7th graders who I know are about to experience Social Studies in a completely different way. In my classroom:
- There is no textbook to lug around. We use one periodically but rarely. I keep a class set in the room.
- Very few, if any, multiple choice questions. A lot more writing.
- Less and less “worksheets.” A lot of collaboration with peers.
- More projects. Technology integrated into the subject.
- Everyday vocabulary such as primary sources, contextualize, corroborate, bias, artifacts, inference.
- Questions that don’t have one right answer. Having to defend their answers with evidence.
- And learning to “think like historians.”
This takes training. Students don’t just come in knowing how to do this. I take a good amount of time at the beginning of the year introducing my students to the process of historical thinking. This is what I do:
Discussion about sources. Primary vs. Secondary sources. Sometimes there is a student who knows the difference but they are in the minority. We explore the difference between primary and secondary sources and talk about what it means to infer. We brainstorm the different types of primary sources. I have done this differently every year, usually by Googling “primary and secondary source lesson plans” and piecing together what works for me. This year I came up with these which were mostly taken from this lesson plan.
These are recorded in a notebook that is my take on an interactive notebook. I call them HIT (Historians In Training) books. These books are used to collect information from a variety of sources and determine the accuracy of that information. (Click here for a post that goes into more detail on my HIT books).
Application of the discussion from day 1. I usually have a variety of stations (10-12) that have either scenarios or actual objects that students rotate through in pairs and decide if it is a primary or secondary source. The scenarios often come from the powers of Google. The process of students moving through stations is a teaching strategy that I use OFTEN. Such a great way to get kids up and moving AND have them experience a variety of things in one class period.
This year I had 10 stations, each with a scenario card that they pasted into their HIT book and selected whether it was a primary or secondary source.
Historical Thinking Day. Students learn some big words today. Sourcing. Contextualize. Corroboration. Close Reading. I am a huge fan of SHEG (Stanford History Education Group) and their website. They have so many awesome lesson plans for teachers to use. I am a frequent flier on their site!
I created these posters using PowerPoint, printed them off and laminated them together for the students to use. The information for these posters comes from SHEG and Gilder-Lehrman (another go-to website for social studies teachers!) Students are placed into 4 teams. Each group spends time with each term and students are required to fill out the charts about each word based on the information they discover. These charts are then cut out and pasted into their HIT notebooks. We have a brief whole-class discussion on the terms and I talk about how important it is to start with “sourcing.”