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Posts tagged ‘lesson plans’

7 strategies that support historical thinking with grade school kids

As we continue to talk about ways to integrate literacy skills and social studies content, I often get the chance to chat with elementary teachers about the process. It’s always an interesting conversation and always seems to include some sort of comment that questions the ability of grade school students to think historically.

It’s not that K-5 teachers think historical thinking can’t happen. They’re just not sure what it can look like. So if you have questions or know someone who might have questions about what historical thinking looks like at the grade school level, we’ve got you covered.

(And you secondary folks? Don’t be afraid to browse through the list. There’s a lot of crossover.)

Read more

Got art? Using visuals as part of your social studies instruction

I admit it. I’m a little biased. Both my kids have a strong sense of art, of being able to create visually appealing pieces. (The Rowdie effort to the left is not one of their best efforts, though it does accurately convey the family pet personality.) We constantly had crayons, painting supplies, easels, and all sorts of other artsy things in use around the house. So I’ve always been keen to the idea of integrating visual arts and images into social studies instruction.

And I think we often forget how powerful the arts can be in connecting our kids with social studies content and big ideas. Art, in all of its forms, is a great way to create emotion, generate connections, and build relationships. When we fail to intentionally integrate the visual arts, music, sculpture, dance, and theater, we do our kids a disservice.

One of the quickest ways to incorporate the arts is to focus on the visual – paintings, drawings, and images. But what can that look like? Read more

Teaching with Historic Places, Brown v. Board, and the NPS

I always enjoy spending time at the Brown v. Board National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas. Based in the former Monroe Elementary building, the site honors the people and ideas that culminated in the 1954 landmark case declaring state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.

It’s a history place. And, you know, I like history. So what’s not to like? Brave parents. Courageous students. Hard working lawyers. Landmark court decision. Good vs. evil. It’s a very moving experience.

The side benefit? Great staff. I worked this morning with Thom Rosenblum – site Historian, Nick Murray – Education Specialist, and Linda Rosenblum – National Teacher Ranger Teacher Coordinator as we discussed future teacher training possibilities.

But the conversation and the location got me thinking. Do classroom teachers really know what goes on at the National Park Service? We’re always looking for resources and lesson plans and materials and ideas and field trips and outside experts. Do classroom teachers know that the NPS has all of that stuff?

If they don’t, they really need to head over to their nearest national park or historic site and check out what’s available in their own back yard. Cause there’s tons of sites with tons of stuff. Read more

NCSS offers online Teachers’ Library – tons o’ resources

The National Council for the Social Studies is a leader in promoting high-quality instruction and learning in the discipline. They provide a wide range of resources and tools for teachers including national standards, trade book suggestions, and professional development.

NCSS also has a Teachers’ Library with a collection of classroom activities, teaching ideas, and articles from Social Education, Middle Level Learning, and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Browse the collection by selecting historical period and grade level: Read more

Tip of the Week: 5 glorious government goodies

I’m a history guy. My shelves are full of history related titles. (Current reads? The Wright Brothers and the Oregon Trail.) I taught US history to 8th graders and World History to college kids. Did my graduate research on the Kansas Mennonite reaction to World War One.

But my first love was political science. I earned my high school government credit by campaigning for Kansas governor John Carlin and registering voters in Garden City. Graduated with a BA in political science and thought briefly about taking the civil service exam so I could apply to the State Department.

Several weeks ago, I was called to task by a secondary government teacher because there’s not enough civics and government stuff on History Tech. And I realized, yeah . . . maybe I could spend a few more minutes here and there focusing on some government resources. So today? Five of my favorite go to government goodies. Read more

Chronological List of HATs

Nope. Not a baseball cap. Not a visor. Not a bowler, beanie, beret, or bucket hat.


As in History Assessments of Thinking.

I know you’ve been over to both of the Stanford History Education Group’s sites – Reading Like a Historian as well as their Beyond the Bubble page. Both are incredibly powerful examples of what instruction and assessment can look like when we focus on historical thinking processes rather than just foundational knowledge.

At Reading Like a Historian, you can find lessons in both US and World history that support the use of evidence and literacy skills. Beyond the Bubble has a whole series of short, easy to deliver, and easy to measure assessments of historical thinking.

History Assessments of Thinking.


It’s okay if you’ve been using them without knowing what they were actually called. Cause they’re still awesome. But they’re arranged by the historical thinking skill they measure – Sourcing, Contextualization, Corroboration, Use of Evidence, and Background Knowledge, And so because they’re organized by skill rather than chronologically, it can be difficult to find just the right HAT that fits your instructional needs.

Until now. Read more


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