This week I had the opportunity to work with secondary social studies teachers in Volusia County Florida – a talent group who are participating in a multi-year “Teaching American History Grant.”
The focus of my two-day workshop was the “Student as Historian.” We practiced strategies that teachers can use to shift their role from teacher as “education dispenser” (gathering, distilling and delivering information); to teacher as “educational architect” who can design classrooms where students do the work of constructing meaning. Lessons were designed to enable students to do the work of historian using a variety of comprehension skills:
– Identify details – can you identify key symbols, words, visual elements?
– Recognizing context – where is this taking place, time period, who’s involved?
– Identify relationships – who are these people, what is their relationship to one another?
– Identify opinions – is there a point of view expressed in the source information?
– Infer meaning – is there meaning that can be extracted from what’s between the lines?
– Make predictions – based on the information, what will happen next?
For demonstration, I assembled a group of documents that students could use to answer essential historic questions. I’ve put the documents and guiding activities online at a temporary web site: Selections from an American History Collection