204: Teaching Historical Empathy (Truman & the Korean War)

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Teaching Historical Empathy:
  • Bad Examples:
    • binding the hands and feet of students to help them feel what it felt like to be transported like slaves
    • dividing class in halves and treating one half like they are privileged and other half like they are part of a persecuted underclass
    • place students in a position to empathize with a moment, idea or person in history without examining historical evidence
  • What It is Not
    • impossible to make students have the same emotions and thoughts as historical figures
    • not being the person; not an exercise of pure imagination
  • What It is
    • attempt to use historical evidence to make sense of the way people saw things and how those viewpoints influenced their actions
    • attempt to answer question – Why did an individual or group of people act in a certain way given a set of circumstances?
    • developing appreciation that the past is very different from the present
    • judging past actors in their own historically situated context and on its terms
    • listening to voice of the past without preconceptions – let people of the past begin and end their own sentences
    • stripping away the present and immersing students in the past on its own terms
    • examining multiple sources of evidence in an attempt to understand the past in its own terms
  • With whom to empathize?
    • Working through a “structured dilemma” that requires students to work through evidence can build empathy
      • example: key presidential decisions
        • Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation
        • Jackson’s removal of the Easter tribes
        • Franklin Roosevelt and whether to bomb Auschwitz-Birkenau
        • Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis
        • Truman and Korean War decisions
  • Caveats
    • Do not let students use their imaginations to re-create historical decisions without letting them base their decisions on historical evidence available to actors at the time of the decision
Why the Korean War?
  • Conflicting Intents
    • US entered was as part of United Nations forces, did not declare war
    • Contain spread of Communism in Asia
    • Avoid World War III starting in Asia
  • Korean War & MacArthur:
    • MacArthur broke a stalemate with the successful attack of Inchon harbor on September 15, 1950
    • Recaptured Seoul Sept 28, 1950
    • As a result, US changed policy from containing Communism to the 38th parallel to it back to the Chinese border
    • Sept 2, 1950 – President Truman authorized MacArthur to cross the 38th parallel and take the battle back to the Chinese border
    • Tides of war turned against US
      • Nov 26, 1950 – 260,000 Chinese troops crossed the border and engaged UN and South Korean forces
      • Jan 1951 – UN forces pushed back across the 38th parallel with massive casualties
    • Nov 18, 1950 – US Security Council reaffirmed intent to prevent war from flaring into a global confrontation (anti-WW3 intent)
      • steeling itself for a possible other WW3 in Europe against Soviet Union
    • Apr 19, 1951 – MacArthur speech to Congress asking for a wider war
      • prior to this met with Chiang Kai-shek – to gather support of Chinese Nationalists
      • also make public comments about need to support Taiwan
      • Wanted to widen war by:
        • involving Chinese Nationalist troops to invade China
        • attacking Chinese industrial sites
    • Mar 1951 – tensions between MacArthur and Truman administration escalated when MacArthur conducted interviews in Tokyo that discussed the need to escalate the way and that criticized the Truman administration for limiting his ability to win the war
    • Apr 11, 1951 – Truman administration removed MacArthur from his position
    • May 1851 – MacArthur returned home to a victory parade
    • Apr 19, 1951 – MacArthur addressed joint session for Congress and continued to press for his policies
    • Korean War ended in stalemate, negotiation and frustration
    • Negotiated settlement reached in Eisenhower’s administration due to threat of use of nuclear weapons in Korea
Implementing the Lesson:
  • Pre-Launch activities:
    • Students read a reading on early events of Korean War
  • Launch events:
    • Student brainstorm list of events that might affect public support for a war
      • emphasize unpredictability of public opinion and need to manage pubic opinion when US is involved in military engagements
    • Students analyze public opinion polls during first 8 months of Korean War
    • Students discuss change of public opinion over time
    • Polling subtext is important –
      • how does sample size affect results?
      • how do questions affect the results?
    • Debrief reading on Korean War events:
      • focus on battlefield events and US domestic policies
      • establish context for Truman’s decisions
  • Investigation:
    • Students consult a timeline of Korean War events and create a T-chart for evidence for and against the removal of MacArthur
      • Work individually and in a pairs
      • Attempt to decide whether Truman should listen to MacArthur’s advice or fire him
    • Working in groups of 4, students consider the questions
      • If the US does not fight to win, will it be perceived as weak by China and the Soviet Union?
      • Could MacArthur’s suggestions expand the scope of the war and possibly escalate it to World War III?
      • Did MacArthur violate the Constitution with his actions and words by crossing the President acting as Commander and Chief?
      • Even though the President is the Commander and Chief, shouldn’t he listen to the advice of his generals?  Whose job is it to develop military policy?
    • Students divide themselves into 1 of 3 groups:
      • Truman and MacArthur should negotiate peace with North Korea
      • Fire MacArthur but follow his advice to escalate the war to all of Korea
      • Look past MacArthur’s actions and follow his advice
  • Halftime:
    • Students develop quick list of thoughts that occupy Truman’s thoughts in the winter of 1950-1951
  • Finishing Investigation:
    • Quick review of key historical content
    • Revisit driving question – Given events of 1951, what should Truman decide?
    • Examine reactions to President Truman’s decisions to fire MacArthur and start peace negotiations
    • Students write a press release as Truman’s press secretary
      • Explains decisions relating to Korean War and ties these to
        • causes of Korean War
        • events that altered the course of the war
        • General MacArthur’s demands and actions in the war
        • reasons for Truman’s decision
  • Student responses to lesson:
    • some see context within the current period
    • some struggle to shed current notions and examine decisions from the presents
    • some use cliches to formulate decisions
    • learn difficulties of making decisions as a policy maker who has to consider variables such as public opinion, political impacts / consequences, etc.
    • develop some empathy by considering multiple sources of historical evidence
Science Connections:
  • Students could consider various sources of scientific evidence that are used to inform policies.  Examples:
    • Should US invest in nuclear energy?
    • Should US de-incentivize fossil fuel energy sources and incentivize non-fossil fuel energy source as wind power and solar power?
    • Should US create policy that requires labeling of foods that include genetically modified crops?
    • Should public schools require proof of early childhood vaccines?
    • Should US limit the use of fossil fuels in an attempt to reduce fossil fuels?
  • Students can create T-charts that use scientific evidence in favor and against specific policies and then create an Analytic Memo for a policy maker that:
    • suggests a specific policy
    • provides scientific context of events / evidence that support the policy
    • discuss impacts of policy

 

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Using analysis of various types of historical evidence to develop some sense of historical empathy can teach students how to use evidence to understand other people’s perspectives on their own terms.  Using “structured dilemmas” to build this sense of empathy can help students to better understand the challenges and variables that impact policy maker’s decisions.  It can also give students opportunities practice in skills that help them become better advisor and / or policy makers.

 

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Note:  This is written for Science teachers.  For tips for history teachers, read the book or the summary of the book chapter in the WHAT? section of this article above.

 

 
Preparation Steps
  • Identify what concepts are the enduring understandings of your particular course
  • Research to determine if any of the enduring understandings are related to host of scientific evidence that has been / is currently being considered to make policy decisions
  • Research to find or create an annotated timeline that includes scientific evidence that supports and goes against specific policy decisions
  • Gather evidence of public opinion that supports or goes against policies that can be used during project launch.  Could take form of
    • public opinion polls
    • contradicting editorials or political cartoons
  • Design a project calendar with following phase:
    • launch
      • brainstorm what kinds of scientific evidence can sway decisions of policy makers and influence public opinion
      • initial investigations of public opinion pieces
      • introduce driving question – Should ____________ support the policy to ______________?  What scientific evidence supports this policy?
    • investigation phase
      • students study scientific evidence and develop a T-chart in favor and against specific policies
    • half time assessment
      • make a quick list of scientific evidence that must be considered to suggest a good policy
    • continue investigation
      • students in teams consider questions such as:
        • What does scientific evidence suggest as potential benefits of a specific policy?
        • What are the limitations of the scientific evidence used to support and contradict a specific policy?
        • How can scientific evidence be presented in a way that sways public opinion in favor of a specific policy?
    • end investigation
      • students use T-charts to make a specific policy recommendation
      • students create  an Analytic Memo for a policy maker that:
        • suggests a specific policy
        • provides scientific context of events / evidence that support the policy
        • discuss impacts of policy
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project calendar described above
  • Monitor students during individual investigation phase to make sure they are using scientific significance criteria to compile T-chart evidence
  • Monitor students while they debate which policy to support – make sure they supporting their recommendations with scientific evidence
  • Provide formative feedback on Analytic Memos that focuses on students’ use of scientific evidence to support policies
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Students analyze a current issue and submit / present policy recommendations to lobby a real policy maker or person who works for a real policy maker

 

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203: Using the Civil Rights Movement to Teach Historical Significance

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Inspiration for the Lesson:
  • Debate among leaders of the Organization of American Historians as to when the Civil Right’s movement started
Implementing the Lesson:
  • Student investigate a series of images related to the Civil Right’s Movement and select the top 2 they associate with the Civil Right’s Movement
  • Teacher asks students questions about their top choices
  • Teacher tells compelling stories of images without votes
  • Class discusses criteria for determining the historical significance of an event
    • Students come up with criteria similar to ones by Levesque
      • Importance
      • Profundity
      • Quantity
      • Durability
      • Relevance
  • Use their own criteria for historical significance to investigate events on annotated timeline that covers Civil Rights events from the 1900’s until today and try to answer the driving question:  When did the Civil Right’s Movement begin?
  • Students use this analysis of historical events to answer driving question and create a Birth Certificate that has
    • Date of start of Civil Right’s Movement
    • Parents of Civil Right’s Movement
    • Event that started Civil Right’s Movement
  • Student gains:
    • learn greater context for events involve Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks
    • learn that Civil Rights figures did not magically appear, instead they were furthering goals of predecessors
    • use analysis of evidence to make an evidence-based argument
    • learn how to use their own criteria to establish the historical significant of events
 
Science Connections:
  • The most famous committee that rewards scientists for making impactful discoveries is the Nobel Prize Committee
  • A similar lesson can be designed that has students investigate the scientific significance of discoveries.
  • In this lesson students can:
    • develop criteria for the scientific significance of events
    • analyze discoveries on an annotated timelines and try to identify the next winner of the Nobel Prize in a subject related to your course
    • analyze discoveries on annotated timelines and try to identify who should have been the winners of the Nobel Prize due to their contributions in the understanding one a specific concept
  • End product – Nobel Prize announcement that
    • names the Nobel Prize winner
    • explains the significance of the winner’s discoveries using the criteria for scientific significance determined by the students

 

3-sowhat
In this lesson, students learn how to develop and use their own criteria to establish the significance of historical events.  This skills teachers students how to use their own judgement to develop frameworks that can be used to analyze sources.  While using their criteria to investigate several events in an annotated timeline, students learned a broader context for the events of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

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Note:  This is written for Science teachers.  For tips for history teachers, read the book or the summary of the book chapter in the WHAT? section of this article above.

 

 
Preparation Steps
  • Identify what concepts are the enduring understandings of your particular course
  • Research to determine if any of the enduring understandings have underpinnings that include people and discoveries that are invisible in typical science curricula
  • Research to find or create an annotated timelines that includes people and discoveries that both well-known and unknown to most science students
  • Research criteria for the Nobel Prize.  Decide whether you would like students to use the Nobel Prize criteria to determine scientific significance of a discovery or develop their own criteria.
  • Create an image bank that can be used to launch the event:
    • include both iconic and less well known images of concept being studied
  • Design a project calendar with following phase:
    • launch – initial investigate of images and selecting of top 2 iconic images
    • review of criteria:
      • students create criteria for scientific significance OR
      • students restate Nobel criteria in their own words
  • Students working in teams investigate discoveries on an annotate time lines and the criteria for scientific significance to determine which discovery should win the Nobel Prize in ______________ for contributions related to the concept of ____________
  • Students compose a Nobel Prize announcement that includes name of prize winner(s), the discovery, the significance and impact of the discovery
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project calendar described above
  • Monitor students during individual investigation phase to make sure they are using scientific significance criteria to prioritize and rank discoveries
  • Monitor students while they debate which discoveries deserve the Nobel Prize – make sure they are reference evidence related to the discoveries and scientific significance criteria
  • During debrief discussions, probe for questions, understandings and misconceptions
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Get students to analyze discoveries of current scientists and predict who will win the Nobel Prize in 10 years – have them back their conclusions with evidence from the discovery and future impacts the discovery might logically have on technology and other branches of science

 

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202: Continuity & Change Over Time (Custer’s Last Stand or the Battle of Greasy Grass)

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littlebighorn
 

 

Pledge of Allegiance – Example of Continuity & Change
  • 1870’s – poem by Edward Bellamy to commemorate 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery
    • Bellamy salute – left hand on heart, right hand extended with palm facing the flag
    • “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and Justice for all.
  • 1920’s –
    • “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and Justice for all.
    • Due to concerns about anarchists and Communists and xenophobia about immigrants
  • 1930’s –
    • Bellamy salute -> right hand over heart
    • Differentiate American democracy from European fascism
  • 1950’s –
    • added phrase “under God”
    • Distinguish US’s religious freedom from Soviet Union’s banning of religion
 
Lesson with Pledge of Allegiance:
  • Early in the year, show students 3 forms of the pledge and ask them to:
    • identify major differences in the pledges
    • speculate reasons for changes in the pledges
 
Inspiration for lesson involving Custer’s last stand:
  • new evidence uncovered near the battle site caused historians to reexamine evidence of the battle
  • political lobbying by Native American community to rename the park and modify park exhibits that glorified Custer
  • why venerate Custer when he had died while many poor tactical decisions
Supporting lessons:
  • Students examine post-Civil War population movement westward.  Students examine:
    • Transcontinental Railroad
    • Homestead Act
    • Exoduster migration out of the South
    • Indian Wars
      • Sand Creek incident
      • pusuit and capture of Geronimo and Nez Perce
Little Big Horn Lesson:
  • Before the lesson, students read about the causes, course, and consequences of the Battle of Little Bighorn.
  • Project images of battle that represent 2 different perspectives – one that glorifies Custer and one painted by a Native American who had fought in the battle
    • after students discuss each image, teacher reveals the purpose, creator and timer period of the image
  • After discussion around images, teacher provides brief overview of the events that led to and define Custer’s last stand – summary of reading students had done earlier.  Students exposed to:
    • relationships among Plains Indian tribes, the settlers, and the military
    • battlefield actions
    • helps student understand context of the battle
  • Introduce driving question – students are members of the National Park Service who are charged with naming the battle site. Possibilities include:
    • The Battle of the Little Bighorn National Monument
    • Custer’s Last Stand National Battlefield
    • Sioux Victory National Battlefield
    • Custer’s Battlefield National Monument
    • Native Victory National Battlefield
    • Greasy Grass National Battlefield  (Native name for Little Bighorn River)
    • Little Bighorn National Memorial
    • Fill in the bank with your own choice
  • Students individually consider 1 of various assigned sources that represent different perspectives of the battle
  • Students in teams that include experts of each of the sources try to interpret all the evidence and come up with a name for the historical site
  • Student misconceptions
    • bias is a bad thing rather than a neutral thing (point of view) present in all history sources
    • truth is absolute, black or white, no grays – miss the idea that sources depict different people’s perspectives
    • sorting truthful from untruthful sources – this type of thinking oversimplifies the investigation
    • create interpretations colored by their own personal beliefs
    • false mathematical views of history – try to mathematically aggregate the sources to find the one right answer
  • Student gains
    • students see the need to consider multiple sources to come up with historical interpretations
    • students see the need to consider where sources came from
    • instead of interpreting history as accepting “other’s facts”, start using facts to make their own historical interpretations
    • roles played by main actors in the events humanize Indian Wars for students
    • students learn to pay attention to historical details in sources to make decisions
Science Connections:
  • Teachers can design lessons that cause students to investigate how our understanding of fundamental concepts has changed over time.  Core concepts that have evolved over time include:
    • gravity
    • energy
    • thermodynamics
    • atomic model
    • electromagnetism
    • evolution
    • nature of light
    • solar system models
  • Students can investigate how theories evolve over time due to
    • invention of new tools (both technological and mathematical)
    • application of old tools to new things
    • development of theoretical models
  • For ideas on how to structure this, see Now What? section below

 

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Using historical sources to study how historical artifacts (such as the Pledge of Allegiance) and historical interpretations evolve over time can teach students to appreciate history in ways that are deeper than taking history merely at face value.  Learning how to consider more perspectives to develop more nuanced understandings of historical events will teach students skills they can apply in history and fields outside history in their future careers.

 

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Note:  This is written for Science teachers.  For tips for history teachers, read the book or the summary of the book chapter in the WHAT? section of this article above.

 

 
Preparation Steps
  • Identify what concepts are the enduring understandings of your particular course
  • Research to determine if any of the enduring understandings have underpinnings that are continuum of models that evolved over time
  • Research to find several sources that:
    • focus on the evolution of model centered around once concept
    • offer a collection of models / understandings of the concept
    • use multiple methodologies to investigate the issue – different experimental studies, different theoretical models, etc.
    • are accessible to students with some vocabulary scaffolding support
  • Develop a driving question that can be investigated by all the sources – It could be something like:
    • Why is the model of ________________ evolving?  What should be the name of a research institute dedicated to the discoveries of the concept of __________?
  • Develop thinking sheets for each of the sources that ask students to consider:
    • what model is constructed to describe the phenomena?
    • what are the strengths of the model?
      • what type of phenomena are described well by the phenomena. Why?
    • what are the limitations of the model
      • what type of phenomena are not well described by the model.  Why?
    • what new discoveries led to the modifications present in the model?
    • who supports the model? why?
    • who does not support the model? why?
  • Decide which sources will serve as the launch source:
    • the launch source should hook students into the debate and transition well to the driving question
  • Design a project calendar with following phase:
    • launch – initial investigation and initial impression gathering phase
    • provide background overview that helps students have some holistic sense of why models are evolving
    • investigate individual sources individually
    • in groups share evidence in order to formulate answers to driving questions that consider evidence from multiple sources
    • students present their interpretations of the driving question to the class
    • debrief discussion that shares current accepted views of the phenomena and how the science community came to agreement on that model
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project calendar described above
  • Monitor students during individual investigation phase to make sure they are questioning and accurately describing he strengths and limitations of the models in their sources
  • Monitor students while they debate and formulate interpretations in their teams – make sure they are using evidence from their sources in their arguments
  • During debrief discussions, probe for questions, understandings and misconceptions
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Get students to investigate a model that is still in development (ex – origin of the universe, expansion of the universe, dimensions of the universe) and extrapolate how that model might evolve in the future and the evidence that would be gathered to create projected changes in the model

 

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201: Teaching Multiple Perspectives (Bonus March of 1932)

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Official BEF Photo. Digital image. Radio Diaries. Radio Diaries, n.d. Web. 14 May 2016.

 

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Revising History:
  • Examples:
    • Pluto lost its planet status in 2004
    • Deepening understanding of role of women in American Revolution due to work of Carol Berkin, Mary Beth Norton, Kathryn Sklar, Linda Kerber, Nancy Cott, Carol Dubois
  • Why this occurs:
    • New evidence uncovered
    • Old evidence investigated by new questions
  • Math / Science connections
    • Understanding of concepts and techniques change as
      • new evidence is uncovered
      • new techniques are tools are invented
Multiple Perspectives:
  • Multiple perspectives versus Historical interpretations
    • former deals with evidence created by people in close proximity to the focus events
    • latter deals with sources created by people who are not participants in the focus events – wrote about the event later in time
  • Tips about teaching multiple perspectives to teenagers
    • do not use too many perspectives at once
    • use a variety of one-dimensional sources that as a collection represent multiple perspectives
    • subtext and context of sources is important to understanding perspectives of pieces
Why the Bonus Army?  
  • Stories of participants humanize the Great Depression
  • July 1932 – 20,000 Americans stages a peaceful protest in Washington, D. C.
  • Context: Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924:
    • 1.00 / day for domestic service; 1.25 / day for overseas service
    • Compensation made available through:
      • Bonus certificates redeemable in 1945 for pay over $50
      • Less than $50 – immediate cash
  • Bonus Army and related events:
    • led by WW1 veteran Walter Waters
    • army of unemployed veterans conducted an 18-day march from Portland, Oregon to Washington, D. C.
    • due to news coverage, gained followers from Texas, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc
    • protesting late payments of bonuses
    • lobby in favor of bill sponsored by Congressman Wright Patman of Texas for immediate pay of bonus in 1924
      • considered fiscally responsible because it exceeded federal budget
    • a D. C. police chi and WW1 veteran Pelham Glassford aided protestors by organizing sites and buildings for them to lay camp and working to provide them with food and water
      • partly provided aid to make protesters more malleable to local laws
    • Walter Waters responded to police aid with military style discipline
      • forbade freeloading, drinking and radical talk
      • military police patrolled the campgrounds
      • opposed Communist and radical elements within their camps
        • at one point D. C. police had to prevent them from beating Communists caught within their camps
    • June 7 – 8,000 marched down Pennsylvania Avenue
    • Government concerns
      • afraid protests were a threat to reelection of Herbert Hoover
      • afraid lobbying exceed scope of passing the Patman bill
      • afraid of possible connection between B.E.F. and the Community Party who was constantly trying to take credit for the march despite Waters’ protests
    • June 17 – Patman bill rejected by U. S. Senate vote
    • Many protesters left – trains home paid for by $100,000 train assistance provided by Hoover administration
    • 10,000-15,000 protesters remained in D. C.
      • frustration increased due to time, poor food, summer heat, waterborne diseases
    • July 28 – police tried to move protestors from Federal Triangle buildings to Anacostia Flats – protestors responded by throwing bricks at the police
    • Hoover ordered the U. S. Army to move the protestors under command of MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Patton
      • army moved protestors to Anacostia Flats using tear gas, bayonets and physical force
      • MacArthur disobeyed President’s orders to not enter Bonus Army’s camps – entered the camp and routed the veterans.
    • Diverse reactions to veteran treatment
      • some perceived it as evidence of President Hoover’s callousness
      • some perceived it as necessary action to protect country from a Communist plot
    • Hoover made a public announcement that the “Communist threat” was defeated
      • investigations failed to reveal a connection between the Communist party and the Bonus Army
  • Varying historians’ interpretations of the events:
    • evidence of President Hoover’s lack of caring for veterans and the unemployed (Walter Water’s and Police Chief Glassford’s perspective)
    • President Hoover acted to protect country from Communist Party (Cold War perspective)
    • evidence from release of Hoover’s personal papers in 1966, squared blame on MacArthur (Hoover perspective)
  • Students who investigate the Bonus Army investigate multiple perspectives to develop and defend an answer to the question: Why was the Bonus Army forced out of D. C. and who should bear responsibility for this decision?
From Idea to Historical Investigation:
  • Refining driving question
    • Focusing on the why instead of the what of the events helps students to dig deeper into the evidence
  • Limiting number of sources
    • Limited number of sources to 8 to avoid overwhelming students
Teaching the Lesson:
  • Students listen to song: “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”
    • provide info on the Depression and plight of WW1 veterans
    • relates to homework reading on these topics
  • Students read about Bonus Army for homework
  • Debrief homework using series of images of Bonus War events.
  • Introduce driving question: Why were the marchers forcibly removed and who should take responsibility for the decision?
  • Students provided 1 of 8 sources.
    • Provide students with Who’s Who list of people involved in the Bonus Army events
  • Students grouped into teams that have experts on each of the 8 sources.
    • students share their findings from their sources – present content, context and subtext in their sources (teacher monitoring supports this critical sharing of
    • after sharing, students complete the following sentence stems:
      • We believe that the Bonus Army was forcibly removed from Washington D. C. because …
      • We believe that ________ was / were responsible for the decision to remove the Bonus Marchers because …
    • students debate within their teams while trying to come to an agreement on how to complete the above sentence stems.  Remind student to preface their arguments with According to Source #, ____________
  • After students have interpretations, one final piece of evidence is released, a memoir from Hoover written 30 years later that contradicts many of their interpretations
  • Students’ reactions
    • Students seemed to be more suspicious of sources written long after the events EXCEPT for Hoover’s memoirs.  They seem to give him credit for revealing the truth at a time when the truth is less likely to damage his or other’s reputations.
  • Students learn how to
    • use multiple perspectives to realize a more nuanced view of history
    • question historical sources
    • formulate, define and defend historical arguments
    • how science is created
 
Science connections:
  • A multiple perspectives treatment of science can be used to consider multi-faceted evidence around once or still controversial issues in science such as:
    • the theory of evolution
    • global warming
    • development of string theories and related theories
    • the development of electromagnetic theory
    • development of theory of gravity
  • While considering different pieces of evidence focused on one of these topics, students can consider:
    • what model is constructed to describe the phenomena
    • what are the strengths of the model
      • what type of phenomena are described well by the phenomena. Why?
    • what are the limitations of the model
      • what type of phenomena are not well described by the model.  Why?
    • who supports the model? why?
    • who does not support the model? why?
  • Caveat –
    • At some point teachers need to emphasize accepted theories to avoid sowing wrong information and misconceptions into students’ minds
    • Teacher may need to explicitly teach how scientists and scientific communities confer validity to some types of information and not others
3-sowhat
Having students investigate and interpret sources that represent multiple perspectives helps students develop a more nuanced understanding of how knowledge is created.  Students who engage in using evidence to create, defend, and refine interpretations are more likely to remember the information they investigated.  This is because they are building knowledge frameworks to connect and challenge the information.

 

4-nowwhat
Note:  This is written for Science teachers.  For tips for history teachers, read the book or the summary of the book chapter in the WHAT? section of this article above.

 

Preparation Steps
  • Identify what concepts are the enduring understandings of your particular course
  • Research to determine if any of the enduring understandings either have a controversial origin or are applied in a current controversial issue
  • Research to find several sources that:
    • focus on one controversial issue
    • offer a collection of perspectives towards the controversial issue
    • use multiple methodologies to investigate the issue – different experimental studies, different theoretical models, etc.
    • are accessible to students with some vocabulary scaffolding support
  • Develop a driving question that can be investigated by all the sources – It could be something like:
    •  Why is the model of ________________ evolving?  Who posed the most valid description(s) of ________________ and what makes their description(s) most valid?
  • Develop thinking sheets for each of the sources that ask students to consider:
    • what model is constructed to describe the phenomena?
    • what are the strengths of the model?
      • what type of phenomena are described well by the phenomena. Why?
    • what are the limitations of the model
      • what type of phenomena are not well described by the model.  Why?
    • who supports the model? why?
    • who does not support the model? why?
  • Decide which sources will serve as the launch source and the final piece of evidence source:
    • the launch source should hook students into the debate and transition well to the driving question
    • the final released piece of evidence source should
      • contradict some of the previously released emphasis
      • might help to have it connect with the most accepted view of the phenomena since people tend to remember best the sources they are shown last
  • Design a project calendar with following phase:
    • launch – initial investigation and initial impression gathering phase
    • investigate individual sources individually
    • in groups share evidence to form consensus interpretations of evidence considered as a whole that address the driving question
    • release final piece of evidence
    • students refine their conclusions
    • debrief discussion that shares current accepted views of the phenomena and how the science community came to agreement on that model
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project calendar described above
  • Monitor students during individual investigation phase to make sure they are questioning and accurately describing he strengths and limitations of the models in their sources
  • Monitor students while they debate and formulate interpretations in their teams – make sure they are using evidence from their sources in their arguments
  • During debrief discussions, probe for questions, understandings and misconceptions
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Get students to investigate a debate that is still ongoing and to predict how the debate  will end in the future and the types of evidence that will be required to end the debate
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200: Teaching Chronological Thinking and Causality (Rail Strike of 1877)

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Chronological Thinking
  • Beyond sequencing events in temporal order
  • Examining sources to determine how events relate to each other
  • Looking for causes of events and consequences of events
  • Understanding the difference between causal and correlational relationships
  • National Standards for History (related to chronology):
    • Identify in historical narratives the temporal structure of a historical narrative or story
    • Measure and calculate calendar time
    • Interpret data presented in time lines
    • Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration
    • Establish temporal order in constructing historical narratives of their own
  • Chronological thinking needs to be taught alongside causality
  • Math / Science Connections:
    • Scientists / mathematicians are more likely to say that two variable are correlated than causally related because the latter is harder to prove
    • The relationships among things is emphasized throughout the disciplines, it is the basis of functions and functions are a main ingredient in mathematical / scientific models and the predictions that emerge from the models
Causality
  • Standards related to causality:
    • explain causes in analyzing historical actions
    • grasp the complexity of historical causation, respect particularity, and avoid excessively abstract generalizations
  • Debates surrounding causes of events / eras can make history more real and engaging to students
  • While introducing this concept, select sources that require students to form a chronological narrative – NOT multiple causes, perspectives, or other types of historical thinking – isolate chronological / causal thinking
Why the Railway Strike of 1877?
  • images involve buildings that are local and recognizable to Baltimore students
  • Background info:
    • economic recession and racial tensions during the Reconstruction
    • 1873 Wall Street panic negatively affected nationwide economy
    • 1874 6,000 businesses close
    • railroads hit really hard
    • railroads engaged in a rate war to minimize effects of the depression
    • lower rates led to lower labor costs
      • paid workers less
      • workers hired for less hours
      • workers had to pay for travel home when work took them to distant cities
    • railroads ended rate wars in favor of an agreement to lower workers’ hourly wave
      • workers striked
        • sometimes destroyed railroad property
        • involved 100,000 workers nationwide
      • strike ended due to
        • federal trop deployment
        • lack of central workers’ org
    • Impacts:
      • stirred fear in the public
      • some reforms:
        • created Employees Relief Association – provide some medical services and death benefits to employees (1880
        • 1884 companies setup pensions for workers
      • momentum for Workingmen’s political party and labor movement
      • highlighted problems of industrialization
Implementing the Lesson
  • Display image from strike that shoes building on fire and ask students to identify elements in the image that aid in understanding artist’s viewpoint
  • Introduce Driving question: What event does the image depict and what is the artist’s message about the event?
  • Four sources:
    1. letter advertising Gatling gun to owner of B&O Railroad
    2. broadside announcing lowering of worker wages
    3. letter from president of B&O to President Hayes asking for federal troops
    4. insurance document listing damages caused by worker
  • These four sources can help students’ determine causal relationship among events of the strike
  • Cursive note: can provide typed copies of cursive sources just in case students struggle to read the handwriting
  • Jigsaw analysis
    • Students analyze different sources within a team of 4 with the help of thinking sheets that use question prompts to guide students to notice and interpret key features of the sources and formulate hypotheses
    • As a group, students use collection of sources to create a chronological account that generate original artist’s image at project launch
  • Alternative to group analysis
    • Each group analyzes the same source and presents their finding to the whole class
    • The whole class tries to process and arrange the sources in chronological order
  • Note about the sources and lessons learned:
    • the dates on sources do not necessarily correspond to the actual dates of the events they describe
    • this fact requires students to use causality to correctly order the sources
    • students learn that dates alone do not order sources / events; determinations about the relationships about the information within the sources influence the chronology
    • history is more than a random aggregation of information – there is an organization to the information due to causal relationships
  • Concluding the lesson:
    • Is the launch image pro- or anti- labor?
      • after discussing this question, teacher reveals caption of image: The Frenzy and What Came of It”
 
Leveraging these Lesson in the Future
  • Lessons learned by students:
    • Challenges misconception – sources created close in time to the event are more valid
      • sometimes sources created farther in time from the event have useful things to say because they are written from a broader perspective with access to more corroborating evidence
    • Moving beyond timelines – students learn to interpret sources and their relationships to each other to develop chronological frameworks that connect the sources
    • Students learn to view history narratives as jigsaw puzzles that can be solved
      • students were more engaged by “creating” time line than simply memorizing it – led to better retention
      • caveats – students may read too much or too little into sources and develop chronologies with logic flaws; promoting discussing among discussion may helps students to catch logic flaws
  • Teaching tip:
    • Many historical tools can be used to analyze and interpret sources
    • While scaffolding these tools, it’s helpful to emphasize one over the others
Math / Science Connections:
  • This style of lesson can be used to design lessons that show:
    • chronology of events that led to expanding understanding of a concept or the development of a currently well established math / science model (often called a theory)
      • examples:
        • development of quantum mechanics – happened very quickly and may have a lot of sources with dates that don’t necessarily match the exact discovery dates – (can also remove dates from source until after students have a hypothesis about the chronology). Within quantum mechanics – there are several concepts that can be focused on such as:
          • development of model for an atom
          • development for model of behavior of light
          • development for model for atomic nuclei
        • development of understanding of models to describe electricity and magnetis
        • development of model to understand gravity
        • with biology – the development of the theory of evolution
    •  can open with quote or a cartoon inspired by model being studied and ask students to describe what they notice and answer the driving question – What does this image depict and what is the artist’s message about the contents?
    • teaching students to logically link the development of models can help them to learn how mathematicians / scientists incrementally create new knowledge using more and more sophisticated models (or sometimes simpler models) to understand phenomena

 

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Teaching students how to create their own chronological frameworks by interpreting and connecting primary sources teaches students that history is not just an random aggregate of facts and events.  Creating their own timelines as opposed to simply memorizing ones can involve students in an engaging jigsaw puzzle that makes the resulting sequence more memorable.  This type of lesson can be applied in science / math lessons that investigate the development of now accepted models for describing phenomena.

 

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Note:  This sequence will be written for science teachers.  If you’re looking for advice on how to prepare and implement lessons related to historical lessons on chronology, read the WHAT? summary above.

 

Preparation Steps
  • Research the unfolding of discoveries that advanced the development of models that describe a specific phenomena.
  • Find student friendly, engaging sources that represent different models that describe the same phenomena.
  • Select sources whose dates don’t necessarily relate to the dates of the origin of the models OR expunge the dates from the sources.
  • Developing thinking sheets with several question prompts that guide students to analyze each source and its relationship to the anchor image.
  • Find an anchor image to launch the project that shows the model in an interesting way that hints at its origins and implications.
  • Create a driving question that requires students to investigate the sources to chronologically relate the models depicted in them to the model depicted in the anchor image?
Early Implementation Steps
  • Introduce anchor image and driving question.  Hold preliminary discussions to share and record what is initially notices and initial hypotheses
  • Have different teams investigate different sources with the help of thinking sheets.
  • Have each team present their findings to the class.
  • Use teams’ presentations to have a discussion aimed at sequencing the models
  • After models are sequenced, reconsider the anchor image and re-address the driving question
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Lesson could have models that relate to concepts that are still in flux and have students predict future expressions of the model

 

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199: Text, Subtext and Context (Theodore Roosevelt & the Panama Canal)

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A Common Language for Investigating the Part:
  • Using content, context and sub-text to summarize and evaluate historical sources can work for all units
  • Need to repeatedly use content, context and sub-text reflections to build up student skills
  • For guided questions related to content, context and sub-text, go this article: Making historical thinking a reality
Criteria for Selecting Sources
  1. Do not use more than 4 to 6 sources.  Especially in the beginning.
  2. Read the sources ahead of time and check for:
    • can lead to discussion related to driving question
    • accessible to students
  3. Vary types of sources
    • examples: cartoons, artwork, pictures, text, pop culture sources, maps, data tables, graphs, etc
  4. Aid students with:
    • academic vocabulary
    • contextualizing sources
    • providing legible copies of sources (if they are originally in cursive)
  5. Make sources of comparable length if you are using the jigsaw strategy to distribute / share sources.
Initiating the Investigation
  • Investigate sources and look for:
    • lies,
    • half-truths
    • exaggerations
    • rationalizations
    • obfuscations
    • Math / Science adaptations:
      • Look at strategies or concepts and identify
        • Always true
        • Sometimes true
        • Always false
        • Sometimes false
  • Students read excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s autobiography about the Panama Canal and ponder the Driving Question
    • What is Roosevelt doing in his autobiography (lying, telling a half-truth, exaggerating, rationalizing or obfuscating)?
    • What role did the US play in the acquisition of the territory used to construct the Panama Canal?
    • Math / Science adaptations:
      • Could present or develop circle axioms (or other conjecture types) and ask:
        • are these always, never or sometimes true?
        • In what situations are they true?
Digging Deeper
  • Students in teams are given one historical source and asked to answer questions related to the content, context and subtext of the source
    • source represent a cross section of view about the Panama Canal
    • 2 short guide questions:
      • What role did US play in the Panamanian Revolution?
      • Is there any info in this source that challenges assertions in Theodore Roosevelt’s autobiographical excerpts?
  • Students in teams discuss their sources.
    • Each team member read and analyzed different source
    • Discuss different sources citing specific examples and quotes from their sources
  • Alternatives to jigsaw approach:
    • One person reads all sources – very time consuming
    • Each group of 3 or 4 analyzes the same source and presents their findings to the class so whole class is exposed to all sources
    • Math /  Science Connection
      • Jigsaw approach – Each person in the team examine a different piece of evidence and share interpretations, observations with whole team (all evidence relates to the same concept)
      • Non-jigsaw approach – All students in same team of 2-3 solve the same problem – challenge students to develop multiple approaches to the same problem and use visuals to represent different approaches
Doing Source Work:
  • Wineburg, Historical Thinking Matters Framework
    • sourcing
    • contextualizing
    • close reading
    • corroborating
  • Hicks, et al. SCIM-C Strategy Framework
    • summarizing
    • contextualizing
    • inferring
    • monitoring
    • corroborating
  • In both approaches:
    • students need to move beyond a single source
    • examine relationships provided by each piece of evidence
    • Corroboration phase -> legitimate interpretations of historical questions
  • Math / Science connections:
    • Math framework
      • Asking questions
      • Making models to answer questions
      • Computations
      • Relating model results back to real life to check if they apply
    • Science framework
      • Making observations
      • Asking questions and hypotheses based on observations
      • Designing data procedures
      • Gathering, organizing, analyzing data
      • Drawing conclusions
    • Corroboration connections:
      • In Math – verifying that multiple approaches led to the same solution
      • In Science – verifying that different tests yield the same results
Complicating the Investigation
  • Students corroborate their evidence by completing the following sentence stem:
    • The various types of sources used to determine the purpose of Roosevelt’s autobiography created problems because …
    • Math connections
      • The various ways of representing the problem reveal different facets of the problem including …
      • The various ways of solving the problem are good for different purposes including …
    • Science connections
      • The various data sources yield different conclusions because …
      • The various data sources create problems because …
  • Types of student responses:
    • unreliable due to biased subtexts
    • sources only try to portray their own biased viewpoints
    • hard to know which source to believe
    • contradicting viewpoints, hard to tell what really happened
  • Student difficulties:
    • Students struggle to make connections among content, context and subtext
  • Another question that guides student corroboration of various sources: The subtext of the various documents was important to consider because …
    • Math / Science connection
      • The contexts / subtexts of the data are important to consider because …
    • Student responses:
      • explains why the source was written
      • explain variety of opinions
      • explains variety of evidence used by sources
      • helped convey reliability of sources
      • insights into intentions of authors
      • helped to tease out truth in sources
      • helped show biased in sources
  • Overall when trying to interpret events from the past, you need to …”
    • Math / Science connection
      • Overall, when trying to interpret data, you need to …
    • Student responses
      • consider sources with different viewpoints
      • research background info that reveals subtexts of sources
      • compare information from different sources
    • Student difficulties
      • believe that bias negates validity of a source (mathematical approach to history)
Student Interpretations – Transition Quick Write
  • Transition quick write at end of day one: Attempt to answer the driving question
    • Look fors in student quick writes:
      • evidence from sources
      • perspectives from multiple sources
    • Math / Science connection
      • Use driving question as quick write prompt
    • Student difficulties
      • Using evidence
      • Bridging content, context, and subtext in interpretations
      • Mathematical approach to history (problematic approach)
        • require consensus among sources
        • require lack of bias in sources
Returning to the Investigation:
  • End analysis by revealing most controversial and faceted source to students
  • Math / Science connection
    • Could reserve most nuanced and controversial piece of data for release near middle or end of project
Conclusions:
  • Analyzing sources’ content, context and subtext can help student investigate the past rather than just memorize and regurgitate text excerpts
  • Teacher resistance
    • kids can’t do this work
      • responses
        • studies have shown that this type of work can be done by elementary school students
        • teacher perseverance helps students acquire student skills
        • historical investigations make history more interesting
        • prepares students with skills they can use in any career
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Finding the right evidence and fashioning the right driving question can make boring topics interesting to students.  Releasing evidence at various points in the project can start and reinvigorate conversations related to the driving question.  Using content, context and subtext to analyze evidence can teach students how to investigate, question and interpret evidence.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Collect evidence (data, sources, etc) that students can use to explore content by investigating a driving question
  • Design driving question
  • Design thinking sheets that help students examine content, context and subtext of sources
  • Design prompts to facilitate conversations that corroborate evidence – see above for examples.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Use a controversial or provocative source to introduce a driving question
  • Assign sources (various) to students working in teams
  • Individually assign students to examine the content, context, and subtext to different sources within a team.
  • Get students to answer prompts as a team that get them to corroborate their sources and formulate interpretations that address the driving question
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Gather evidence and sources that uncovers current problems that relate to central concepts in your course. Design project and driving questions around that set of sources.

 

5-relatedstuff

198: Introducing Historical Thinking Through Nat Turner’s Rebelion

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Historical Background:
  • Aug 1831, Nat Turner led a brutal slave rebellion against his owner and other slave owners in Southampton, Virginia
  • Largest slave rebellion in US history
  • Nat Turner was inspired by visions from God
  • Eventually defeated, tried, hanged and skilled
  • Made Virginian legislators became more afraid of rebellion and less concerned of humanitarian concerns associated with slavery
Why Nat Turner?
  • Intriguing figure in history
  • Unlike typical victorious narrative in US History textbooks, Turner was defeated
  • Often left out of textbooks
  • Jarring juxtaposition of violence and deep religious faith
  • Can find a lot of primary sources that show intriguing displays of Nat Turner and the rebellion
Math / Science Connection
  • Research and identify a scientist / mathematician (concept) who (that) is little known and / or controversial
  • Select someone that has done work that can be examined to practice critical process skills
  • Collect primary resources related to selected scientist / mathematician / concept
Lesson Plan Goals:
Students will learn:
  • history is a discipline centered around questions
  • history applies information to generate interpretations that can answer questions
  • how to question their sources – identify text, context, and subtext of sources
  • historical interpretations are dynamic and debatable
Math / Science Connections
  • Identify process skills that can be taught by examining work of mathematician / scientist or examining evidence related to a controversial topics / concept.  Some examples include:
    • How to ask generative, testable questions and develop associated hypotheses
    • How to build models that can answer real world questions
    • How to design procedures to gather data that can be analyzed and interpreted to test hypotheses, answer questions with data-backed conclusions
    • How to analyze models – strengths, limitations, connections to real worlds
    • How to differentiate between hypotheses and theories
    • How does mathematics / scientific community assign validity to findings
Implementing the lesson (2 days)
  • Students view a variety of engaging images of Nat Turner and asked to:
    • describe actions described in the image
    • speculate about Turner’s personality and emotional state
    • compare / constrast depictions of Turner – height, skin coloration, facial features, clothing, interactions with other people in image, etc
  • Students realize after several images that images show the same person
    • ask students, why would they get such different impressions of the same person?
    • students might start to naturally ask, who created images and when were they created?
    • ask students, why does origin and intention of artist matter?
  • Driving question: How do we remember the actions of an enslaved man who lead an ultimately unsuccessful rebellion of slaves?
  • Students worked in teams are asked to develop a narrative for a historical marker that could be a part of Turner’s 1831 rebellion. In addition,
    • assess their own thinking
    • describe how sources they presented influenced their interpretations of the past
  • Students working in teams examine other primary sources that share the following characteristics
    • author’s presence is overt
    • as a collection, the relationship with the rebellion of the cited sources evolves
  • Students working in groups in 6 jigsaw read / examine 6 sources.
  • Students converse / share info related to their sources within their teams (each individual in the team read a different source)
  • Students discuss how Nat Turner should be remembered. (2-3 min)
  • Share their findings with the whole class.
  • Interesting observations of students:
    • Since 9/11, the word “terrorist” comes up often to describe Turner
    • Students have trouble separating figurative and literal descriptions of the events
  • Use literal interpretations of historical language as an entry point for teaching students how to interpret, questions and attack historical evidence.  Do this by sharing info about the context and sub-text of each historical source.
    • Present background info on all sources
    • Ask students if their opinions of the info in the sources change as a result of the background info
      • Combats natural habit due to traditional teaching / learning to accept all texts as true without questions
  • Introduce Text, Context and Subtext questions.  See this article for these questions: Making historical thinking a reality
    • Answering these questions and using these responses to reformulate interpretations gets students to realize there is “no one right answer”
    • Student reactions:
      • some struggle to reconcile conflicting viewpoints for different sources
      • struggle to face problems that arise from acknowledge context and subtext of sources
      • some are unsure how to handle questions raised by context and subtext information – can lead to bland, fact-laden responses = textbook responses
      • some interpret Turner as a religious figure
      • some try to tease out all the bias in the sources because they have come to think of history as a subject without bias
      • some formulated a conclusion by finding commonality in interpretations of the different sources -> Turner as brave freedom fighter
      • all these student reactions are first steps in developing historical thinking because students have made first attempts to
        • question sources
        • consider implications of context and subtext of sources
        • work to solve conflicting viewpoints from sources
        • start to use context and subtext to analyze comparative validity of sources
  • Respond to students’ first attempts at historical thinking with praise and reminders that this work is difficult and sometimes uncomfortable
Math / Science Connections:
  • Use Frontloading with Images strategy to launch a project
    • Select images that are different but describe the same concept and / or person (could be visuals, charts, graphs)
      • Examples:  different images that were used to prove or disprove evolution, different images that explain different understandings of gravity forces
  • When students start to connect images, ask students:
    • How are the images connected?
    • Why do the images vary?
  • Introduce driving question.  Could have the form:
    • How might this ___insert person or concept___ be taught or applied or celebrated or remembered?
  • Introduce deliverable. Could be
    • An artifact that represents the person / concept and written commentary that explain how the artifact answers the driving question
  • Group students and assign them different sources (jigsaw style)
  • Have students share findings from different sources within their teams and come to team interpretations of sources and artifacts
  • Have students share findings with the whole class (could do this in a discussion or a gallery)
  • Share background information related to the sources and ask if it changes their interpretation of the sources
  • Let students re-examine sources using Content, Content, and Sub-Context questions.  See this article for these questions: Making historical thinking a reality
  • Let students reformulate their interpretations and then work on their deliverables.
  • Ask students what processes they used i this project and what these processes taught them about science / math.
 
Questions Raised by this Lesson Format:
  • How to cover all material on standardized tests?
  • Are student-centered approaches to necessary to teach effectively?
  • How to balance historical process and historical content?
Related Math / Science Questions:
  • All of the above and:
  • What math / science processes are critical to scaffold?
  • How to present controversy in subjects that are associated with hard facts?
  • How to scaffold problem solving in ways that mimic real, transferable processes?

 

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Developing a starter lesson to introduce students to critical processes used by historians (scientists, mathematicians, etc) is a first step in guiding students to use content processes effectively to solve problems.  These primer lessons are especially important when the processes introduced are contrary to ways the subject has been primary been represented to students in their prior educational careers.  Lessons that get students to be aware of the strengths and limitations of their sources and to let these considerations influence their interpretations of these sources prepares students to be savvy consumers / interpreters / users of information.

 

4-nowwhat
Preparation Steps
  • Research and collect images that can challenge students to question how knowledge is created within a discipline and that relate to the curriculum –
    • examples – images that depict different understandings of electricity or  gravity or evolution
  • Research and collect sources that deal with a concept or event whose interpretations evolved over time
  • Develop a provocative driving questions that relates to curriculum, images, and sources
  • Prepare thinking sheets that have questions that guide students to analyze content, context, and subtext of sources.  See this article for these questions: Making historical thinking a reality
  • Gather background (context and subtext) information for images and sources and combine into a background research presentation
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement history or science / math sequence described above.
  • Monitor students as they work in order to learn the just-in-time moments to transition students to next step in the lesson sequence
  • Gather evidence of student thinking as they project unfolds
  • Provide formative feedback on student thinking as they work through phases of the lessons – this feedback could be mostly in the form of questions that guide students to develop more layered, deeper understanding of their sources and to question their interpretations
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Over time, collect images, cartoons, and sources that present core concepts in different ways to be used in design of similar lessons
  • Take students on field trips to get a close look at primary sources – example the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has first edition copies of Galileo’s Starry Messenger, Newton’s Principe, etc.
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197: Facilitating a Historical Investigation

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  1. Develop driving question that will focus student inquiry:
    • Question should be provocative
    • Question encourages investigation and discussion
    • Question should align to central concepts / skills in standards
    • Question should deepen students’ knowledge of history as an interpretative discipline
    • Question should emphasize disciplinary concepts such as:
      • causality
      • chronology
      • multiple perspectives
      • contingency
      • empathy
      • change and continuity over time
      • influence / significance / effect
      • contrasting interpretations
      • intent / motivation
  2. Initiate the investigation
    • Access prior knowledge by co-examining a primary source such as: poem, journal entry, map, broadside, political cartoon, etc.
    • Hook students’ attention and introduce context for event / person being studied
  3. Conduct the investigation
    • Expose students to relevant and conflicting historical sources that allow students to investigate all aspects of the event
    • Analyze one document individually
      • annotate information
      • extract who, what, when, where, why
      • determine answers about
        • context
          • what was going on during the time period?
          • what background info helps explain info in the source?
        • subtext
          • who created the source and what do we know about that person?
          • for whom was the source created?
          • why was this source produced when it was?
        • how do these answers affect central question
      • Group individual students so that all documents are represented in a group.  Help them use their documents and annotations to :
        • generate and share interpretations of documents based on focus question
        • cite evidence to support interpretations
        • not all group members need to accept all interpretations at this point
  4. Report interpretations and class discussion
    • Share interpretations and discuss sources that most influenced their decisions and why
    • Discuss and compare / contrast interpretations
  5. Debrief student investigations
    • Facilitate a teacher-driven discussion that solidifies basic historical facts and clarifies reasons for varying interpretations
  6. Assess student comprehension of content of the past and historical thinking
    • Assess students’ understanding of history content and process
3-sowhat
The structure of this historical investigation project sequence resembles the “You do, We do, I do” sequence promoted by Jo Baoler for math lessons.  Giving students opportunities to read sources while trying to answer provocative questions can make students more critical and careful with the sources they read and examine.  Letting students formulate and defend historical hypotheses and conclusions based on cited evidence teachers students historical content and process.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Analyze standards and identify enduring understandings, key skills and supporting knowledge.  Develop learning targets targets based on these.
  • Develop a provocative driving question that relates to learning targets.
  • Gather a variety of conflicting sources.
  • Develop thinking sheets that guide students to analyze sources.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Launch project and present driving question.  Examine engaging compelling sources to formulate initial hypotheses
  • Examine sources individually using thinking sheets
  • Form jigsaw teams and develop interpretations of sources within the teams
  • Facilitate discussion that have students share and compare / contrast interpretations
  • Facilitate a debrief discussion that highlights key historical information and explains variety of competing interpretations
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • After students are familiar with this process, let them find their own primary sources to test their hypotheses.
  • Scaffold a historical writing piece that documents students’ hypotheses, questions, conclusions and cited evidence
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196: Making Historical Thinking a Reality

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Features of Traditional Method of Teaching History:
  • History textbook is the core instrument
  • Teaching / learning processes:
    • reading textbook
    • lectures, movies
    • memorization, fact retention
    • unanalyzed consumption of facts provided by an expert
    • providing evidence of mastery = regurgitating textbook
    • learning linear narrative of history provided by experts
    • assessments:
      • textbook questions
      • true / false statements
      • crossword puzzles
      • tests based on textbook
    • aim to present history as an engaging subject – not necessarily as a dynamic subject
Features of Historical Thinking Method of Teaching History:
  • Examines different types of sources
  • Teaching / Learning processes
    • debate
    • investigation
    • analyzing evidence
    • interpreting evidence
  • Aim to present history as a useful, living subject
Inspiration from Other Subjects:
  • In Math, students learn:
    • concepts and how to apply them
    • how to “show their work”
    • tools and habits of mind and how to use them
  • In Science, students learn:
    • scientific method and how to document it in lab reports
    • how to draw conclusions based on observations and data
    • how to use tools used by scientists
  • In English, students learn:
    • learn literacy devices and how to analyze them in books and utilize them in writing
    • how to question the text
    • connect author’s biography with their work
    • place stories within their historical context so they can be understood as products of their time and place
  • Application to history teaching:
    • What’s missing from traditional history teaching:
      • explicit teaching on how history knowledge is created (instead focus on making known facts engaging
      • process is cut out to create more room to cover a lot of content in a superficial way
Content vs Process:
  • Striking a balance:
    • Too much process – might become hands on, but not minds on
    • Too much content – may bore students with too many facts
  • History standards encode too much content and not a lot of process
  • Content can not be an end in itself because content that is not used is easily forgotten.
  • Historical laboratory (Phil Nicolosi & Nike Walsh)
    • students confront information (experiment)
    • students draw conclusions (analyze data)
    • students defend their hypotheses (lab write-ups)
Connections to Past Research
  • Foci of History Ed Research:
    • how historians create and represent historical knowledge
    • whether or not students can replicate processes of historians in a classroom
  • Misconceptions of History Education
    • it’s about learning / teaching a lot of historical trivia
    • need to learn a lot of background knowledge before one can know enough to investigate historical driving questions
  • The Importance of Questions
    • driving questions frame the learning
    • teacher needs to explicitly teach process skills related to historical thinking
    • purpose of essential questions
      • engage students by presenting history as a mystery or controversy
      • provide a purpose for learning new information = gathering evidence to investigate the question
      • draw students into exploring the past
Formulating and Articulating Questions
  • Thinking like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction focus historical categories around 5 categories:
    1. Cause and effect
    2. Change and continuity
    3. Turning points
    4. Using the points
    5. Through their eyes
  • Using these 5 categories allows for spiraling and building of a common language for examining the past
  • Other categories:
    • multiple perspectives
    • historical contingency
    • empathy
    • influence / significance / impact
    • contrasting interpretations of the past
    • intent / motivation
  • 7 criteria for effective historical driving questions:
    1. Does the question represent an important issue to historical and contemporary issues?
    2. Is the question debatable?
    3. Does the question represent a reasonable amount of content?
    4. Will the question sustain the interest of students?
    5. Is the question appropriate to available materials?
    6. Is the question challenging for your students?
    7. What organizing concepts will be emphasized?
How Historians Work:
  • Historians ask questions – see above
  • Historians gather a variety of sources and ask questions of those sources:
    • investigate sources to formulate tenable interpretations about events, personalities and ideas about the past (hypotheses)
    • be aware variety and pitfalls of primary sources
    • interrogate the sources
    • use sources to answer historical questions
    • compare, contrast and apply sources to questions
    • Questions students can ask of sources:
      • Text:
        • What information is provided by the source?
      • Context:
        • What was going on during the time period?
        • What background info helps explain the information found in the source?
      • Subtext:
        • What is between the lines?
          • Author: Who wrote the piece and what do we know about that person?
          • Audience: For whom was the source created?
          • Reason: Why was this source produced when it was?
  • Historians develop, defend and revise interpretations: 
    • history is about multiple interpretations – no one right answer
      • who, what, when, where – can be non-debatable
      • why, how and impact – debatable
    • judgement – building and evaluating interpretations grounded in evidence
    • interpretations are living – change as context, eyes, and evidence change
    • debate and interpret historical evidence
    • develop, define and revise evidence-based historical interpretations
For a model for how to conduct a historical investigation with students, go to this article:  Facilitating a historical investigation.

 

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Teaching a curriculum in ways that balance content and process is key to teaching students in ways that are memorable and transferable.  The 7 criteria for driving questions can be used to improve historical driving questions and driving questions in other subjects.   The questions students can ask of texts can be used or adapted for courses other than history to help students examine the contents, contexts, and subtexts in the sources.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Analyze standards to identify enduring understandings, key skills and supporting knowledge.  Develop learning targets based on this analysis.
  • Develop a driving question for the project.  Use the 7 criteria for driving questions about to evaluate and improve driving question.
  • Find primary sources that students can use to investigate the driving questions.
  • Adapt questions students can use to analyze sources (see above)
Early Implementation Steps
  • Launch project with driving question
  • Coach students to investigate driving questions using a variety of sources.  Use source analysis questions to help students examine sources closely.
  • Guide students as they formulate and test their hypotheses.
  • Guide and challenge students as they formulate conclusions based on evidence.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Research and scaffold how to read and write genres that are important to  historians.  Explicitly teach these skills to students.

 

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195: PBL Tips on Managing the Process

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At project start, make sure students are on the right track:
  • Help students brainstorm next steps (such as research plans) prior to beginning those processes
  • Hold early private meetings with teams while the rest work on other assignments (ex: background reading assignment) to vet and give feedback on their next steps and research questions
  • Require deliverables with early work sessions to make sure students are making progress and gaining momentum
  • Provide milestones, benchmarks and templates to support students in managing projects
Tailor grouping strategies to project needs:
  • Vary out grouping methods: student choice, teacher choice, random draw, etc
  • Aim for heterogeneous groups that team up students who are advanced with students who struggle
  • Grouping friends together works well with projects that require a lot of work outside class time
  • If a project requires a lot of different skills, may aim to form teams that include students who have those skills as a whole when combined in teams
  • Mixed method – students choose pairs and then teacher chooses which pairs to combine into teams of 4
  • Make grouping appear random even when it is actually very deliberate
  • Expert -> jigsaw teams – expert teams become very verses in 1 topic and then jigsaw teams are formed to include one of each type of expert
  • Use knowledge of students to create balanced teams
  • Sometimes when students choose their own teams end up with several strong teams and several unfocused teams
  • Could make students apply to be on teams
  • Have students conduct a team inventory of their skills and compare that to the skills needed to complete the project – if there is a mismatch they can lobby to switch team members to better align their team’s skills to the project
  • Fake Autonomy – group all students into 3-4 colors.  Students who should not work together share the same color.  Ask students to form teams that include one student of each color
  • Can have students submit 1st and 2nd choice for partners and try to honor their requires while forming balanced teams
  • Can have students rank their interests from a list of topics and form teams based on common interests
Plan how to accommodate the needs of diverse students
  • Plan in remediation time for students who don’t get it the first couple times
  • Have students develop a portfolio that crosses projects so they can access resources throughout the year
  • Use knowledge of students to provide different types / levels of support to different students
  • Students can get help from teachers, other students, the library, the internet, etc.
  • Try to allow for time for students to work with their friends or work on a topic they are interested in
  • For more on differentiating for various needs, see this article: Clustering student needs for more efficient planning
Intervene with students who are not carrying their own weight:
  • Sometimes let teams go through the firing process and then the student needs to work alone.  Or that students can produce a body of work and apply for a rehire from another team.
  • For teams that complain about team members not working, facilitate a meeting to renegotiate and tighten timelines.  Add more details to timelines including action item descriptions, action item owners, and specific deadlines.
  • Inform parents when their child is missing checkpoints and brainstorm together how to improve students’ project and self management skills.
  • Have individuals and teams reflect on group processes so they can become more aware and communicate to each other and the teacher about their group concerns and problems.
  • Brainstorm with teams who are stuck or off task on ways to become more motivated and focused.
Keep track of each group’s progress
  • Move a lot! Use the proximity effect (location matters more than content) to coach students working in teams
  • Set clear benchmarks and deadlines and have quick touch-in meetings to check on teams’ progress and answer questions and concerns
  • Let students complete a project planning form and then have a review meeting around that form.
  • Use checklists or 3×5 cards to record group observations
  • Instruct teams to maintain group folders that include all their logs and product artifacts.
Make sure groups keep track of their own progress
  • Instruct groups to meet and record who attended the meeting, what was accomplished, the meeting agenda, data, location
Keep public records of group progress:
  • Maintain a public accountability chart that shoes what benchmarks teams have completed – make this a graphic display that everyone can see
  • Allow time at the start and end of work days to set and track team goals
The Internet is only one information resources.  Students often need help to use it efficiently
  • Use school librarian as a project partner
  • Provide students with a starter list of helpful websites
  • Teach students how to analyze the content of websites and evaluate whether or not they possess the prerequisite knowledge to understanding the web content
  • Teach students how to evaluate the validity and quality of web sources
Technology can be a powerful tool; it can also crash and burn.
  • Trial and troubleshoot tech before using it in a project
  • Identify people who can help you troubleshoot technology
Don’t use tech blindly.  Select tech that enhances student learning
  • Select tech that addresses the meat of the project effectively
  • Before using a tool ask: What can be accomplished by this tool?  Can we do this using simpler tools?
  • Allow time to train students how to use selected technology.
  • Use tech only when it is appropriate and enhances student learning.
Don’t be afraid to make mistake
  • When mistakes are made, model how to fail forward by brainstorming solutions with students
Don’t be afraid of making mid project corrections
  • When students are missing essential info, let students know how / when class will get together to fill in the gap
  • Rethink timelines if you realize that students can’t meet the original timeline or are ready and willing to do more
  • When problems arise, hold a class meeting to debrief the situation and brainstorm and select solutions
  • Renegotiate expectations with teams that run into unexpected obstacles – focus new expectations on what’s critical to learn
Debrief project with your class and ask for project feedback
  • 2 questions:
    • What is of lasting value to the learner as a result of completing this project?
    • What is of lasting value to the community as a result of completing this project?
  • Show students models of good reflection before they start generating reflective comments.
  • Ask students
    • what didn’t work and why and possible alternatives?
    • what the fell they did well in the project?
    • what they feel didn’t go well?
    • what grade do they deserve and why?
    • are you proud of your end product?
    • how could end product be better?
  • Could gather feedback on overall project and specific end products on sticky notes
  • Keep student and teacher notes on project improvements in a secure place
  • Processing time is well worthwhile – set aside time for it
Reflecting on the Driving Question
  • Reflect on the driving question to review content and hopefully make long lasting learning connections

 

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Effective (poor) project management can make (break) a project.  Students need support developing skills related to self- and project-management.  Setting aside time to scaffold these skills and using templates to reinforce / guides these skills will make students more effective at learning within PBL projects.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Analyze standards and create related list of academic learning targets.
  • Create project products and expectations.  Create an inventory of skills students need to have to be successful in the project.
  • Create character learning targets that are skills in the inventory that students may not have yet.
  • Design scaffolding and templates for character learning targets.
  • Select and troubleshoot technology that advances learning
Early Implementation Steps
  • Set aside time in projects to scaffold character learning targets.
  • Provide feedback on templates that scaffold project and self management process in touch-in meetings
  • Provide opportunities for students to set and track their goals throughout the project
  • Facilitate a post-project reflection discussion to gather feedback on what worked and alternatives to problems
  • Use variety of grouping methods that enhance project goals
  • Select and use technology that advances student learning; scaffold the tech
  • Intervene / support teams / individual students who are struggling
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Ask upperclassmen to coach / mentor students in project management skills
  • Ask experienced students to design their own project planning forms
  • Use tech to update group accountability charts in real time
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