Approaches to teaching history have significantly changed from being a linear subject laden with dates, timelines, and memorization to requiring a greater understanding thematically. Students are encouraged to make connections over time, continuity and change, the impact of technological advancement on society and industry, the peopling of the world, how previous events have future impacts on geopolitical relationships. Historic thinking is something that needs to be modeled and taught. Connecting the dots historically can be a daunting task with a tremendous amount of a priori knowledge, without knowing the basics it can be nearly impossible. To combat the issue of not having the necessary depth of knowledge, a simple solution can make all of the difference in the world. Creating a library of Primary Source Reader sets will allow students to quickly ascertain the most important documents and significant points of different historical time periods.
Many students when surveyed prefer tactile versions of reading to connect with information as opposed to digital presentations. Currently, in the Social Studies Department, we are attempting to implement Document Based Questions as our summative evaluations. . I have used primary source readers in the past to help students study for the AP United States History test and they served as great tools enabling students to remind themselves of different historical events and their implications. Simplifying information and allowing students to make inferences after reading the bare bones history is a powerful teaching tool. The texts are accessible to many of our school populations due to the simplistic reading level that includes rich time period primary sources.
Success can be easily ascertained through visual analysis. Student engagement will indicate if the resources being used in class are valuable and useful to many populations in our school. A more quantifiable indicator of success will be their performance on Document Based Questions that we are implementing in our Social Studies Department as a form of summative evaluation. Generally speaking, items purchased from Teacher’s Discovery are engaging and have been very successful when different items have been purchased in years past. These resources will be available to all students in our Social Studies Department grades 9-12, Resource student populations, struggling readers, English Language Learners, and any other students interested in historical topics to support learning in other areas; such as literature from different time periods. Currently, I am in possession of a minimal amount of these readers and they have proven to be very useful for student learning, test preparation, and the understanding of time periods specific to projects that they are working on.
Books will be available for reference at all times in my classroom. A list of the titles that are available will be given to all teachers so that they are able to provide differentiated materials to their students that are working on specific projects, that need a greater knowledge base to understand assigned literature, or to provide background knowledge on a historic time or event that may be relevant to their course of study. The small paddle dry erase boards, pens, and erasers will be used to quiz one another on the primary sources listed in the readers in small groups of students. They will be making a game out of studying so that they are having fun while learning. Visually I will be able to check for understanding by witnessing what is being written on the small whiteboards. There are flashcard games included and historic thinking posters included in the grant to be used to remind students of the process for thinking about history in all history courses.
The items included in this grant are meant to be shared schoolwide. A specific set of readers for United States History would be useful if each classroom teacher in the subject area, had their own class set. There are a total of three teachers that will be instructing United States History next year, so there are a couple of items that have been requested three times to used for specific instruction in their classroom.
Extra funding that was available earlier in the month was used to request materials that would support AP students for test preparation. These materials are meant to support a wide range of students from English Language learners, general education students and Ap students prepping for tests and attempting to further their understanding of the Social Sciences shaped by historical events in all areas within this discipline. No matching funding has been found specifically for these resources.
A sample of the text will be provided when the grant is presented at School Site Council. Thank you for the opportunity to write this grant. Throughout the years Excellence in Education has enhanced my classroom immensely through your generosity. Thankfully, Jennifer Jurosky