Welcome to Best Practices

Cherokee Law of Blood
In Examples of Historical Thinking
An Introduction to Historical Thinking and Reading
In Examples of Historical Thinking
Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr.
In Examples of Historical Thinking

Spotlight on Elementary Education

Oral histories and interviews are a unique form of historical documentation. This guide by Linda Shopes offers an overview of the various ways oral history can be integrated into classroom discussions. Though some of the techniques will have to be adapted for elementary students, the ideas Shopes presents are extremely useful. FIND OUT MORE »

Example of Historical Thinking

Scholars, students, and teachers model historical thinking
Women's Suffrage Cartoon

How does a political cartoon use popular beliefs about women to make its [...] »

John Smith Map

Watch Smithsonian curator Barbara Clark Smith discuss John Smith’s Map of [...] »

Seeing (and Engaging in) Historical Thinking: A Tutorial

This interactive tutorial models a four-step process for analyzing [...] »

The Iran Hostage Crisis: Diary of Robert Ode

Diaries give a personal view of historical events. Historian Peter Hahn [...] »

John Brown's Body

Chandra Manning discusses the song “John Brown's Body,” and how music can be [...] »

Teaching in Action

Teachers demonstrate promising teaching practices
Causal Reasoning

The fictional Alphonse the Camel provides insight for one classroom.

[...] »
Using Maps as Primary Sources

A 4th-grade teacher shows strategies for encouraging and supporting student [...] »

Using Primary Sources

Strategies for analyzing primary sources
Making Sense of Documentary Photography
Photo, "Street Arabs in Sleeping...," Jacob A. Riis, c. 1880s, History Matters.

Textbook illustrations are often overlooked as historical evidence.

[...] »
Critically Analyzing Information Sources
Photography, Montana receives honorary degree from American University, 7 June 1

This source from Cornell University's Olin and Uris Libraries includes [...] »

Teaching with Textbooks

Techniques for promoting historical inquiry
The Grammar of History Textbooks Part II: Questioning the Text
Marginalia, CHNM

Turn your textbook into a conversation by scanning its language for biases [...] »

Children’s Voices from the Civil War
Negative, "Sgt. John Clem, U.S.A.," 1855-1865, Library of Congress

Help students identify with the past via children who lived through the [...] »

Building a Conversation between Textbooks, Students, and Teachers

Class discussion and personal inquiry builds an interactive relationship [...] »

Opening Up the Textbook
Negative, "Schoolroom. Concho, Arizona," Russell Lee, Oct. 1940, LoC

Make the most of your textbook—engage students in close reading and analysis [...] »

Using Historiography to Analyze the Mexican-American War
Print, "Bombardment of Vera Cruz," 1893-1896, J. Andre Castaigne, NYPL

Allow students to see that history as we know it is interpretation, [...] »