Welcome to Best Practices

Monticello: Jefferson's Experiment
In Examples of Historical Thinking
Making Sense of Oral History
In Using Primary Sources
Seeing (and Engaging in) Historical Thinking: A Tutorial
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
Abolitionist Speeches by African American Women

How do the speeches of Sojourner Truth and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper [...] »

The Election of 1932: Clifford Berryman Cartoon

Donald A. Ritchie, Historian of the U.S. Senate, asks how a political [...] »

The Salem Witch Trials

Absolving the guilty and punishing the innocent. Historian Elizabeth Reis [...] »

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

Teaching the Reconstruction? Ford's Theatre's Sarah Jencks leads teachers [...] »

National Portrait Gallery: Teaching with 19th-Century Portraits

Watch Briana Zavadil White introduce teachers to portraits of inventors and [...] »

Teaching in Action

Teachers demonstrate promising teaching practices
Teaching Historical Interpretation through Planning Documentary Films

Watch this 9th-grade teacher lead his class in planning, writing, and [...] »

What Does It Mean to Be an American?

An 8th-grade teacher asks: Was early 20th-century America a "melting pot" or [...] »

Using Primary Sources

Strategies for analyzing primary sources
Making Sense of Advertisements
Ad, 1954, Linit Perfect Laundry Starch, Ad*Access

Advertisements have surrounded us for years. How can you interpret them? [...] »

Making Sense of American Popular Songs
Vocal score, "Ziegfeld follies. Borrow from me," c. 1912

Don't overlook song as a way of understanding the past.

[...] »

Teaching with Textbooks

Techniques for promoting historical inquiry
Learning Menus: Textbooks a la Carte

Turn your students into 'master chefs' by using learning menus that allow [...] »

Questioning Textbook Authority
Marginalia, CHNM

Show your students how to challenge the authority gap between the textbook [...] »

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 [...] »

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 [...] »

The Grammar of History Textbooks Part II: Questioning the Text
Marginalia, CHNM

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