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“[I use Teachinghistory.org] to look for resources to use in a social studies methods course—both for my own lessons and to give to students.”
A teacher educator and respondent to our recent survey captured two primary reasons she visits Teachinghistory.org. She, like other instructors, is looking for resources for her own curriculum and for high-quality materials for her pre-service teachers. Here at Teachinghistory.org, we have introductory tours and quicklinks for elementary, middle, and high school teachers on our home page. However, teacher educators and methods instructors must currently fend for themselves as they explore our site. I aim to provide an initial guide and point out some of the key features and entries useful for the pre-service classroom. I’ve used most of the following recommendations with my teacher education students or, in some cases, the students themselves have pointed out their value.
Our site focuses on teaching U.S. history, historical thinking, and historical reading and writing. As a methods instructor, one of my key initial goals is to challenge candidates’ ideas about history (and likely experiences with it as a student) as a memorization game or a story told by the textbook. The nature of history, as an inquiry into the past that demands contextualizing sources and adjudicating between multiple accounts, needs to be made explicit for teacher candidates. There are many ways to do this, and some key resources at Teachinghistory.org can help. These include our What is Historical Thinking? video and a set of “instructional frameworks” for historical thinking listed in this blog entry.
These historical thinking frameworks are powerful when coupled with demonstrations. Use examples of historical thinking like this one of a student contextualizing a document or this one of a historian analyzing three 19th-century objects to help candidates “see” and understand historical thinking. Demonstrate what teaching history as inquiry looks like through using model lessons and then debriefing. Find model lessons in our Lesson Plan Reviews or use a sample lesson included in one of our Teaching Guides to engage candidates in this kind of learning. See this example on using webquests or this one on using “history book sets."
Short video clips of teachers in their classrooms can be a great way to show this kind of teaching in action . For example, watch these third–graders learn about child labor during the early 20th century. As one methods instructor reported:
“This site allows my students to see firsthand how these techniques
and methods are used in 'real' settings and enables them to
interrogate the approaches in a more systematic way.”
Demonstration lessons not only work as resources within your methods course, they do double duty as they can become quality materials that your pre-service teachers can use with their own students.
“My students all have to teach multiple lessons throughout the course
of the class. I send them to the site to find supplemental information
and develop ideas for their lessons.”
Start with our Website Reviews . Candidates can search these to find legitimate websites and archives where they can learn more about a historical topic and find resources for teaching. Even the most expert teachers need to brush up on their knowledge of a particular topic or event. This portal can help ease and focus that process.
We have lots of resources for helping candidates think through and structure classwork with materials common to the history classroom, such as textbooks, primary sources, and video. Visit the Using Primary Sources feature to find relevant models and worksheets. Make sure to check out these entries on finding primary sources that list stellar websites that have compiled collections of primary sources with teachers in mind. Teaching with Textbooks includes methods for introducing the textbook as a historical account in need of questioning and as a reference book. Beyond the Textbook takes topics common to the U.S. history curriculum and explains the flaws and holes in standard textbook narratives while providing sources that a teacher could use to counteract such inaccuracies and silences.
And allow me to plug Teaching Guides once again as they focus on using particular instructional strategies in the history classroom and provide not only examples of the strategies, but also steps for using them with additional historical topics. (See here for one about teaching with historic footage.)
This gets at some of the features that methods instructors have told us are most useful to them. But continue exploring and you’ll find other possibilities. Do you teach candidates to understand and use research findings? Browse our Research Briefs for instructive studies. Use Digital Classroom to help candidates learn new technologies and powerful approaches for using these tools in their history classrooms. And see here for links to searchable databases for each of the 50 states’ history/social studies standards.
Finally, given that we have more than 10,000 pieces of content, here are my current top picks for teacher educators.
- What is Historical Thinking? video.
- Rubric for Evaluating Lesson Plans and video introducing Lesson Plan Reviews.
- Content Gateway (Scroll down and look at right sidebar).
- Teaching Guides
- Spotlight pages on specific national holidays
- Teaching in Action—Using Maps as Primary Sources
- Teaching Guide—Teaching with Timelines
- Teaching Guide—Concept Formation
- Using Primary Sources—See-Think-Wonder: A Method for Analyzing Sources
- Lesson Plan Review—My History at School
- Ask a Digital Historian—Historic Images are Everywhere
- Beyond the Chalkboard—VoiceThread in a First-Grade Classroom