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  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Lee Donaghy: Writing Like a Historian -- Developing Students' Writing Skills

    Lee Donaghy is an assistant principal at a secondary school in Birmingham in the United Kingdom."Why are we doing English in history, sir?" came the question as I asked my year 9 history class what kind of word disarmament was. Having anticipated this kind of reaction I had an answer prepared: "Do we only use language in English lessons?"The question was anticipated because I have heard it from other classes, and indeed other teachers, since I began to include an explicit focus on language development in my history lessons 18 months ago. And the question goes to the heart of what I believe is a fundamental reason for the attainment gap between children eligible for free school meals and their non-free school meal counterparts in Britain; the misalignment of these pupils' language use with that which is needed for academic success and the need for teachers to explicitly address this misalignment in their teaching.

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Sam Wineburg's "Reading Like a Historian" makes cover of Stanford magazine

    Sam Wineburg, Margaret Jacks Professor of Education and (courtesy) History, is the director of the Stanford History Education Group. Their signature project, "Reading Like an Historian," which promotes a secondary school curriculum based around critical engagement with primary sources, recently made the cover of Stanford's alumni magazine:Designed by the Stanford History Education Group under Professor Sam Wineburg, the website offers 87 flexible lesson plans featuring documents from the Library of Congress. Teachers can download the lessons and adapt them for their own purposes, free of charge. Students learn how to examine documents critically, just as historians would, in order to answer intriguing questions: Did Pocahontas really rescue John Smith? Was Abraham Lincoln a racist? Who blinked first in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Russians or the Americans?Apparently the program has struck a chord. In school districts from red states and blue, New York City and Chicago to Carmel, Calif., history teachers are lining up for workshops on how to use the materials. The website's lessons have been downloaded 800,000 times and spawned a lively online community of history educators grateful for the camaraderie—and often desperate for help.

  • Originally published 04/18/2013

    "Cities are the Living Embodiments of Past Decisions"

     Children in wading pool at Cascade Playground, Seattle, 1939. All photos credit Seattle Museum of History and Industry.Stories about place are makeshift things. They are composed with the world’s debris.--Michel de CerteauIn most undergraduate history classes, students are required to take tests and write a paper or two.But University of Washington history professor Dr. Margaret O’Mara wanted to tap into her students’ curiosity and their relationship with the web and technology for her history of U.S. Cities course last winter.To bring urban history to life for her students and encourage them to explore and see their world in new ways, Dr. O’Mara created an innovative project that focused on Seattle’s dynamic South Lake Union neighborhood, now an area of high-tech businesses, medical clinics, trendy eateries, and pricey real estate.

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    What are the 10 Most Important Documents in American History?

    Announcing the winners in the reader poll "What are the 10 Most Important Documents in American History?" Nearly 800 readers voted -- the most important document in American history is the Marshall Plan!*Note: The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights were specifically EXCLUDED from the poll, since they'd be in the top three practically by default. We wanted to give other documents a chance!

  • Originally published 01/14/2013

    We All Politicize History

    American flags on the National Mall. Credit: Wiki Commons.Here’s an interesting question for historians: Why do ideologues never seem to be aware of their own ideology?Such is the case with the recent report from the Texas Association of Scholars and the National Association of Scholars’ Center for the Study of the Curriculum, “Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?”The groups’ answer to the title’s question is “yes,” which is hardly surprising given the NAS’s longstanding critique of scholars who raise questions about the mythology of American greatness.

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