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Move Over, Memorization!

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Kim Todt- University of Louisiana at Lafayette …

Kim Todt- University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Of course your students can think, but getting them to think critically about history is another story! Students need to learn how to evaluate evidence and craft arguments that support or refute a particular idea, as well as be able to read maps and understand the geographical underpinnings of events and historical trends. Cultivating critical thinking skills is something that every faculty member must do, but how do you do it in a way that engages students and saves you time? Join Professor Kim Todt from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, as she discusses proven tools and techniques to do just that!

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    • 1. MOVE OVER, MEMORIZATIO N! Getting Your Students To Think Critically About History Presented by: Kim Todt, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
    • 2. WEBINAR GOALS • To assist students to think critically about history • To demonstrate some of the tools available for History instructors
    • 3. WEBINAR GOALS • Why is Critical Thinking so important? • Because the dean of my college says so? • More and more employers want college graduates who they employ to have: • Critical Thinking Skills • Complex Problem-Solving Skills • Written and Oral Communication Skills, and • Applied Knowledge in Real-World Settings
    • 4. Critical Thinking • What is Critical Thinking?
    • 5. Critical Thinking • What is Critical Thinking? • The mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion • Reality – what we do everyday • The problem – how to implement in classroom
    • 6. The Basics What Tools Are Available in a History Course? • The History Textbook – obvious, traditional, relevant • Assignments that Encouraging Student Engagement – Reacting to the Past (role playing) • Using Primary Sources – Library of Congress, State Historical Societies, what is available in your library or local archive that has local appeal • Technology – YouTube videos, Digital History projects (e.g. University of Virginia – Salem Witchcraft, The Valley of the Shadow)
    • 7. What’s the Main Point? • Give a student a primary source without any instruction and there are problems • Not always easy to spot, don’t understand language differences, don’t understand the historical context – so they say • After addressing the basics (who, what, where, etc.) examine the same document with further questions
    • 8. What’s the Main Point? For a primary document:  Look at the beginning  Look at the end  Look at the middle  Look for words that urge a position  Look for causation or conclusion words  Look for words that express priorities
    • 9. Student Engagement • The Investigative Student Historian and their tool box • Gives students the opportunity to engage with original, contemporary, and historical works – and empowerment • Students see their role as ―history detectives‖ as fun • The Introduction of Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? • Instructor-led exercise in class • Group/Pairs exercise in class • Group/Pairs exercise outside of class • Use student’s new investigative skills for assessment purposes on exams
    • 10. What’s the Main Point? ‖An evening or two after Robert's burial, I was leaning on the hatchway near the forecastle, full of desponding thoughts, when a sailor in a kind voice asked me why I was so down-hearted. The tone and manner of the man assured me, and I answered, because I was a freeman, and had been kidnapped. He remarked. that it was enough to make any one down-hearted, and continued to interrogate me until he learned the particulars of my whole history. He was evidently much interested in my behalf, and, in the blunt speech of a sailor, swore he would aid me all he could, if it "split his timbers." I requested him to furnish me pen, ink and paper, in order that I might write to some of my friends. He promised to obtain them—but how I could use them undiscovered was a difficulty. If I could only get into the forecastle while his watch was off, and the other sailors asleep, the thing could be accomplished. The small boat instantly occurred to me. He thought we were not far from the Balize, at the mouth of the Mississippi, and it was necessary that the letter be written soon, or the opportunity would be lost. Accordingly, by arrangement, I managed the next night to secret myself again under the long-boat. His watch was off at twelve. I saw him pass into the forecastle, and in about an hour followed him. He was nodding over a table, half asleep, on which a sickly light was flickering, and on which also was a pen and sheet of paper. As I entered he aroused, beckoned me to a seat beside him, and pointed to the paper. I directed the letter to Henry B. Northup, of Sandy Hill—stating that I had been kidnapped, was then on board the brig Orleans, bound for New-Orleans; that it was then impossible for me to conjecture my ultimate destination, and requesting he would take measures to rescue me. The letter was sealed and directed, and Manning, having read it, promised to deposit it in the New-Orleans post-office. I hastened back to my place under the long-boat, and in the morning, as the slaves came up and were walking round, crept out unnoticed and mingled with them.‖ From Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup
    • 11. What’s the Main Point? ‖An evening or two after Robert's burial, I was leaning on the hatchway near the forecastle, full of desponding thoughts, when a sailor in a kind voice asked me why I was so down-hearted. The tone and manner of the man assured me, and I answered, because I was a freeman, and had been kidnapped. He remarked. that it was enough to make any one down-hearted, and continued to interrogate me until he learned the particulars of my whole history. He was evidently much interested in my behalf, and, in the blunt speech of a sailor, swore he would aid me all he could, if it "split his timbers." I requested him to furnish me pen, ink and paper, in order that I might write to some of my friends. He promised to obtain them—but how I could use them undiscovered was a difficulty. If I could only get into the forecastle while his watch was off, and the other sailors asleep, the thing could be accomplished. The small boat instantly occurred to me. He thought we were not far from the Balize, at the mouth of the Mississippi, and it was necessary that the letter be written soon, or the opportunity would be lost. Accordingly, by arrangement, I managed the next night to secret myself again under the long-boat. His watch was off at twelve. I saw him pass into the forecastle, and in about an hour followed him. He was nodding over a table, half asleep, on which a sickly light was flickering, and on which also was a pen and sheet of paper. As I entered he aroused, beckoned me to a seat beside him, and pointed to the paper. I directed the letter to Henry B. Northup, of Sandy Hill—stating that I had been kidnapped, was then on board the brig Orleans, bound for New-Orleans; that it was then impossible for me to conjecture my ultimate destination, and requesting he would take measures to rescue me. The letter was sealed and directed, and Manning, having read it, promised to deposit it in the New-Orleans post-office. I hastened back to my place under the long-boat, and in the morning, as the slaves came up and were walking round, crept out unnoticed and mingled with them.‖ From Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup
    • 12. What’s the Main Point? For an image  What’s the largest object in the image?  What did the creator put in the center?  What is on the periphery or in the background?  Where does your eye wander?  Do you have a reaction to any objects or persons in the image?
    • 13. What’s the Main Point? To conclude the exercise, ask students  The main thing the author or artist is trying to say is….  Two less important points are….  Or, go through this assignment with the image and then look at the depositions and trial testimony of witnesses from the Boston Massacre Trial. Paul Revere’s engraving begins to resemble a piece of propaganda. This then leads to a discussion about propaganda and its uses and by whom.
    • 14. Identifying Underlying Assumptions • Pick a piece with obvious biases or omissions • Main Points • Audience • Values • Standards • Biases • Omissions • Once students gain confidence, up the stakes with something less obvious
    • 15. Identifying Underlying Assumptions • To conclude the exercise, ask students • The author’s most important values seem to be… • The author might be biased about…
    • 16. Identifying Point of View • What is the author’s conceptual framework, or point of view? • Allows you to put the document or image in context • Go back and look at identified audience and purpose of the document or image. Look at the main points and assumptions from Steps 2 and 3. What do they have in common? • Ideas: Start with something that is propaganda – Hakluyt’s writings to encourage settlement in English colonies • But what about something more subtle – writings by George Washington for instance
    • 17. Identifying Point of View • Is there any jargon or key vocabulary? • What authorities does the author appeal to? • Pairs of issues identification: • Freedom vs. Authority (Franklin’s writings vs. King George III) • Local/Regional vs. National (Shay’s Rebellion vs. Washington/Hamilton’s concerns) • Personal Liberty vs. Public Order
    • 18. Identifying Point of View • Can students label an author’s point of view using labels appropriate for the time period? • For example: • Reactionary • Progressive • Patriot • Feminist • Conservative • Etc.
    • 19. Reasoning • Most documents or images try to make a point or reach a conclusion by offering reasons For example, Political cartoons are great to use and available from the 17th century onward
    • 20. Reasoning • Questions to Consider: • What is the author’s most important point, central proposition, or main conclusion – what prompted the author to create the text or image?  What reasons does the author give to persuade you that you should agree with it?
    • 21. Reasoning • Examining the clarity of the author’s argument • Definition of terms • Precision • Logical consistency • Relevance
    • 22. Evaluating Evidence • The evidence offered to the reader should answer the question, ―How do you know?‖ • Types of Evidence: • Personal Experiences • Appeal to the Experiences of Others
    • 23. Assessing Completeness • Most important issues have more than two sides • A matter of judgment about what an author includes in a document and what he/she leaves out • Depth and breadth of argument
    • 24. Assessing Completeness • To assess completeness ask yourself the following questions: • Are there any omissions? • Is the issue simplified or does the author address the complexities? • Are other points of view taken into account?
    • 25. Critical Thinking in the Classroom Here is some of what I do in my classrooms: • Have students play roles, e.g., Facebook Project • Use charts and graphics, e.g., digitizing history • Assign questions for students to answer about their reading • Have students paraphrase a document’s argument in their own words • Have students write dialogues about an issue, e.g., Privateer and a ―Golden Age‖ pirate • Create a class website in which work from the semester is on-line and available for all to see • Let students see primary sources from my own work
    • 26. Critical Thinking in the Classroom • During discussions….  Ask General Clarification Questions  Ask Main Point Questions  Ask Reason-Seeking Questions  Ask Questions Seeking Relevance Between Reasons and Conclusions  Ask Questions Seeking Clarification of Meaning  This takes time at the beginning of the semester, but it becomes easier
    • 27. Critical Thinking in the Classroom • Structuring Assignments (and even exams) • Explain how…? • How do you know that…? • What are the strengths and weaknesses of… • What does…mean? • What would be the opposite point of view of…? • Why do you think that…? • Why is…important?
    • 28. The History Textbook CengageBrain’s MindTap • A People and a Nation by Norton, Sheriff, Blight, et al. • Full and Brief Editions • e-textbook – students engagement with technology • Assists with assessment • Chapter activities and quizzes • The substantive knowledge of my class has increased
    • 29. Move Over, Memorization! This concludes my presentation….. Thank you for attending this Webinar.

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