What do you remember best? Hands-on stuff, facts you could relate to?
Teeeeeeeeestsssssss! Are not that helpful. To students, anyway.
Common Core reflect Bloom’s Taxonomy. Although remembering is the least important thing in this age of instant information, it can be crucial to providing context and deeper understanding, particularly with history – however, the teacher can provide that, especially with younger students. Analyzing, evaluating, and creating are much more important in college and the workforce.
Common Core are an outside force exerting pressure to change, but there are inside forces, too. Studies have shown that our students are unprepared for the real world when they graduate high school, but in the rush toward testing history gets forgotten. History too can teach valuable skills and primary sources can help students not only better understand history, but also better evaluate, argue, read, write, and speak. In addition, in an age when everything from movies to TV to the internet has questionable veracity, making students understand the reality of history (it’s not fiction) can help connect them to it. Discussing the realities and fantasies of historical fiction can also help with this.
Many of the ELA standards are applicable to history study, but these literature ones fit particularly well.
Youth-oriented literature can be extremely engaging. I grew up reading American Girl books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and LM Montgomery, all of which shaped my interest in history. Teaching children as young as 3rd grade to evaluate accuracy of literature can help foster healthy skepticism and critical thinking – both skills that will serve them well in high school, college, and beyond.
Here are just a few examples of historical fiction – some modern, some period. When using period literature, it is important to put it in context. When using modern literature, it is important to point out fictionalization (such as with the Dear America series) and highlight the differences between real historical diaries and letters and fictionalized accounts.
History texts are one of the best sources for informational texts. Compare first-hand and second-hand accounts fits in perfectly with primary and secondary sources, or even two primary sources (diary v. newspaper, for instance).
For older students, understanding that published authors can have conflicting views and that those views must be backed up by evidence is important. Often younger students take published works at face value, which can be a dangerous habit once they reach high school and/or college and are expected to think critically about authors and their arguments.
Primary sources can be dry and hard to relate to – by using youth-oriented primary sources students can better connect to historical people and events. Be sure to compare and contrast primary and secondary sources – secondary sources/informational texts also offer much-need context when using primary sources.
Teachers’ section of LOC – includes guides which are excellent, if nationally-focused.
Even LOC agrees that youth-oriented history is important! “The Civil War Through a Child’s Eye” is a lesson plan using primary and secondary sources related to children about the Civil War.
Here is one example of an artifact and photo – a locket with a lock of hair and a handwritten note.
Notice from the note that the child pictured was much older (18?) when he was killed in action, but that this is the only photo his mother had of him.
HRVH home page with search bars – note the difference between HRVH, newspapers, and searching by collection, exhibit, topic, etc.
Item listing. Note image v. text and that both front and back are available.
Forge is also a sequel to Chains – takes place during Rev War NY in addition to addressing slavery.
Cornell Digital Library is a hidden jewel!
CDL home page for collections
Friend of Man was an abolitionist newspaper from upstate NY.
A basic search reveals a snippet on the Amistad.
PG home page
Children’s bookshelf – historical children’s literature
Be sure to read all historical literature yourself first to check for insensitive language.
NPL beta homepage
The Child’s Anti-Slavery Book read in “book” form.
Why would children need to know about slavery? How is slavery portrayed in the book?
Children’s diaries not transcribedUSSC has all sorts of supreme court rulings – just search child labor, for instance, and tons come up – dating back to the 1750s
Extrapolate everyday life to what children’s lives might have been like – compare and contrast to today.Period images can help bring people and places to life. Why no primary sources: difficult to find (i.e. not digitized, or privately held), subject was illiterate (slaves, children, poor laborers, etc.), primary sources did not survive, only wealthy people could afford them (i.e. portraits before photography), etc.
When in doubt, leave it out. Many children will not even likely notice it (see: LM Montgomery), but point out the unacceptable language if you think your kids can handle that discussion. If not, skip those parts or leave them out. Teaching children to be independent and look things up on their own is also important. Transcribe the manuscripts yourself or make it an exercise to go over what the cursive words mean.
Every little bit counts! Simply introducing children to historical literature and primary sources from a kid’s point of view can pique their interest. LOC has some great teacher’s guides for working with primary sources in the classroom if you are not already familiar with doing so.
Younger kids will get more excited about history AND reading if you integrate hands-on activities. For instance, making food related to or directly from the texts, trying to do a task that characters in the books do (sew something, write a letter longhand, play a game).Older kids will appreciate the freedom to do a project THEY are interested in – remember that Common Core do not (currently) require specific historical topics to be discussed during certain grades. Give them a range of time periods and let them loose (with guidelines, of course). Use historical fiction, informational texts, and primary sources. Require a research paper or not, but let them choose.
Is adding historical literature to your classroom reasonable? Can it be done?
Have digital copies of everything for people with jump drives, e-mails, or I can add everything to slideshare.
[THVInstitute13] Shifting Perspectives: Making History Relevant and Relatable to Students