Doing History: Investigating With Children in Elementary and Middle Schools

Doing History: Investigating With Children in Elementary and Middle Schools

by Linda S. Levstik, Keith C. Barton

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Imagine a group of primary students debating whether Christopher Columbus should be considered a hero, or eighth graders producing a video to examine whether a historic document — the Bill of Rights — speaks to current issues. Imagine classrooms where students regularly, and actively, do history — frame questions, gather data from primary and secondary sources, organize and interpret that data, and share their work with different audiences. Imagine, too, a history curriculum that reflects the rich diversity of people in the United States and around the world.

The authors have spent a number of years working with teachers in just such classrooms. They have seen powerful historical study in classes where many of the children were recent immigrants, as well as in classes where children's families have lived in the same area for nearly two hundred years. Some classes are full inclusion programs where the special education and "regular" teachers team teach; most include students with special needs, at least for social studies. The classrooms range from urban and suburban to rural settings. But despite their differences, these communities of inquiry have several things in common. In each one, even the youngest children describe historical study as interesting and important. Moreover, historical study in each of these classrooms deals with important historical content and engages students in authentic historical inquiry. All students are invited to be historical participants. Throughout the book, the authors draw on these classrooms to provide models of instructionally sound, thoughtful, and thought provoking history teaching with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Most chapters also begin with a vignette from one of these classrooms.

These vignettes serve as snapshots of history in action — including some of the obstacles even good teachers face. Each is a glimpse of a particular experience of teaching and learning history. The chapters put each vignette in perspective — explaining why it is sound instruction and sound history and providing examples of activities ranging from the first years of primary school through the end of the middle grades. In structuring the book this way, the authors suggest a framework for rethinking history instruction at the elementary and middle school levels. Their goal is to stimulate readers' thinking relative to applying the ideas presented here to their own classrooms and students.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805880403
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 03/28/1997
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 240

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Who We Are and Who We Can Become: The Sociocultural Context for Studying History. It's Not Just a Mishap: The Theory Behind Disciplined Inquiry. There Aren't a Lot of 'For Sure' Facts: Building Communities of Historical Inquiry. To Find Out Things We Didn't Know About Ourselves: Personal Histories. Tell Me About Yourself: Linking Children to the Past Through Family Histories. I Think Columbus Went to Hell: Initiating Inquiry Into World History. Rats in the Hospital: Creating a History Museum. I Have No Experience With This! Historical Inquiry in an Integrated Social Studies Setting. Why Isn't That in the Textbook? Fiction, Nonfiction, and Historical Thinking. Oh, Good! We Get to Argue: Putting Conflict in Context. In My Opinion, It Could Happen Again: How Attitudes and Beliefs Have Changed Over Time. Nosotros La Gente: Agency and Perspective in American History. The Arts Make Us All Part of Humankind: Cognitive Pluralism in History Teaching and Learning. Hey, I Know What's Going on Here! Constructive Assessment in History.

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