Learning how to analyze documents, critically think about topics, draw conclusions, and supportarguments with evidence are all essential pieces of thinking historically. Each VOA teacher participantis responsible for developing one lesson plan that engages students in historical inquiry. The lessons thatwe create will be modeled after the lessons and lesson structures that are currently part of the StanfordHistory Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian Curriculum (http://sheg.stanford.edu/?q=node/45).
Reading Like a Historian lesson plans generally follow a three-part (before-during-after) structure. In the“before” component of the lesson, teachers help students review or build historical backgroundknowledge and introduce the central historical question. During the application or “during” stage ofthe lesson, students are challenged to critically read or investigate a set of historical documents byusing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, close reading, corroboration, andcomparative thinking. Documents can be modified for groups of students at varying grade levels,reading skills, and abilities. To help students frame their thoughts during the lesson, the teacher willprovide guiding questions or a graphic organizer. The last and arguably most important part of thelesson is the follow-up discussion and/or assignment. This is where students have a chance to supporttheir thoughts with evidence by having a vigorous class debate or discussion, writing a persuasiveresponse or essay, or completing another appropriate culminating performance-based assessment.
The lesson that you are being asked to produce will fall into one of the five basic lesson types
1) Opening up the Textbook (OUT) – Students examine a textbook excerpt and historical documentsthat expand or challenge the textbook’s account.
2) Cognitive Apprenticeship – Teachers spiral students learning by explicitly modeling historical readingstrategies, followed by a teacher-led guided practice, and ultimately independent studentpractice.
3) Inquiry – Students investigate historical questions by analyzing documents, developing a thesis, anddrawing conclusions based on evidence (similar to a traditional DBQ). The Inquiry approach can bemodified to include Document Clusters or Museum Exhibits to give the students additionalbackground information or more complete picture on selected topics.
4) Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) – Students work in pairs, then teams as they explore ahistorical question. After taking opposing positions on a question, they try to arrive at a consensus orat least clarify differences.
5) 1st, 2nd, 3rd Order Approach – A systematic approach for analyzing and finding connectionsbetween a 1st Order Document (primary or central source), 2nd Order Documents (Corroborate orchallenge the primary document – provided by the teacher), and 3rd Order Documents(Corroborate or challenge the 1st and 2nd Order Documents – provided by students).
After going through these options, teacher participants can decide which lesson type best fits theirstudents’ grade level and needs. Additional information about the first four types and sample lessonscan be found at (http://sheg.stanford.edu/?q=node/45). To find out more about the 1st, 2nd, 3rd OrderApproach, please refer to Chapter 7 in the Engagement in Teaching History book.
In the end, the VOA lesson plans and those found on the Reading Like a Historian website will provideour teacher participants with a solid library of lessons that can be integrated into their curriculum on aregular basis. For easy access, the lesson plans will be archived at http://voicesofarmeriatah.org.
1. Increase the historical knowledge of the participating teachers in the time periods and topicsaddressed in Voices of America Teaching American History Grant Program.
2. Increase participants’ understanding of historical thinking and inquiry-based learning.
3. Increase the ability of teachers to plan, create, and implement grade-level appropriatehistorical thinking lesson plans.
4. Create a bank of historical thinking lessons to be utilized by American history teachers.
Online Resources and References
Process and Activities
Reading Like a Historian Website – http://sheg.stanford.edu/?q=node/45
Library of Congress, Using Primary Sources Website -http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/index.html
Historical Thinking Matters Website- http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/
National History Education Clearinghouse Website – http://teachinghistory.org/
Historical Scene Investigation Website – http://web.wm.edu/hsi/index.html
National Archives, Sourcing Tools – http://www.archives.gov/nae/education/
National History Project Website - http://history.illinoisstate.edu/nhp/guide.html
National Archives, Docsteach Website – http://docsteach.org/tools
History Detectives Website – http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/
Primary Source Collections
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - http://www.gilderlehrman.org/
National Archives, Digital Vaults Website - http://www.digitalvaults.org/#
Library of Congress, Primary Source Sets -http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/
Library of Congress, American Memory – http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html
Ohio Historical Society, Ohio Memory - http://www.ohiomemory.org/
Ashbrook Center Document Library – http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/
1. Title Page (including Lesson Title, Grade Level for Lesson , Teacher Name, and District Name)
2. Plan of Instruction (Provide enough detail so that colleague can use the lesson)
• Central Historical Question
• Materials List
• “Before” Activity (motivating activity and provides adequate background knowledge)
• “During” Activity (utilizes sourcing, contextualizing, close reading, corroboration andcomparative thinking reading strategies)
• “After” Activity (includes a discussion and/or performance-based activity that answers thecentral historical question)
• Paragraph with helpful hints to conduct the lesson most effectively
• Citation of Sources
3. Student Handout
• Primary and Secondary Source Documents with Sourcing Information (Scaffold as neededby modifying the document, including vocabulary definitions, and/or providing additionalbackground information)
• Guided Questions and/or Graphic Organizers
4. Support Materials (PowerPoint Presentations, Hook Activities, Background Essay, Lecture Notes,Video Clips, Sound Recordings, Photos, Maps, Timelines, etc.)