Publication Date: August 25, 2023
Series: Research and Practice in Social Studies Series
This practical book addresses the consistent questions that were posed by secondary social studies teachers during professional learning sessions. In particular, it examines ways to break through the inclination and perception expressed by many teachers that “my kids cannot do that.” Drawing on 22 years as a high school history teacher, 7 years as a state level curriculum specialist, and extensive work with in-service teachers across the country, the author provides research-based guidance for engaging students in investigating the past. Lesh examines ways to develop effective questions that guide historical inquires, how to utilize discussion in the classroom, and how to align assessment to inquiry. He also shows teachers how to incorporate difficult histories within an inquiry framework. Each chapter uses a specific lesson, framed by student work, to illuminate approaches in real classroom scenarios. Topics include The Pullman Strike of 1894, the Marcus Garvey question, Dust Bowl Migrants, Mao and Communist China, the LGBTQ+ fight for rights, and multiple lessons from World War I. This follow-up to the author’s book "Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answer?" fills in gaps and expands tools and classroom examples to assist today’s teachers.
Bruce A. Lesh is a former high school teacher in Baltimore County Public Schools, curriculum director at the Maryland State Department of Education, past president of the Maryland Council for the Social Studies, and vice-chair of the National Council for History Education. He has been recognized as the Organization of American Historians Teacher of the Year, and the Maryland Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year.
“Bruce Lesh applies the ideas of historical thinking to practical lessons more effectively than any other history educator. His in-depth discussions and thoughtful hands-on ideas serve as fantastic guides for a lively history classroom.”
—Fritz Fischer, professor, University of Northern Colorado; chair, Council of Distinguished Advisors, National Council for History Education
“In Developing Historical Thinkers, Lesh makes the process of building students’ historical thinking visible to us. Bringing together his own History Labs and national resources like Stanford Historical Education Group, the Right Question Institute, and the C3 Teachers Inquiry Design Model, this book is ideal for those hungry to make the shift to inquiry-based historical thinking. How inspiring for teachers seeking to take the first step toward changing classroom practice, for social studies leaders looking for a practical approach to building systems for historical thinking, and, more importantly, for each student awaiting the opportunity to develop a way of thinking that will last a lifetime.”
—Pier Larsen, director of pre-K–12 social studies, Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, Carrollton, Texas
1. “But My Kids Cannot Do This . . .”: Challenging Perceptions About Historical
My Why, Part I
My Why, Part 2
The History Lab 2.0
The Only Constant Is Change!
2:.“Yes, Your Students Can Do This”: Historical Investigation for All Students
In the Center Ring, Inquiry Versus Coverage and Control
Making the Inquiry Question Accessible for All
Adapting Historical Sources: Political Cartoons and Images
Modifying a Text Source
Scaffolding the Process
3. “Is Every Day a Lab?”: What Happens Between History Labs?
The Twinkies of Lessons
“Is Every Day a Lab?”
Seriously, No Trench Foot, or Tanks, or Mustard Gas?
Woven Into Every Unit
“Like a Prairie Fire . . . ”
What Happens Between History Labs?
4. “Is There an Easy Way to Develop Questions . . .?”: Sorry, No
One Stop Shopping
The Engagement Cliff
The Brain and Questions
Why Questions in Social Studies?
Organizing the Mental Bedroom
Types of Questions
We Learned That in October, You Mean I Was Supposed to Remember That?
Building Lesson-Level Questions
Coverage Demands Choices
“Would You Have Your Student’s Debate Slavery?”
Open Versus Closed Questions
The People in the Past Were Stupid
The Tug of War Between Relevance and Accuracy
A Little Sex Appeal Goes a Long Way
Historical Categories of Inquiry
Typese of Questions
It Is Iterative and Recursive and Frustrating (but Also Exciting)!
Marcus Garvey: The Evolution of a History Lab Question
Having Students Develop Their Own Questions
5. “Discission Is for Classes Like Foreign Language:” Expanding Discussion in the Classroom to Deepen Student Facility With Historical Thinking
Please, Not Another Strike!
Not Going to Do It
It Is Not Just Debates
“I Don’t Feel Comfortable”
Teacher Talk Moves and History
Building Student Capacity for Discussion
Scoring and Feedback
The Pullman Strike of 1894
Setting the Stage
A Hearing Is Now Called to Order!
Discussion and Pullman
6. “My Kids Felt More Seen Today”: Teaching Hard Histories
Why Hard Histories?
Controversial Issues and Hard Histories
Hard Histories and Inquiry
Getting By With the Help of Some Friends!
Structuring the Investigation
It Wasn’t Just Stonewall
“No Union Is More Profound Than Marriage”
What’s the Big Deal?
7. Avoiding the Shame of the Scantron Machine: Assessing Historical Thinking
Social Studies Assessments
I Took Tests; Weren’t They Assessing My Historical Thinking?
Instruction and Assessment Disconnect
No Dates, No Names, Then What Do I Assess?
What Tools Are Available for Teachers?
Formative Assessment Tools for Historical Thinking
“Not Another Essay!”: Exploring Alternative Summative Assessments
Conclusion: “I Don’t Always Mention Those Words”: The Power of Partnerships
Initiating the Partnership
The Planning Meeting
“I Don’t Always Mention Those Words”
About the Author
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