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Students as Historical Detectives HCPSS Master History Teacher Program January, 2011 Mark Stout.

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Presentation on theme: "Students as Historical Detectives HCPSS Master History Teacher Program January, 2011 Mark Stout."— Presentation transcript:

1 Students as Historical Detectives HCPSS Master History Teacher Program January, 2011 Mark Stout

2 History Research As you have seen or will see in your readings, research over the past 15 years on teaching and learning history has focused on the processes of historical thinking The focus of our grant is on the development of History Labs -- which involves the integration of primary and secondary sources in an investigation of the events of the past This approach to teaching may be new for you and for many of your students

3 What is history? Accounts/narratives different depending on perspective We rely on evidence to construct account of the past We must question the reliability of evidence Any single piece of evidence is insufficient We must use multiple sources to build a plausible account

4 Issues... What are some issues related to the use of primary source documents in the classroom and with using a historical- investigations approach to regular instruction?

5 Students as Historical Detectives The most common concern among teachers in using primary source materials is that is complicates “content coverage” and takes too much time In what ways does a teacher resolve the potential conflict between coverage demands and alternative teaching approaches as they teach history using a historical-investigation approach?

6 Students as Historical Detectives This was the key research questions in my study, Students as Historical Detectives: (obligatory colon) The Effects of an Inquiry Teaching Approach on Middle School Students’ Understanding of Historical Ideas and Concepts How? Restructure Objectives into Investigative Questions Students then engage in a historical investigation around these questions, using mostly primary source materials

7 What is history? Accounts/narratives different depending on perspective We rely on evidence to construct account of the past We must question the reliability of evidence Any single piece of evidence is insufficient We must use multiple sources to build a plausible account

8 Issues... What are some issues related to the use of primary source documents in the classroom and with using a historical- investigations approach to regular instruction?

9 Students as Historical Detectives The most common concern among teachers in using primary source materials is that is complicates “content coverage” and takes too much time In what ways does a teacher resolve the potential conflict between coverage demands and alternative teaching approaches as they teach history using a historical-investigation approach?

10 Students as Historical Detectives This was the key research questions in my study, Students as Historical Detectives: (obligatory colon) The Effects of an Inquiry Teaching Approach on Middle School Students’ Understanding of Historical Ideas and Concepts How? Restructure Objectives into Investigative Questions Students then engage in a historical investigation around these questions, using mostly primary source materials

11 Study 3 months in an 8th grade classroom; January - March, 2003 (Prior to Local Assessments) Diverse school and class: 6 white, 6 black, 3 Hispanic, 4 Asian Heterogenously grouped class; A/B block schedule (hated it) Unit -- Constitution and New Governments (not very exciting for historical investigation)

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13 Spiraling Questions for Depictions of the Boston Massacre 1. What do you see in this image? 2. Who are the people? How do you know? What clues are provided? 3. What kind of place is this? 4. What is happening to some of the people? How do you know? 5. Who are the aggressors? How do you know? Explain why you feel that way. 6. How are the colonists depicted? 7. What is this event? Is it a massacre? 8. Do you think the author/artist had a particular bias? Why do you think so? What evidence can you cite? 9. Why do you think someone might want to paint this event in such a manner? 10. What effect do you suppose this had on the people who saw this, but did not witness the event? 11. Can you think of a current example of events that have been pictured by a group in a similar biased manner? What are the potential motivations of using such methods to present issues? 5. Who are the aggressors? How do you know? Explain why you feel that way. 8. Do you think the author/artist had a particular bias? Why do you think so? What evidence can you cite?

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15 Boston Massacre How did it start? What did the colonists do? What did the soldiers do? How many people died? Who was at fault? What evidence was used to reach conclusions? How does the use of language play a role in forming opinions about the various actors in this event? Provide specific examples.

16 The kids said... Me: What does this tell you about textbooks? Antonio: They all have different perspectives and points of view. Me:Do you ever think that your textbook maybe isn’t telling you everything? Kiki: I just wanted to say that sometimes some of the old time books aren’t as good as the newer ones because we’re still finding out today about things that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago.

17 Referential Illusion The Referential Illusion: The textbook gives the illusion that it is a reference book, but it provides no sources for historical information Textbooks are blindly accepted as truthful or factual History books are authored by a person or persons; the book is their interpretation Authors make mistakes. Take a look at this...

18 “Our Virginia: Past and Present" by Joy Masoff has touched off a discussion on how textbooks are selected for classroom use. Masoff, who is not a trained historian, says she found the information about black Confederate soldiers on the Internet...When the Post checked the links used by Masoff for her research, all three could be traced back to a group called the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. Source: Christian Science Monitor, 2010

19 One way to set up a classroom Students worked in groups of 3-4 I developed “Investigative Packets” (a big envelope with a magnifying glass on the outside) with key documents/images/maps/graphs/data Each group was given a different part of the big question Inquiry guide sheets and graphic organizers provided guidance/structure for their investigative work Large group instruction focused on setting the context and establishing an understanding of key themes

20 Example Identify and explain several key compromises that were necessary in order for the Constitution to receive approval (Essential Curriculum) IQ: What factors made the task to form a different government so difficult? This is broader and naturally leads students to construct their own understandings

21 Structure Setting the Context -- whole class: “Why is it important to count people?” Examining the Evidence -- cooperative groups: sample, “Census data by region in 1790” Constructing Interpretations and Formulating Theories -- cooperative groups: Develop a “resolution” to resolve the issue Develop a Critical Interpretation -- Cooperative groups: “Political cartoons” Individual: “Essay -- How do your interpretations compare to those of a historian?”

22 GROUP C Your topic is: SLAVERY AND THE NEW GOVERNMENT Based on the evidence in your Document File, describe the factors that caused a conflict among the delegates around this issue. Carefully organize/categorize your documents. Recall our earlier discussion/document analysis about population patterns and the need to count people. Look for evidence of conflict in order to understand the problem. Cite specific examples of evidence and seek corroboration of sources to validate your ideas. Use your graphic organizer to help you make good decisions about reliability and bias. Develop a solution to this issue. Predict how the delegates might have acted by writing a resolution to the Constitutional Convention describing your solution.

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26 NOTES FROM THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION -- JAMES MADISON Mr. Elsworth. “As he had never owned a slave could not judge of the effects of slavery on character. He said however that if it was to be considered in a moral light we ought to go farther and free those already in the Country.” Mr. Pinkney. “If slavery be wrong, it is justified by the example of all the world. He cited the case of Greece Rome & other antient States.” Source: National Archives and Records Administration

27 Mary: My group came up with the conclusion that some large populations may contain a high percentage of slaves, which results in them not being able to vote because their [sic] not citizens…Our group came up with the conclusion that slaves [should] be able to vote or count a certain amount of the population.

28 RESULTS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION The delegates at the Constitutional Convention had to resolve many differences – or reach compromises -- in order to achieve success in designing a new form of government. What were the results of their work? Here is your task: Each group is to design a drawing or editorial cartoon that demonstrates to other classmates what each of these compromises mean. Each should be descriptive enough to teach other students about the compromise. The drawing should have captions and other written text to assist the reader in understanding. Group A: BIG STATES/SMALL STATES Group B: TRADE Group C: SLAVERY AND THE NEW GOVERNMENT Group D: ELECTING THE PRESIDENT

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30 Comparing to the work of Historians Rob: “Our group agreed with the choices made by the delegates. We agreed that they count the slaves as something rather than nothing. Our resolution was good because it agreed with the delegates. I believe the delegates did it like this so that there was no conflict between the Northern and Southern colonies. Each state got a part of what they wanted.”

31 Key Findings Three themes primary emerged in the analysis of data collected during the study. Shifting the Culture of Learning Reading Primary Sources Historical Understandings

32 Shifting the Culture of Learning Students were unfamiliar with the concept of historical interpretation -- saw history as a set of unquestioned facts based on textbook materials Students lacked confidence in their own ability to interpret historical events They were not accustomed to working in teams over any length of time to solve problems

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34 Evidence “I remember when we were acting as if we were historians. We learned to work together as a group and looked at actual documents instead of looking in a textbook. We also had to fit everyone in and make everyone in the group feel as though they were group members. And we had to learn how to work with people at times even though we really didn’t want to work with them.” (Jerrold)

35 Reading Primary Sources Students were challenged with the language in primary source documents Did better when given chunks of text carefully chosen for both interest and relation to the topic Combining text with visual images, maps, and statistical data helped them to make connections Spent time carefully setting the context for understanding prior to reading

36 At the end of the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin noted that he had often looked at the sun carved on the back of George Washington’s chair and wondered if it was rising or setting. “But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.” Think about what Franklin is saying here based on the events of the Constitutional Convention. In the next page in your journals, explain what you believe that he meant by this statement.

37 Historical Understandings Students understood history in ways that students in other history classrooms did not Saw history as an interpretive process rather than as a set of unquestioned facts Began to question sources in terms of reliability and perspective Need to teach historiography/historical thinking skills

38 Historical Understandings History is pieces of puzzles put together by a historian. If one piece is missing, the whole “puzzle” could be misinterpreted. Speaking of interpretations, history is also an opinion. In your opinion you could include what actually happened, who was involved, where did it happen, when did it happen, and why it happened the way it did and how. (Brent) History is a lot of documents, scenes, and important things that took place back in the early ages….History is many copycats and one truth. For instance, a textbook is all secondary documents. A letter from the 1900’s a primary document. The difference is secondary is rewritten and [re]worded, primary is real and uncopied… (Antonio) Students’ response to free writing prompt, “History is...”

39 Sourcing Who wrote this? What is the author’s point of view? Why was it written? When was it written? Is the source believable?

40 Contextualizing (Imagining) What else was going on? What was it like to live in this time? What things were different?...the same? What would it look like to see this event through the eyes of someone who lived back then?

41 Corroboration (Cross - Checking) What do other pieces of evidence say? Am I finding the same information everywhere? Am I finding different versions? Why? Where else could I look to find out about this? What evidence is most believable?

42 Close Reading What claims does the author make? What evidence does the author use to support those claims? How is this document supposed to make me feel? What words of phrases does the author use to convince me? What information does the author leave out?

43 Assessing Historical Thinking With your group, discuss some different ways that you might assess these skills with your students. Sourcing Contextualizing Corroboration Close Reading

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