RMartinello's picture

I am currently the History/Geography head at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge, Ontario. I teach History, Law and Civics. I am in my 26th year of teaching.

Using Simulations and Inquiry - The Nuremburg Trials

As with James and Michael, this will be my last blog for the Historical Thinking Project. I have enjoyed reading the other blogs and the interesting approaches to teaching historical concepts. I am amazed by the thoughtful creativity I have seen and am encouraged by the directions that our practices our teaching has taken us. With that, I leave you with one last lesson.

INCORPORATING HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS INTO AN INQUIRY PROCESS

The new Ontario curriculum calls for the integration of historical thinking concepts into our practice; it also calls for the integration of the inquiry model. While this is all fine and good, teachers are rarely given strategies of how to do this in our day to day lessons. The integration of the inquiry model produces some interesting challenges. Challenge one is making the move from teachers being deliverers of knowledge to facilitators of learning.  Challenge two is dealing with an extensive amount of content with limited time and resources.

CONSTRUCTING HISTORY - THE EFFECT OF LIMITED EVIDENCE

I had the privilege of working with a teacher who once taught me in high school. As my program head, I would often ask his advice on something new I was planning. His response would invariably be: “Try it. If it works, tell me about it. If it doesn’t, try something else.” As a young teacher at the time, I took that as a vote of confidence to experiment in my classes without fear of having a critical eye over my shoulders watching for every mistake. I share that with you because I tried a bit of a different approach to a lesson, and I am not sure if it worked or not.

USING AN INQUIRY APPROACH TO TEACH HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS (CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE)

The new Ontario curriculum not only has an emphasis on teaching historical thinking, it also requires an inquiry based approach to teaching/learning. This is a lesson that attempts to meld the two through an examination of the effects of the Cold War. The historical thinking concept I wanted to examine was cause and consequence, more specifically I wanted to students to examine whether some of the consequences were Reactions or Over-reactions.

USING AN ORGANIZER FOR DECISION MAKING TO UNDERSTAND THE ACTIONS OF HISTORICAL ACTORS (UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE AND SIGNIFICANC

One way many teachers use to assist students in their understanding of decisions made by historical actors is to use an organizer for decision making. This involves creating a matrix that combines the ranking of established criteria and cross-referencing the criteria to a set of options facing the historical actor. A classic example, used by many teachers, is to examine Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In this case, I have chosen to examine the issue from Truman’s perspective at the time of his decision.

USING MAPS TO UNDERSTAND CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE and CONTINUITY AND CHANGE

One activity I have begun to use in my classes is to compare maps between time periods to help promote an understanding of Cause and Consequence and of Continuity and Change. A good resource for this is the assortment of maps found at worldology.com. (http://www.worldology.com/Europe/europe_history_lg.htm). These maps can be used in a study of Modern Europe or in a course like the 20th Century Canadian History Course under the Ontario curriculum.

Teaching Questioning Skills

There is not much I remember about what I learned in teacher’s college but one thing sticks out. We were told that one of the toughest skills a teacher can master is to effectively use questioning in the classroom, It really is a combination of skill and art. But if developing the skill to question is difficult for us, teaching that skill to students is even more challenging. So I am going to share a strategy that I use once a year in a history classroom. It’s something I picked up at a history conference.

In-servicing Teachers on the Historical Thinking Concepts

 

The implementation of historical thinking concepts has raised a number of issues, not the least of which is trying to in-service colleagues in the practice. A common refrain I have met is: “but I already do this”. I tend to agree, but only to a certain extent. We have taught many of these concepts but for the most part we have rarely been intentional in our teaching.  And if we have not been intentional, how do we expect our students to understand and apply these concepts?

 

THOUGHTS ON EVALUATING HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS

In a previous post, James Miles raised the issue of how to incorporate historical thinking concepts into summatives, particularly with regards to exams. With a growing emphasis in curriculum on historical thinking concepts I think that there is very little choice but to directly evaluate thinking concepts into our evaluations.  In Ontario, at least, the new curriculum incorporates historical thinking directly to its entire course overall expectations.

Introducing Historical Thinking Concepts to a Grade 10 History Class in 5 days – Day 5 – PERSPECTIVE

Teaching perspective was one of the more interesting of the introductory lessons on historical thinking skills. My experience with Grade 10 students is that they have almost visceral reactions to events and become emotionally attached, especially if there is something they find offensive to their moral compasses. They also have a difficult time judging the actions of an historical figure without using a modern lens. What I tried to do in today’s lesson was have them look at some of the key events of the 21st century from 3 different perspectives; one being their own.

What is a Benchmark?

<p>John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising &amp; Marketing History,<br />Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections</p>

A surveyor cut a "benchmark" into a stone or a wall when measuring the altitude and/or level of a tract of land. A bracket called a "bench" was secured in the cut to mount the surveying equipment, and all subsequent measurements were made in reference to the position and height of that mark.

The term "benchmark" was first used around 1842 to refer to a standard of quality by which achievement may be measured.

The foundation documents available through the Benchmarks site attempt to help teachers establish standards for assessing student learning of the modes of thought that constitute historical thinking.

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History,
Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections