When students are making historical arguments they need tools that help them think through vast quantities of content quickly and provide a scaffold for complexity. I like to use two different activities that introduce two "Frameworks for Analysis" to help them do this, one for causes and one for effects.
My unit design process for a thematic course involves overcoming several challenges: content and skill selection, assessment design, and leaving space for inquiry, scaffolding, and differentiation. A healthy dose of backwards design alongside the four non-negotiables of my own process end up making things work.
Teaching both content and skill is a constant challenge, especially in AP World History. Rethinking old lesson plans helped me come up with a new plan for teaching Topic 1.1 that introduced causation, argumentation, and thesis writing. It worked well.
Seeing the methods and philosophical traditions that uphold the creation of narrative is an important lesson for any student of history. Interpretation is an act that is debated and ever-evolving, and it provides great opportunities for practicing historical thinking. There are some great entry-points into historiography in most curriculum that will deepen students' ability to analyze alternative viewpoints and get them discussing ideas and modes of thinking instead of fact. In my experience, students respond to such a compelling challenge.
History is a weapon, and narrative is its highest caliber bullet. How its used depends on who wields it. When it comes to students, they deserve more than being fed a narrative. Teachers should help them see behind the curtain of history to help them learn how to think instead of what to think.
Found a pop-up coffee market near the Shanghai Bund today and was inspired to start adding a couple of resource pages to the blog.
I use skills-based enduring understandings to design my lesson activities, create and tune assessments, and plan my units so that they are aligned and have strong progression of skills. History teachers who already teach skills will not find all of these new nor incredibly insightful. It's how you use the enduring understandings that can be transformative in the classroom.
Here are a few games I have had success with in the classroom. Two support review of academic vocabulary and one is great for general language practice and critical thinking.
We all have bad days, we all appreciate second chance. Although there were exceptions, I found in our small representation of international educators that people were philosophically supportive of reassessment but disagreed quite a bit about the logistics of how it should be done. Here is how I made it work.
Rather than try to teach everything, a thematic approach allows me to focus on the key concepts, essential questions, and enduring understandings that are central to understanding the development of the United States. These serve as a magnetic poles around which students can make sense of the content that is taught. I would argue this helps instruct historical significance while also preventing students from getting lost in a cacophony of historical details.