The flexibility to design a new course is another reason I love international schools.

After a well needed summer respite another school year has started. One of the things I am most excited about is teaching our new 9th grade course. A major benefit of teaching at a private international school is curriculum flexibility. If our department sees a need to fill curriculum gaps or to make adjustments to … Continue reading The flexibility to design a new course is another reason I love international schools.

Scaffolding Historical Thinking Skills

In the race to cover content it is easy to overlook the importance of scaffolding historical thinking during instruction. It is easy to ask students to analyze causes and effects, make comparisons, or effectively source documents; but harder to make sure students have a clear path to showing proficiency. Without clear scaffolding, without a system for teaching historical thinking, students are more likely to fall into "kitchen-sinkism." That is, they are more likely to think that copious amounts of detail and content, regardless of its relative significance, constitutes good history. Some students will always get to the goal on their own, but scaffolding helps all students have a clear path forward.

Historical Thinking begins with Primary Sources and Evidence

The use of primary sources has become increasingly common in history classrooms. Educators and researchers have been broadly pushing for this years. Specifically, this has been part of a call for the explicit teaching of historical thinking skills alongside prioritized content. Interestingly, the largest barriers to increased use of primary sources in the classroom that I have witnessed are not student reading ability, but a lack of teacher training and experience as well as access to materials.

Providing Useful Feedback in the Classroom

Providing quality feedback, and setting aside time for students to read it, reflect on it, and revise with it pushes back against the desire to go fast instead of focusing on mastery. Doing this frequently and consistently also helps build a positive classroom culture; Students can tell the difference between a classroom where feedback is being used as a justification for the grade they received and a classroom where feedback is the pathway to both learning and the grades that reflect that learning.

AP World: Teaching Imperialism in Unit 6

Unit 6 is one of my favorite units to teach in AP World, and is arguably one of the most important for understanding contemporary global issues. The unit's content demands thinking about how we teach imperialism as much as what we are teaching. Student engagement is important, but also building historical empathy and training students to think critically about sensitive issues.