Moving Towards Standards Based Grading in History

I no longer teach at a school that uses standards based grading. However, I believe in the spirit of it; how it honors growth over time, includes clearer and more visible learning objective, offers opportunities for better feedback, and generally supports learning over GPA outcomes. (That's a tall order to sell, I know). So, I have been reflecting on how to integrate the best parts of SBG into a traditional grading system.

Teaching the Document Based Question

The DBQ is not about teaching content, nor is it about finding the "right" answer. It's about giving students the knowledge and skill to construct an argument after questioning and analyzing sources. I don't want the DBQ to become a research essay, nor should it be a content dump where the document citations serve as nothing more than window dressing. This is neither its purpose not its potential.

Strategies for Inquiry in Social Studies

"Doing Inquiry" can be easy, and does not always have to involve huge projects. Embedding small protocols and activities that introduce the various components and stages of inquiry help scaffold towards the larger projects that empower students and enrich traditional curriculum. I've learned that inquiry should not be a "special activity" but a frequent, even daily, classroom routine. Here are some strategies I have found success with.

Teach historiography in high school!

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.