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  • I really liked the article on "What Does It Mean to Think Historically...and How Do You Teach It?" I especially liked the points of thinking historically but remembering about "persepctives" of the author.  I think the section on reliability assessment is important to make students aware that they have to take related accounts for corroboration.  Also that difference sources might have distortions, bias, or exaggeration.  So many times students believe what they read is 100% fact without questioning the validity of the source. Assessing perspective and "authors intent" reminded me of not only in reading primary sources, but just in critical thinking in general life.

    In the article "What Does It Mean to Think Historically?" I thought it was interesting in the conclusion where it stated that students who favor memorization over analysis seem more inclined to recite the C's with  understanding them.  I liked how the article discussed change taking place over time and how some people will pay attention to some events while ignoring others.   I thought the part on contingency and how changing a signle prior condition could effect the historical outcome of the event differently.  I think students would actually enjoy this part of looking at outcomes differently because it allows them some creative freedom to ponder how the world might be differently. 

  • The articles dealing with Thinking Historically were written with history/ social studies in mind, however, as a secondary generalist I can see how these ideas can be used across the curriculum spectrum.  So often we as teachers focus on the curriculum as is when in fact the sources we use have historical value and meaning.  The tools (resources) need to be reliable as well as connected.  No matter the source using the four steps of identifying the work media, authorship expertise, the author's point of view, and the other sources validating the original work students will be able to be confident of the strength of the source.

    In the article "What Does It Mean to Think Historically?" by Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke focuses on the five "C's": change over time, causality, context, complexity, and contingency.  The first one, Change over Time, is one that I feel I talk about in my classes a lot and honestly I didn't even realize it until I read the article.  How the resource is relevant now vs how it was relevant in the past often does change and recognizing the why and how of that change helps with perspective both where we are and where we have come from. 

    In Bruce A. VanSledright's article "What Does It Mean to Think Historically... and How Do You Teach It?"  the idea of judging perspective.  So often growing up I felt that my history books pushed a particular perspective.  I think it is important to look at the perspective from which something came from, as well as, the perspective of the time. 

    Separating the ideas of "past" and "history" is a valid point to understand and explain. As a teacher that is something I hadn't really given much thought to either, so I am glad that the article made a point of it.  I will now bring it in as a point of discussion with my students.

  • These two articles were great. They made me stop and think about how I viewed “historical thinking’ and if that was what I was actually teaching. I loved the article What Does it mean to Think Historically? by Andrews and Burke. The break down of the “five C’s”, change over time, context, causality, contingency, and complexity,

    helped pull what I an aiming for into focus and also provided some concrete examples of what each look like in historical context to which I could relate ( I need examples to truly comprehend ideas).

    The second article, “What Does it Mean to Think Historically….and How do you Teach It?”  was also interesting. I had never though of the differences between “history” and “the past” being that stark or necessary to understand. It is a perspective that I believe would benefit students with that eternal question “...why do I have to learn this old stuff.”  The article made me stop an think about my own perceptions of history and how it was presented to me in school. I recalled that it wasn’t until a teacher told me the stories of history that I found it interesting and engaging. And then made the effort to investigate and explore on my own.

    The author’s process starting form identification to attribution to judging perspective and finally to reliability assessment gives a concrete system to approach analyzing primary sources and connect them back to secondary sources. 

    I  also believe the realization that “history” is not set or just there, it is developed over time.  That it takes time and effort for the story of the past to emerge offers to students two very important benefits: learning to think critically and investment in the learning. 

  • Reflection #1
        After reading and synthesizing information from both articles What Does It Mean to Think Historically... and How Do You Teach It? (B. VanSledright) and What Does It Mean to Think Historically? (T. Andrews & F. Burke) I connected the value and use of primary source with student learning. Students need the opportunity to use maps, photographs, and documents to strengthen their knowledge to scaffold their thinking and processing in everyday life and research.
        The first article by VanSledright, shared “source work” and the steps used to assess each source. He pointed out the difference between “history (product of their investigations) and the past (traces adn artifacts that remain- historical data”. Four assessments mentioned were Identification, Attribution, Judging Perspective, and Reliability. He closes with sharing “Good historical thinkers are tolerant of differing perspectives...[that] help them make sense of the past.”
        The second article by Andrews and Burke, emphasized the “five C’s of historical thinking”. The 5 concepts include: change over time, context, causality, contingency and complexity. When identifying change, students are aware of technological advancements and areas in life that are altered and/or remain unchanged over a period of time. Context is the platform to introduce good storytelling to share the specifics of past eras. Causality employs the use of primary sources in debates and role-playing. Contingency is defined as the dependency of conditions and the interconnectedness among historical events and outcomes. Complexity can be modeled through debate using primary sources. Analysis and application of the five C’s will help students engage in thought provoking research of primary sources and will scaffold their learning.

  •      The article What Does It Mean to Think Historically reminds me of one of the lessons I taught, how I presented the lesson and my students’ assigned activity. The topic was on Anchorage Beginnings; Alaska Natives and the Newcomers.  I grouped my class into two groups, one group was the newcomers/explorers and the other group was the Alaska Natives.  After presenting the introductory lesson, they were asked to reenact the situation of their first meeting.  I posted the following questions to both groups:  What are you thinking?  What do you feel?  What are you going to do?  What will you say?  You can’t speak the other group’s language… how are you going to communicate?  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  What’s the best thing that could happen?

    This activity really made the learning richer and made the students more engaged for the continuing lessons we had. 

  • What Does It Mean to Think Historically?

    The article about thinking historically is designed to help teachers strengthen their training for teaching students how to think about history.

    I liked the approach created by the authors Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke called the "five C's of historical thinking".  There were a few things that stood out for me, one was the Change over Time, another was Causality, and the third was Context. 

    Change over Time is something we talk about almost daily in my classroom. We continually look at timelines and create them using information found in texts we read. The explanation of how things have progressed in some areas yet stayed the same in others is a concept that is important for students to understand.

    Context is another area I feel students need to grasp. Using stories to build that understanding of context along with visuals gives students a better idea of what things were like in the past. The exercise mentioned in the article called, "Fact, Fiction, or Creative Memory" is one I would use in my classroom.

    Causality seems to be a concept that is more difficult for students yet vital to grasping the impact of historical events or eras. Students need to be able to "develop persuasive explanations of historical events and processes based on logical interpretations of evidence". 

    I enjoyed reading the article as a different perspective on defining how to get kids to think about history.

  • #1 The articles offered an interesting idea, i.e. “Thinking Historically”. I see the concept more as “Thinking as Historians Do”. Historians tend to view documents-written, audio, or video-with a more critical eye than most people. I try to impart this “critical eye” concept to my students; especially where politics are concerned. I ask them when they see a document-news cast-to ask the 5Ws, i.e. who, what, when, where, and why. 

    Students should ask who presented the document? How reliable is the source? What was the motive behind their action? What is the opposing view? And most important they should get corroboration. Often my students are too willing to accept the first answer/source they find on google or wickipedia.  

    The article by Andrews and Burke was interesting and challenging. I stress the 3Cs of Change, Causality, and Context. The authors have encouraged me to stress all five equally. Complexity and Causality are intertwined. I need to show them that when something in the Complexity changes the Causality changes; therefore, the result changes. Students tend not to see all aspects of a historical situation. When our students leave school and go into the real world we want them to be informed citizens before they enter the polling place. 

    #2 The Stripling Model of Inquiry asked a very important question, i.e. "Why should primary sources be used?" As adults what will confront our students, primary sources--mortgages, loans, insurance policies, bond proposals, etc. All need to be carefully examined before a signature is applied. Developing the critical thinking aspect of inquiry is one of the best skills our students can master. In class it is a skill that can be connected to present day situations. 

  • What does it mean to think historically.  As VanSledright points out this has almost become a throw away term in education circles.  I have pointed out to many of my friends and family that education has its own language.  With terms and words that "outsiders" would never understand without attending a conference we need to be careful with what terms we throw around, and that they don't get so overused that they end up loosing their meaning.  I think that thinking historically is in danger of being one of those overused terms.  Because of that it is amazingly useful to define it and stick to that definition.

    I agree with Vansledright that this term is hard to nail down because there are so many changing variables.  Such as what age group are we talking about and what era are we talking about.  Those who thought historically in the 1950's will obviously look at history through their cultural bias differently than someone who looks at the same thing from 2012.  On the other hand we can try to look at things the same no matter what by, in a way, codifying what it means to think historically.

    The list from Andrews and Burke which includes Change over time, Context, etc is a great place to start.  My favorite ones are context, because I truly feel that history should be a good story.  It is a good story, and I present many of history's events through telling a story of a person that was involved in that event.  Also the idea of contingency is paramount in how I teach history.  The students must understand that they play a part in history by making choices, and the best way to get this idea across is by showing them those points in history where things could have gone the other way.  The CSA could have won the civil war.  What would have happened if Hitler hadn't invaded Russia?  We make choices each day, and those choices influence history.

    In the end I do think that we can teach our kids how to think historically?  Yes.  Do I think it's important? Very much.  This teaches them how to problem solve and to understand how they affect the world around them.

  • REFLECTION: Inquiry based learning

    The Stripling Model of Inquiry outlines the process of making connections, wonder, investigation, construction, expression and reflection.  This process allows students to incorporate inquiry into learning.  "The understanding that students develop through inquiry are deeper and longer lasting than any pre-packaged knowledge delivered by teachers to students."  Tying this to primary sources will allow students to create an environment of critical thinking (analyzing, evaluating, and drawing conclusions).  I see many advantages to allowing students to further explore textbook information through primary sources (within special education, it is really about making sure this is "set up" early in the year and then incorporated throughout the school year).

    I can see using  the Stripling Model of Inquiry in U.S. History and World History...as well as Alaska Studies and any other classes that I may teach...this will provide a framework to process information (much like scientific inquiry) and provide students with another tool to develop their own investigative skills.  "Primary sources effectively support learning throughout the inquiry process when teachers and librarians select appropriate sources, teach students essential thinking skills, and carefully structure learning experiences."  I think this is so important for students and can see creating a poster for students to reference throughout the school year.

    In addition, the Dual Inquiry Model provides another view of investigation (still building on connections, wonder, investigation, construction, expression, and reflection).  I believe that by providing a choice between these two models; students will have the best opportunities for success.  Again, the idea of investigation and providing students with options (geared for success) is excellent!  Thank you.


    ----- Evelyne Tunley-Daymude

  • The two articles on “what does it mean to think historically” focus on an activity that requires effort and intentionality – thinking.  Our culture, and certainly our students, desire life and learning to be prepackaged and easily digested.  Yet at the same time, we have a disdain for the simplistic and we know that reality, and history, are multifaceted and complex.  Consequently, the student quickly recognizes that history cannot be a compilation of lifeless and objective facts yet at the same time it is frightening to consider how tenuous our understanding of the past.  The concept that history is “fixed and stable” is indeed “naïve”.


    The process of accessing sources challenges the student. The ability to judge perspective is crucial in assessing history but also in evaluating everyday situations.   Perspective-assessment forces us to “stand in someone else’s shoes”  Doing so requires deliberate effort and indeed makes the student a better historian, citizen and thinker.


    Karin Owens

    Reflection on  “What Does It Mean to Think Historically?” and

    “What Does It Mean to Think Historically… and How Do You Teach It?


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