In February, I dove deeper and inquired on resources specific to reading and thinking like a historian and a social scientist. This inquiry supports my on-going work on Social Studies curriculum and instruction grades K-12 and reaffirms my value for this discipline across all grade levels. Three important texts that I would like to highlight include: “How to Engage Young Students in Historical Thinking” by Elena Aguilar, “What is Historical Thinking” from TeachingHistory.org, and “Recognizing and Addressing the Barriers to Adolescents’ Reading Like Historians” by Jeffery D. Nokes. In reading these texts, they inspire me to communicate the message of how and why we teach Social Studies just as important as the what we teach in Social Studies courses.
Aguilar, a leadership coach from Oakland, California and a parent, expressed her concern through the lens of a parent who is an educator. This author stated that the California standards for “teaching historical analysis skills” begins in kindergarten and teachers across the grades need to go “far beyond just teaching the content standards in history” (http://www.edutopia.org/historical-thinking-skills-K-6 accessed 3/5/15). Her point connects with the NYS Vertical Alignment of the Social Studies Practices – in which these practices need to start in elementary school then developed during middle school and further refined at the high school level to foster students’ abilities to be readers, writers, consumers, and producers of information. Aguilar positions four points to the approach on viewing history/social studies instruction as:
- Students understand that is history is a construction,
- Students know how to deconstruct history and rewrite it,
- Students know their own histories,
- Students enjoy studying history and recognize the value in doing so
Another helpful Internet resource to check out is TeachingHistory.org and it aligns with Aguilar’s approach. Through this site I discovered a video clip on the meaning of historical thinking.
The final text by Nokes (2011) is significant for all grade level teachers to read in order to better understand student learning from the lens of how historians read. Nokes (2011) cites research on the differences between how historians read compared to how students may or may not be reading in school. This author offers research-supported interventions to help overcome barriers of adolescents reading like a historian as “such thinking is not natural to students” (Nokes, 2011, p. 397); yet through instruction a learned skill. Nokes (2011) identifies four problems/barriers then shares potential ways to address it through one’s instructional practice. Figure 1 “Barriers to Historical Reading, Causes of Barriers, and Possible Instructional Interventions” summarizes the points presented in his scholarly article.