happy studentsOverview

Our world is filled with exciting tools and resources.

Young people are talkative, energized, and excited about the world beyond school.

Let's explore ways to get them engaged with learning inside school too!

We can bring social studies alive by exploring authentic resources with students.

Try It!
Does my great aunt Laura (below right) remind you of Miss Gulch (wicked witch below left) from Wizard of Oz? Why do they look alike?

Miss GulchGreat Aunt Laura

The key to success is collaboration among administrators, librarians, and classroom teachers.

With the introduction of the Common Core State Standards, history and social studies are in the spotlight. The standards stress inquiry, primary sources, and informational reading. This workshop will explore each of these areas.

Explore the following areas on this page including focus, historical thinking and inquiry, teacher blogs, starting points, organizers, personal collection, and resources.


focusIn Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning, Mike Schmocker recommends three core elements to improve learning:

Schmocker describes the importance of simplicity, clarity, and priority in teaching and learning.

This seems simple until we thinking about the real-world of teaching and learning.

Try It!
What do you see as the major barriers to "focus"?
What are the real-world frustrations of authentic literacy?

Historical Thinking and Inquiry

Historical thinking involves the application of a set of analysis and argument skills needed to successfully study history. Students must be able to apply reasoning skills regardless of the type of inquiry.

Mandell and Malone (2008, 1) state that "history is a discipline: a way of thinking that encourages students to analyze historical evidence, evaluate it, and then demonstrate their understanding of that evidence. Teaching and learning history requires repeated practice with these essential elements of the discipline."

Historical inquiry is an active process that involves asking deep questions, analyzing sources, developing arguments based on evidence, and drawing conclusions.

Students need skills in historical thinking and information inquiry.

Try It!
Our job is to provide authentic, engaging primary sources for students to analyze like the Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower (1958). The National Archives has a lesson associated with this and other Jackie Robinson documents.
Do you think this document would be of interest to students? Why or why not?
What are the characteristics of a primary source document that is useful in teaching but also engaging for learners?

Social studies teachers and librarians have complementary skills that can be used to address these two areas. The key is helping students develop skills in historical thinking.


The photo above was featured at Wikimedia Commons.

Try It!
What skills do you have as a teacher of historical thinking or information inquiry?
What do you want students to be able to do and talk about regarding primary sources?
Why is historical thinking important in teaching and learning?

Combine your professional skills along with professional resources and models. Mandell and Malone (2008) developed a model for thinking like a historian. Print out the Thinking Like a Historian model that contains a framework and questions - Part 1, Part 2.


To learn more about this approach, watch the Thinking Like a Historian video (at the bottom of the page).

Historical Thinking for Teachers

Although you may believe in the approach, there's not enough time in the day to develop all your instructional materials from scratch. The key is locating and adapting the ideas of others. Adapt online lesson ideas to expand your teaching materials.


At the Historical Thinking Matters website, student investigators watch a short movie that introduces a question, explore text annotations and media clips, and answer guided questions to practice skills in sourcing, contextualizing, close reading, and corroborating.

Apply their approach to your own primary source materials.

Teacher Blogs

You don't have time to look for resources, find someone who does. Then, follow their blog.

Teacher Blogs

Major Starting Points

Rather than Googling your topic. Spend some time mining the best educational sites in social studies.

Primary Sources Blogs

Links to Social Studies Resources

Learning About Historical Investigation

History Project Tools

Document-based Lessons

Teacher ResourcesPBS Social Studies (filter by topic), EDSITEment , ThinkfinityNational Geographic

Student ResourcesNational Geographic MagazineFactCheck.org

Primary Source Lesson Plans

Organizing Professional Resources

You can waste a lot of time surfing. Mine the best, first.

Bookmarking: Delicious, Diigo

Wiki or Website Builders: Wikispaces, Google Sites, Weebly

Concept Mapping: Spiderscribe


Go to the Spartan Guides Lib Guide. Notice how it's organized. Do a search at LibGuides for your class such as "American History."

Try It!
What professional resource sites do you use?
How do you organize your access to these resources?

Personal Collections

Use your own personal collection and local collections. They help provide context. Students also enjoy the personal connection.

Try It!
View the Layton Roller Mills Float photo. What do you know? What do you wonder? Learn more about the Layton Roller Mills. By the way, the photo was taken in 1897.



Try It!
Personal primary source materials are the most fun. Can you guess who these people are? Where are they and what are they doing? The photo below shows my grandfather, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother.

Try It!
Discuss a strategy for getting started.
What materials do you already have?
What do you need?
How will you organize for yourself and your students?


Holt, Tom (1990). Thinking Historically. The College Board.

Mandell, Nikki & Malone, Bobbie (2008). Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction. Preview Available: http://books.google.com/books?id=b0sEof09o7YC

Presnell, Jenny (2012). The Information Literate Historian. Oxford University Press.

Schmoker, Michael (2011). Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Students Learning. ASCD. Preview: http://books.google.com/books?id=rwGPsVZxUusC&printsec=frontcover

Stearns, P., Seixas, P, Wineburg, S (Eds.) (2000). Knowing, Teaching and Learning History: National and International Perspectives. NYU Press.

Wineburg, Sam (2001). Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts. Temple University Press.

Wyman, Richard M. (2005). America's History through Young Voices. Pearson.

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