Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Introduction to Historical Thinking: Working With Evidence

It's important to start the year with a few icebreakers and activities that allow students and teachers to get to know one another. This lesson threads the critical thinking needle through a look into the future followed by observations of selected spaces on campus. All of which is used to warm up our minds to the kinds of historical thinking we will use to gather, interpret, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize evidence to respond to a variety of problems.
Enduring Understanding: History involves interpretation, which means historians can and do disagree.
Essential Question: What should we do when our sources disagree?
Skills: identifying similarities and differences, evaluation of sources, point of view, synthesis, summarizing. 

1. Your Future You (Where are we going?) [30 minutes]

Students complete the Future You survey and share their responses with a neighbor. Each student needs to identify two similarities and two difference between the two surveys.

Debrief on the activity includes sharing out of the most interesting similarity or difference.

2. Campus Scavenger Hunt (Where are we now?) [30 minutes]

I like to transition with an open discussion about what they predict they'll do this year to support their future goals and achievements before making observations and collecting data.

The students are asked to collect data on three spaces in the school: courtyard (or front of building), cafeteria, and library. The only rule (besides the obvious safety rules) is that they cannot confer with anyone. All of the data must be their own work. *It's important to talk to any staff or faculty that supervises these areas.

When the students come back to the room, the report the data, which is recorded on the board by a volunteer recorder. The debrief is something usually happens throughout the sharing of the data because their are usually discrepancies that are discussed right away.

My transition is on the question of accuracy and confidence in the data.

  • What kinds of data affect students? (Grades are relevant topic.) 
  • Are there discrepancies that we can live with? Ones that perhaps strengthen our learning experiences? (This questions ends with a more empathetic response to discrepancy.) 

3. "The Three Little Pigs" [45 minutes] *Our blocks are 77 minutes, so we would finish next time.

This is where the students put together evaluation of sources and point of view to select evidence and retell a widely accepted story. It's also where they experience artistic license when it comes to filling in the gaps.
  • Discuss the commonly accepted story of the Three Little Pigs. List the main points on the board.
  • Read the Wolf's Story.
  • Make a graphic organizer that shows the similarities and differences between the Wolf's Story and the commonly accepted version.
  • Write a one-sentence summary that chooses a point of view and provides justification for your decision. 
Debrief could be about how point of view is critical to question when reading sources. 

If time permits, I share the "Six Wise Men of Hindustan." You'll know exactly what to do with this.