Good Historical Thinking Begins With The Right Question

adam-topliff

This week’s poster is Adam Topliff: I teach 8th Grade Social Studies & Civics at Wamego Middle School in Wamego, KS.  I love all things Hamilton!


It’s almost that time again, school is just around the corner.  Time to unpack your classrooms, create your new catchy bulletin boards and really think about lesson planning.  The unpacking and bulletin boards seems to always go quicker and with much less stress. However, the planning of how to kick off school and reflecting on the design and layout of what we explore throughout the year can sometime be a bit overwhelming.  The most important thing I think about in lesson design is not the fun activities or exploration, but the question. To create classrooms that engage in good historical thinking we have to develop the right question or questions from the very beginning.  So what are the right types of questions? Let’s explore . . . 

  • The Google Factor
    The discussion about questions that kids can Google the answer is not something new.  So this is a just a short reminder, don’t create questions for your kids to investigate that can be Googled and answered in just a couple of minutes.  Check out Glenn Wiebe’s post on his History Tech Blog that sheds more light in creating the UnGoogleable question. “If they can Google it, why do they need you?”
  • The C3 Inquiry
    If you have never spent some time investigating the C3 Framework and its Inquiry Arc you need to get over there.  Developed by NCSS to assist states in creating curriculum, the C3 Inquiry Arc begins first with developing solid inquiry based questions.

Inquiry Arc Format

 

In developing questions the Inquiry Arc asks that you have questions that will compel students to use multiple Social Studies disciplines and use evidence/sources in drawing a conclusion.  So when you think about your question, do they require your kids to do this?

  • Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
    Good news – if you are struggling to figure out what to ask, there are great resources that have pre-created inquiry based questions.  The New York State Social Studies K-12 Resource Kit provides a great site that you can search by grade level and topics. Once you find a an inquiry that might fit what you are looking for, you can quickly download the entire Inquiry Arc with all the compelling questions and formative type of activities that can be used in class. NYC Inquiries You also can create an account and create your own inquiries using their resources and push it out digitally to your students.  

Gilder Lehrman has a amazing list of inquiry based questions that are listed in chronological order and allow for great historical investigation and discussion – “Essential Questions in Teaching American History”

So as you kick off the school year and begin unpacking your lesson plans don’t forget to start with just the right question.

About Kori Green

I teach 8th grade social studies at El Dorado Middle School in El Dorado, KS. I enjoy U.S. history, dabble in British history, and love incorporating technology in the classroom.

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