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"Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answer?": Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12 Paperback – May 28, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1571108128 ISBN-10: 1571108122

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"Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answer?": Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12 + Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School History Classrooms + Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History (Multicultural Education Series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers (May 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571108122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571108128
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Every major measure of students’ historical understanding since 1917 has demonstrated that students do not retain, understand, or enjoy their school experiences with history. Bruce Lesh believes that this is due to the way we teach history—lecture and memorization. Over the last fifteen years, Bruce has refined a method of teaching history that mirrors the process used by historians, where students are taught to ask questions of evidence and develop historical explanations. And now in his new book “Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer?” he shows teachers how to successfully implement his methods in the classroom.

Students may think they want to be given the answer. Yet, when they are actively engaged in investigating the past—the way professional historians do—they find that history class is not about the boring memorization of names, dates, and facts. Instead, it’s challenging fun. Historical study that centers on a question, where students gather a variety of historical sources and then develop and defend their answers to that question, allows students to become actual historians immersed in an interpretive study of the past.

Each chapter focuses on a key concept in understanding history and then offers a sample unit on how the concept can be taught. Readers will learn about the following:
• Exploring Text, Subtext, and Context: President Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal
• Chronological Thinking and Causality: The Rail Strike of 1877
• Multiple Perspectives: The Bonus March of 1932
• Continuity and Change Over Time: Custer’s Last Stand
• Historical Significance: The Civil Rights Movement
• Historical Empathy: The Truman-MacArthur Debate

By the end of the book, teachers will have learned how to teach history via a lens of interpretive questions and interrogative evidence that allows both student and teacher to develop evidence-based answers to history’s greatest questions.
 


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I would highly recommend this book to secondary teachers of social studies.
Scot A Wilson
His methods show ways to make learning meaningful to students by teaching them critical thinking skills and getting them to support ideas with evidence.
briscoe83
This book is more of a template for creating these lessons for the units I teach.
andy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. Laye on August 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
What American history teacher wouldn't want their students to think for themselves and construct their own narratives about the past? It has long been debated whether young-minds are also capable of "historical thinking" -- analyzing primary and secondary accounts and constructing their own interpretations of the past based on evidence. Bruce Lesh has compiled a dummy-proof and provocative series of lessons for teachers who want to step outside of the typical one-dimensional narrative approach to teaching history and allow students to engage in meaningful inquiry with historical sources. The lessons are centered around a focus question which will guide their inquiry. The students then navigate through a series of historical sources, deliberately convoluted, which force them to corroborate evidence and confront contradiction in order to develop their own interpretations -- much like any historian does. This is not simply a compilation of primary source; it is much more than that. Over the course of the lessons, the students learn how to analyze text, context, and subtext of any source, consider historiography and periodization, grapple with change versus continuity over time, and garner a sense of historical empathy. I have found myself inspired and yet frustrated by other books which tackle reform in history education because while they can be forward-thinking, they can also be bereft of suggestion in moving forward. The methodology presented in this book led to nothing shy of a gestalt switch in my teaching. It was an easy decision when I asked myself: "do I want my students to be fact-mongers or do I want them to be able to think?" The light bulb turned on, and stayed on.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James Percoco on May 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Bruce Lesh has added to the history education canon an indispensible ally and tool that will help teachers to enliven their history curriculum and broaden there own teaching. Lesh's book should be a must in all collegiate level social studies methodology course. In the hands of committed educators this book will, indeed, make a difference.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edmund J. Michalski Jr. on April 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a teacher it is always good to read about what other teachers are doing. It was nice to read that some of the things that I do on my classroom are being done by other teachers and having successes.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Smith on August 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book to any history teacher who is looking for an effective way to use primary sources in the classroom. Bruce Lesh presents several research based lessons that illustrate how to teach students to think historically. In his book, Lesh not only describes his lesson, but also shows typical student answers and explains the ways those answers do or do not demonstrate deep student understanding. Although I teach the first half of US History and most lessons come from the second half of US History, I have been able to easily identify events from my course that can be taught using the same technique. I am the type of teacher who has attended many workshops and seminars on teaching history, as well as reading several books on using primary sources. "Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answer" is the most useful book I have read for a secondary history teacher who wants to make history relevant for students.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eugenia Harrison on February 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Author Lesh targets his work to US History teachers, emphasizing a need to move from memorization of facts into what he calls "historical thinking". He gives great examples that he himself has used in his classroom. The one on Nat Turner Rebellion is great! It demonstrates multiple examples of thinking beyond the facts, and that is really what the heart of the book is about. Teaching students to think for themselves!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By AM on February 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book will provide history teachers with ideas for creating lessons that will challenge their students to think critically about history. It is a quick and easy read. It will give you sample lessons that can be easily implemented in the classroom. It will help your students think more critically and you to think critically about HOW to teach history. A great study in methodology.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Dodson on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answers?" is a great book for teachers of History. This book has encouraged me to look at the way I teach my students. This book places the students in the role of a Historian through historical investigation. I have already used some of the ideas in this book in my classrooms and they work. This is an excellent resource for History teachers.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tsanna on August 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Why Can't You Just Give Us the Answer" is a tool for not only US history teachers, but for all educators. Lesh's reflections on his experiences as a student, student teacher and now as a master teacher have inspired me to dust off my teaching philosophy and critically reflect upon how students learn. Lesh gives new teachers the courage to step out the mandated, mundane, and outdated curriculum worlds we may live in, and experiment with his innovative approach to discovery learning.The idea of having students become the historians and work hands-on with prinmary text follows the educational research for brain-based learning. The education world is finally beginning to adopt to this model, and Bruce Lesh is a pioneer for social studies educators.

His idea to create and evaluate essential questions for student learning can guide teachers from across content areas. The general idea of his lesson procudures will help all teachers. As a psychology teacher as well as history teacher, I have taken the model of the "history lab" and implemented into my psychology curriculum. Students will learn about psychology, not only by studying what has been done in the past, but by becoming psychologists themselves. Active learners retain and understand information longer and better. Lesh's understanding of this is portrayed in each lesson he provides in the book.

Lesh's book will trigger the cogs of every creative educators mind so that they to will find the answers to better their teaching.
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