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

40 customer reviews
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 + Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What the book intends to do, and what is does well, is provide a 'road map' for those who wish to teach historical thinking skills in the secondary classroom. Lesh has written a valuable book for history teachers at the secondary level." - The History Teacher


"Teachers are shown how to teach history using interpretive questions and interrogative evidence in this exciting alternative to traditional history paths, recommended for any educator's collection." - Midwest Book Review

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers (May 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571108122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571108128
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JP on December 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a trained and experienced teacher, I found this text disappointing. While it was probably innovative when it was published, its "investigative" lessons are now standard for competent history teachers. I was hoping to see many examples and a framework for how to design historical thinking lessons, instead my time searching the internet has been much more effective. I appreciate the main idea and the impact the book made on history teaching, but I regret paying for and reading the book.
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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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3 of 3 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By andy on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Over my 20+ year teaching career, I have been shifting from copy the notes and regurgitate on a test to a much greater emphasis on primary sources and thinking skills. Lesh's book has articulated and affirmed what I've been doing and given me ideas on how to help my students think like historians. The book isn't full of ready to use lessons, but he walks through some of his lessons, sharing what he's learned and tweaked over the years. This book is more of a template for creating these lessons for the units I teach.
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6 of 8 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 2 people found the following review helpful By Duran A. Valdez on November 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the best book on teaching history I've read since Lies My Teacher Told Me. Unlike many authors on this subject, Lesh has a vision for what should replace the rote form of learning employed in so many history classrooms. I plan on making use of many of these ideas when I meet with my fellow history teachers tomorrow to design our Common Core aligned curriculum for next year.
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4 of 5 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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