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Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School History Classrooms (0) Paperback – June 10, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sam Wineburg, Margaret Jacks Professor of Education and Professor of History (by courtesy), Stanford University; Daisy Martin, co-director, National History Education Clearinghouse, George Mason University; and Chauncey Monte-Sano, assistant professor of history and social studies education, University of Maryland
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press; 60745th edition (June 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807752134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807752135
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,024,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Many history teachers would like to engage their students in history as an evidence-based, interpretive activity, but they don't have the time or skills to design the lessons to do so. This book is THE RESOURCE for history teachers who are short on time, skills or both. The pragmatic, easily implemented lessons on various topics in U.S. history will help students develop historical knowledge. Even more importantly, each lesson explicitly engages students in learning and deploying a key historical thinking skill.

The instructional units in the book are fully self-contained and include original historical sources, student guides and teacher directions. The guides use clean, direct formats and questions; this means the resulting student thought is complex, but the activities themselves are straightforward and simple to implement. Teacher-friendly formatting is also evident in the table overview of the book on page vii of the introduction. Each unit's core question, key historical thinking concept, and focal teaching strategy are listed in a table. This at-a-glance organizer will help teachers plan when to integrate the units into their courses. In future editions of the book, it would be good to see the information in this table added to the front of each chapter/unit.

Teachers that use the lessons in the Reading like a Historian book will also want to access the many additional Reading like a Historian lessons that are available online.

As a curriculum and professional development designer, I have seen many commercial and non-profit history instructional units of historical integrity, but that are utterly impractical for teachers to actually use.
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As a middle and high school history teacher, I want my students to learn to think like historians -- to read primary sources deeply and critically, to weigh different accounts, and to develop and defend their own interpretations of the past. I also want to help them become stronger, more independent readers of a variety of texts. And, of course, I want them to develop content knowledge that includes not just who, what and when, but a good understanding of the themes and concepts that give meaning to the facts.

I have spent years teaching and providing instructional coaching in classrooms where students range in reading level from primary through college. And I have spent hours combing through primary sources in search of ones that will be compelling and accessible to my students, and hours more doing my own background reading to determine the major issues for a given event. There have been plenty of times when I've run classes that only do part of what I want to do, or only do what I want to do for some of my students.

If this sounds familiar, this book is for you. Reading Like A Historian is easy to use, but not in the "follow this script" way. The authors assume that teachers are knowledgeable in their content area and about their students, and provides tools teachers can use flexibly to meet the needs of their classrooms. Reading Like a Historian also assumes that, as a teacher, your goal is not one or two interesting activities but rather a course that engages students consistently and supports them in becoming independent readers, writers and thinkers.
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Stanford Professor Sam Wineburg has been leading a multi-tiered revolution in the world of not only teaching but, more importantly, student learning in history and social studies. This book not only provides the context for what Sam and his able team (Daisy Martin and Chauncey Monte-Sano, among others) have been doing for the last several years, it provides practical examples of a variety of learning tools along with specific historical examples to fully demonstrate these tools.

Most importantly, this work offers teachers at ALL levels a flexible interface to engage in this type of approach to student learning. As Wineburg himself says, he wants students to develop their historical thinking skills so that they are educated consumers and citizens. Too often, those of us in the ivory tower have tried to get our students to read and interpret history just like we do. With the exception of our best students, that just isn't realistic or even possible. In fact, they often do it on our own because they arrive on our door step with their toolkits in hand.

Even students reading below grade level can benefit from Wineburg's approach. Furthermore, the authors do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, they demonstrate for teachers and students how to use a textbook as one of many sources. No matter your individual opinions about textbooks, they are a fact of life for most classrooom teachers engaging their student in the study of history. And school administrators, school boards, and parents expect them to be used. This book gives them the opportunity to more effectively utilize these extant classroom materials.

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