Reading History – Document Analyses

We’re two classes in to our second round of the Reading History workshop series.  The overall aim for the class is to adopt approaches which help students read primary and secondary sources to develop an understanding of historical events and issues.  The class is being taught by Rich Christen and Peter Thacker from the University of Portland.

In our first class,  we asked teachers to consider a set of documents (focused on school segregation) and to respond to them (this approach of asking them to respond as both teachers and historians was borrowed from our friends at the Placer County Teaching American History Grant.)  We then asked them to give their students a set of documents fitting the unit they’re studying and to have the students respond to a set of questions which would serve as a pre-assessment for our targeted skills.

Last night, students used a document analysis sheet and a literacy strategy to help students independently approach a single document (we used George Wallace’s School House Door speech.)  Next, we’ll move to helping students consider multiple documents (again, using Wallace as the model.)

This work is part of the Lesson Study process, where groups of teachers

  1. deepen their own understanding of history skills, content, and approaches;
  2. assess their current students knowledge and abilities;
  3. identify, select, and extend a lesson to deepen those starting points;
  4. teach the lesson and carefully observe student responses; and
  5. reflect on the experience – both to revise the lesson as well as to use it as a means to learn more about the teaching and learning of history.

The class is brief – it only meets five times (six including the demonstration lesson.)  Teachers keep a log of related lessons for which they collect student work; student work samples are then considered through criterion based review.

The first group of teachers – from Longview, Kelso, and Winlock – completed this course earlier in the fall.  We’ll have further opportunities for teachers to engage:  Middle school teachers will be welcomed August 10 – 14, 2009 (with a focus on the Civil War) with follow up rounds in the fall and spring; elementary teachers will be invited the following year.

Note:  The following class – in which we explored working with multiple documents – is described here.


One response to “Reading History – Document Analyses

  1. Pingback: Reading History Workshop - Class 3 - Working with mulitple document « Teaching American History in SW Washington

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