Saturday, April 5, 2008

NCHE 2008: "America's Growing Pains" by Delise Sanders and Linda Flowers

This session was on teaching elementary-level students to engage in historical research. They began with a discussion of using pictures as primary sources.

When reviewing pictures with many people pictured, have each child choose one individual in the picture. Have children write about that individual by creating a story.

When reviewing pictures with much detail, cut the picture into sections and give groups of students one of the sections for analysis. Then, bring the groups together to share their sections and analyze the entire picture.

Have students prepare history reports over four week periods. Work students through the process of reading, researching, organizing, and writing. As students are reading, have them use highlighters to show different stages in an historical figure’s life. For example, use a yellow highlighter for young years, blue for middle years, and pink for older years. Research should take about two weeks and a good resource for helping students organize their research is:
Scholastic Teaching Resources. Grades 4-6 Graphic Organizer Booklets
The culminating projects can include a written report, a display board (including 5-8 primary sources), and a CD cover (including names of songs that relate to the individual’s life).

When choosing historical figures for students to research, choose atypical figures (not Lincoln). For example, choose women spies of the American Revolution or local heroes.

Recommended ideas and resources for teaching literacy through historical children's books:
  • Review Nancy Polette's books that include activities with picture books.
  • Make a commercial out of the front flap information.
  • Create reader’s theatre out of what is in the book.
  • Make a large picture of a person with the body of the person being the book report.
  • Use Dinah Zike foldables for reporting on character sketches and telling, the beginning/middle/end of texts.
  • Draw a mountain and show progression, climax, and resolution in a book. Practice with a picture book and have students do the activity with a chapter book.

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