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Summer Boot Camp: 5 Ways to Get Excited about Teaching U.S. History

Learning Resourcesamy sharonyComment
History is more than just names, dates, wars, treaties, and timelines. If your homeschool history class could use a boost of inspiration, use this summer to kick things up a notch with these history resources and ideas.

History is more than just names, dates, wars, treaties, and timelines. If your homeschool history class could use a boost of inspiration, use this summer to kick things up a notch with these history resources and ideas.

READ THIS

Go Beyond the Textbook: History professor Will Fitzhugh believes that history teachers and students should be reading good history books—not just textbooks. Some of his faves for your summer reading list: Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough, Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer, Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson, and The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough.

 

WATCH THIS

History, Meet Technology: Historian Thomas Ketchell explores the complex question of whether facts matter in an age of instant-access information and how to use technology to make history relevant and engaging in this Ted talk. Ketchell’s ideas about Twitter and Minecraft in the classroom may not be a perfect fit for your homeschool, but they’ll definitely make you think about new ways of considering history.

 

EXPERT ADVICE

Rethink Where You Begin: If your U.S. History plans start on the Bering Strait bridge, historian Annette Atkins says you may be missing the chance to make history truly relevant for your student. In this essay, Atkins explains why she starts her history classes with current events—and how that gets students excited about diving into the past.

 

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Shift Your Emphasis: The point of history isn’t to memorize a bunch of facts but to be able to interpret and analyze historical documents and events so that we can construct meaningful narratives about the past. Why Won't You Just Tell us the Answer?: Teaching historical Thinking in Grades 7- 12 walks you through how to shift your history studies from memorization toward interpretive and interrogative examination.

 

AIM HIGHER

Encourage Deep Research: The Concord Review publishes original historical research by high school students. For kids who are passionate about history, crafting a 4,000- to 6,000-plus-word essay in strict Turabian style to submit for publication can be a highlight of a U.S. history class. Browse some of the published work— it’s quite impressive—and consider encouraging your student to submit.

This list is excerpted from our Summer Boot Camp Guide in the summer 2016 issue of HSL.