Historical Knowledge

1003 Words 5 Pages
Nina, I like your idea about providing documents that reflect only one point of view and asking students to take the other side. I will try that in my class. Thanks!
This back and forth between Stan, Harry, and Philip captures the depth of a conversation that might happen in a department professional development session between colleagues that have worked together for years; however, this was an asynchronous conversation between two Ohio teachers and a California teacher whom have never met.
I am curious about others ' opinions on how to best address the challenge of building enough content to allow students to write with authority on a topic. In other words, without content knowledge, students will have only shallow judgments to Suspend,
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E.D. Hirsch has long debated this in his work on cultural literacy and core knowledge. This breadth vs. depth argument causes teachers to debate on whether they should focus on a few topics so students have time to absorb and comprehend the inner workings of the subject? Or should they cover every topic so students get exposed to the subject and can later pursue those parts that interest them? I call this the "coverage treadmill" and believe accountability testing has sucked the joy out of teaching History. Too many teachers in too many districts are held to unrealistic pacing plans that make them sprint through the curriculum. Sipress & Voelker (2011) have written eloquently about the rise and fall of the coverage model in history instruction, if you are interested in further reading. You are not alone in convulsing over this problem. Personally, I hope that adaptive testing will be used in History, so that a student can choose an era, or event they are confident about and complete an assessment task using historical documents and critical thinking skills. Many teachers divide this debate into teaching content vs. teaching skills. It is controversial in many History departments where teachers think of themselves as content "experts." My argument is that we shouldn 't limit ourselves to doing one or the other. We should teach content by teaching

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