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The authors have spent a number of years working with teachers in just such classrooms. They have seen powerful historical study in classes where many of the children were recent immigrants, as well as in classes where children's families have lived in the same area for nearly two hundred years. Some classes are full inclusion programs where the special education and "regular" teachers team teach; most include students with special needs, at least for social studies. The classrooms range from urban and suburban to rural settings. But despite their differences, these communities of inquiry have several things in common. In each one, even the youngest children describe historical study as interesting and important. Moreover, historical study in each of these classrooms deals with important historical content and engages students in authentic historical inquiry. All students are invited to be historical participants. Throughout the book, the authors draw on these classrooms to provide models of instructionally sound, thoughtful, and thought provoking history teaching with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Most chapters also begin with a vignette from one of these classrooms.
These vignettes serve as snapshots of history in action -- including some of the obstacles even good teachers face. Each is a glimpse of a particular experience of teaching and learning history. The chapters put each vignette in perspective -- explaining why it is sound instruction and sound history and providing examples of activities ranging from the first years of primary school through the end of the middle grades. In structuring the book this way, the authors suggest a framework for rethinking history instruction at the elementary and middle school levels. Their goal is to stimulate readers' thinking relative to applying the ideas presented here to their own classrooms and students.
About: Imagine a group of primary students debating whether Christopher Columbus should be considered a hero, or eighth graders producing a video to examine whether a historic document -- the Bill of Rights -- speaks to current issues.
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