We’re still teaching like this?!

October 29, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in best practices, education, history, strategies, teachers | 3 Comments

About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a high school American History class and what I saw shocked me.

On the board was listed 10 weeks worth of homework assignments by due dates:

  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Q&A, pg blah blah
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • The Constitution
  • etc.

Well, at least there was clear expectations…for the materials that the students need to cover.  What exactly are the students supposed to learn of American History?  I don’t know, but I do know they need to read a chapter a week, who cares what the chapter’s about. 

Perhaps I’m alone in looking at the list and feeling outraged.

Somehow, I thought History class should be more interesting, more involved, more though provocative given the state of our country today.

Now, keeping in mind that I’m a second grade teacher and that MY American History teacher taught in the EXACT same manner as above and I don’t remember a THING about American History, here’s a proposed list of assignments that I would have liked to have seen on the board.

  • Who lived in pre-colonial America?  Choose one people to read up on, create an artifact relevant to these people and be prepared for show-and-tell.
  • What happened to indigenous population once European settlement of the Americas began?  Choose a side, pro or con, and be prepared for a debate on the benefits of European settlement.
  • Could colonial America be built without the use of slavery?  Be prepared for a debate on the pros and cons of slavery.  You will be assigned a side at the time of the debate.
  • Was it ethical for colonial America to declare independence from Great Britain?  Write a Declaration of Independence to secede California from the U.S.  You may work with partners or alone.

And so on.

It’s not as if as a teacher you would need to create new materials.  The mandated textbook could be used to find all this information.  Of course, some students might decide it’s worth their time to look up the information on the Internet, maybe even a library search, or a discussion with their parents…

I don’t know.  I’m not a History teacher.  Maybe you History teachers can weigh in on this.  What do you think?



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  1. I don’t teach in the same manner that this teacher does. However, For me it is difficult to teach in the manner, you’ve just suggested. I do somethings like this; but it difficult with the behavior and text to implement stuff like this. The text does not cover the material completely (I have to fill in the holes) and the students struggle to read the text. So, I give quite a few notes and then there is an activity to go along with the notes. It is during that activity that we have games or small projects. Limited resources also have affect on how you can teach a good history course. History students should be researching. But, I have no computers in my room and the lab is almost impossible to get. Expecting students to research outside of class is asking “too much.” I don’t know the solution to teaching a good history class. Its a lot of preparation for activities b/c when we do the research stuff, I have to print it all out and bring it to class. I make rubrics. Maybe I’m missing something that others can help me with . . I don’t like the idea of note taking and written work . . .but activities often are a lot of trouble and can result in chaos rather than learning.

  2. soo many typos. . . .forgive me!

  3. Miss A, it sounds like you are doing a whole lot more to make your class interesting and relevant than the class I blogged about! Kudos to you! You bring up some very important questions and I hope other teachers can answer them.

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