It’s Time to Make A Radical Move in Teaching History!

As students go through school they should be learning how to ask compelling questions and supporting questions, but students are finding it harder to do so because it requires higher level thinking skills. Not saying that students do not engaging higher level thinking skills everyday but it seems to become a challenge in the classroom setting. This really connects to common core standards and as always standardized testing. As teachers we should engage critical thinking skills because, one it’s in the standards that North Carolina gives us to teach by and secondly it prepare students for higher education classes. Sadly the higher-level critical thinking skills are not the ones that get tested on in standardized testing, so students do not see the point in learning those skills. So how can we except students to engage in higher critical thinking skills if it’s never tested outside of classroom assessments?

With in the North Carolina Standards for American History Part I and II, that we read in class last week, time and time again they use the words, “Apply”, “Analyze”, and “Evaluate” many of the standards require that students engage higher level thinking skills and by the end of the semester or year the goal is that the students have “mastered” these skills. Logically those skills should be tested at the end of the year but that’s not the case. The skills that are tested are factual knowledge and lower level thinking skills, when we looked at the test question and standards that match. In the article The C3 Framework, it mentions how common core “forces” teachers to engage these higher level thinking skills and gets students to think this way. But getting students to engage in this level of thinking is not impossible and some teachers do get students to reach this level of thinking, like the teacher that is from Central Wilkes High School. But like I said in week one something has to give, end of the year testing has to change! If test at the end of the year tested higher level thinking standards teachers were really would be forced to teach that way and students would move away from thinking that history class is just memorizing facts.

Teaching high school students can be a challenge, because some students think that are “just to cool for school”. As past high school students ourselves we can remember how some classes got so boring we checked out and we began to doodle on the notebook or started to text. More and more students I talk to mention how much they don’t like history always wondering how that connects to their life or the world around them. In today’s age students are surrounded by technology and new sources and some students are trying to figure it all out, and that’s when students begin to formulate compelling questions. In the C3 Framework article mentions that students want to learn so teachers must find a way to engage their students and making connections to the modern world. Making history relevant is one way to get students engaged in the curriculum.


2 thoughts on “It’s Time to Make A Radical Move in Teaching History!

  1. Higher order thinking is definitely something that we should be teaching our students, because in order to become better thinkers and become more engaged in their learning they need to be interested in the material. Even if we are using standardized testing at the end of the semester I believe that if the students have higher order thinking skills, they will have a better understanding of the basic knowledge on the exams. If we just teach students the facts, they are just using memorization and recalling this information for the test. I truly believe that higher order thinking skills are a critical part of a students knowledge of history.


  2. I hear what you are saying and I agree whole-heartedly. EOG/Cs are wonderful for assessing Knowledge learning targets but lack a way to assess the Reasoning, Skill, and Product sides of the equation. It has come to my attention both in high school and college that some teachers are just lazy. They’re attitude is a collective cry of “If it won’t be on the test then why teach t?” The answer? Because it will help students in the long run with both college and functioning as a well-informed, critical citizens. You mentioned the classes that we’ve all experienced before that put us to sleep or drive us mad with boredom. Students aren’t interest in dates and names. They are interested in narratives, connections, relevance. You touched on that and its worth mentioning. By getting them to think critically and ask questions, they can not only engage with the material in your specific class but also with the world around them in a way that is interesting, challenging, and productive.


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