Teacher Lesson Ideas

What Is History?

Start the year off by teaching students what they will experience in your classroom. Talk about major chronological themes that you will cover and how topics like economics, culture and geography are relevant across the time periods you will study. During the early part of the year introduce students to the notion that history is not just stuff to remember--history is an adventure in uncovering clues about past events. Teach students the difference between primary and secondary sources, and the general nature of historical inquiry. Historians ask questions of the past, and seek answers from the historical evidence found in secondary and primary sources. To see how historians go from primary source evidence to secondary source interpretation have your students look at their textbooks and ask, "how do they know that?" For instance, a South Carolina social studies text may discuss initial colonization via the charter granted to the Lords Proprietors. Who were the Lords Proprietors? Why did the King grant them a charter? What is a charter anyway? After examining the textbook, link the textbook discussion of the Lords Proprietors with study of the digitized primary source. By covering these topics early on students will know how to recognize history when they see it!

Roberta L. Rivers
Memminger Elementary School, SC
2002 Lowcounty Institute

Ruby Randall
James Simons Elementary School, SC
2002 Lowcountry Elementary School

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