Students as Historians
The Common Core standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies emphasize thinking skills, primary sources, evidence, analysis, point of view or perspective, and argument. These are not merely, or even primarily, English / Language Arts skills. They are closely related to historical inquiry, a process of helping students to do history or act as historians. Under pressure to cover the content standards and raise student test scores, history teachers have had little time to devote to historical inquiry. Now when teachers take the time to have students analyze a primary source, they are teaching the Common Core Reading Standards for Literacy in History-Social Studies RH1, RH2, RH4, RH8, and RH9. They can proudly write the standards on the board for principals and the whole world to see. Teachers now have the opportunity to teach history in a more exciting, engaging, and thoughtful way. Hutton, S. (2012). [Web log message].
The Common Core Standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies
There are a number of historians and history educators working on improving instruction. Their work often correlates directly to the Common Core Standards. Consider the research conducted by Sam Wineberg and the Stanford History Education Group. Abby Reismann recently wrote an article, "Reading like a Historian," giving the results of a study done in San Francisco high schools. The study teachers switched to teaching primary source documents using analysis questions. Not only did the students score better on reading tests, but also on historical content assessments. Hutton, S. (2012)> [Web log message].
The process of capturing oral histories as exemplified by this project helps teachers and student meet the Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Science, Science, and Technical Subjects. These reflect more rigorous standards, adding depth and description to the development of content literacy. Generally, the Common Core standards represent added rigor through:
- A focus on discipline-specific vocabulary
- Understanding unique text structures in informational text
- Expecting students to read and write in other content areas
- Expecting students to develop informational writing skills
- A focus on text analysis