Teaching historical thinking
Doing historical inquiry
Sponsors
Teaching historical thinking
Doing historical inquiry
Sponsors

Teaching historical thinking

The study of history comes alive and is more engaging and meaningful for students when they learn how to think like an historian.

 

Introducing the core concepts of historical thinking

Building on the work of Professor Peter Seixas of the University of British Columbia, TC² has developed engaging videos with accompanying lesson plans to introduce students to six historical thinking concepts that enable them to go beyond merely learning historical information to thinking deeply about history.

Historical significance

This video introduces students to the factors that determine what and who from the past should be remembered, researched, taught and learned (7:14 minutes)

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Lesson plan Grades 6-8
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Lesson plan Grades 9-12

Evidence and interpretation

This video introduces the validation, interpretation and use of primary and secondary sources of historical information in the construction of historical accounts and arguments (6:55 minutes)

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Lesson plan Grades 6-8
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Lesson plan Grades 9-12

Continuity and change

This video explains how lives and conditions are alike over periods of time and how they changed for people and societies that came before and after (6:19 minutes)

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Lesson plan Grades 6-8
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Lesson plan Grades 9-12

Cause and consequence

This video considers who or what influenced history and what were the repercussions of these changes (6:20 minutes)

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Lesson plan Grades 6-8
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Lesson plan Grades 9-12

Historical perspective

This video discusses the viewing of the past through the social, intellectual, emotional and ethical lenses of the time (5:53 minutes)

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Lesson plan Grades 6-8
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Lesson plan Grades 9-12

Ethical judgment

This video explores assessing the past and the implications of past actions in light of past and present norms about the appropriate treatment of others (6:53 minutes)

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Lesson plan Grades 6-8
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Lesson plan Grades 9-12

Resources to support historical thinking

Thinking historically with source documents

This six-page reference guide identifies freely available video, print and online resources that explain historical thinking, suggest how to teach it and offer sources of historical documents and images on topics in Canadian history. Also indicated at the end of this guide are exemplary resources available for purchase.

Teaching Historical Thinking

This print resource elaborates on the six interrelated concepts central to students' ability to think about history. It offers specific suggestions for introducing the concepts to students and for applying them throughout the history curriculum.

Exemplars in Historical Thinking: 20th Century Canada

This print resource contains teaching instructions, reproducible activity sheets and assessment support addressing a range of events and people in 20th century Canada. The nine critical challenges build upon the six concepts of historical thinking.

Doing historical inquiry

Students bring history to life and direct their own learning by doing history, particularly through rich, hands-on project-based inquiry. With the following resources, educators can support students to research their own inquiry, take intellectual risks and learn curricular content by constructing meaning rather than simply absorbing facts.

 

Using heritage fairs to support historical inquiry

Heritage fairs provide an excellent opportunity for project-based historical learning. Students research their own inquiry questions and use the media of their choice to present the results at a public exhibition.

Seven steps to a powerful Heritage Fair project

This online guide, developed by the BC Heritage Fairs Society in partnership with TC², helps teachers support students with their heritage fair projects. It offers suggestions for how to help students choose and refine a topic of personal and historical significance, dig deeply and critically into that topic, connect their findings with broader themes, social issues and “big ideas” in the curriculum and creatively share their conclusions in a public forum.

Enriching projects with historical thinking concepts

This Tips for Teachers document outlines the value of embedding historical thinking concepts in projects, and how specific concepts help guide more rigorous historical inquiry. Sample questions from actual heritage fair projects are provided to illustrate how each of the six historical thinking concepts can be embedded.

Tools to support historical inquiry

The following lesson plans from the Tools for Thought collection develop the techniques of effective historical research and inquiry. These resources, useful at both the elementary and secondary levels, include teacher notes, detailed instructions and relevant activity sheets.

Research questions

Preparing effective questions to guide research

Impact timeline

Visually demonstrating the sequence and span of related events and showing the impact of these events

Read around the document

Identifying clues around the ‘edges’ of a historical document to learn about its author, audience, origin, purpose and type

Interviewing techniques

Using strategies to prepare and conduct interviews

Relevant details

Distinguishing between important and unimportant information or facts for a specific research question and purpose

Connecting facts to conclusions

Writing well-structured paragraphs that organize facts and indicate how they support the overall conclusion

Resonating voice

Using verbal communication strategies to connect with an audience

Sponsors

The online and video resources that are part of Thinking about History are published with the support of the following groups:

British Columbia Heritage Fairs Society The Vancouver Foundation Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund The History Education Network / Histoire et Éducation en Réseau Chinese Canadian Stories Vancouver School Board