I have been thinking about the way we teach history for awhile. There have been conversations about doing things thematically, or from present to the past or... History teachers have the complex job of teaching an every growing curriculum. History continues to grow and become more complex. I work with teachers who at times get bogged down in the curriculum feeling like they have to teach this or that because it says so in the curriculum. I feel very fortunate in my experience that I had lots of freedom to create curriculum as I saw fit. On the other hand I created much of the curriculum early on in my career based on the Chapter 1 section 1 methodology.
I was exposed to Understanding by Design or Backward design years ago and it opened my eyes to a new way of looking at teaching history and any content. The premise is you start with the end goal in mind. What you want students to learn and then how will they demonstrate they have learned this.
To this end how do you come up with what is truly important enough to teach in 180 days of school? Then subtract out days for testing and special events and the days leading up to and just after breaks that impact learning and you have lost a significant number of days of instruction. So how do you fit in all the content with fewer days? Focus on what is most important. This is where Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions come in.
Think about the ways you can incorporate multiple topics in one learning unit. Concepts like justice or inequality, or examining cause and effects connect multiple events. What does it mean to be civilized?
Tonight we are looking at creating Essential Questions for your class. I will drop one word, a question starter and you complete the rest.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.