How To Start A Unit

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How do you start your units? Do you hook them?  Textbooks, and textbook teachers, start their units with tasks. Make a map. Copy the vocab. Memorize the main “causes.”  Don’t do it. Start with a hook. If you’re introducing a new unit, hook the story that frames the unit. Something new and notable happened. British… Read more »

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4QM and “The Writing Revolution”

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or if you’ve attended one of our workshops, you know that we believe that good history teaching starts with teaching the story first, and you know that we believe that you should make time to formatively assess your students’ abilities to tell the story you taught them.… Read more »

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Formatively Assessing Historical Narrative

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In a post on 11/12/19, “What New Teachers Need,” I mentioned that Jon and I had created a lesson-planning playcard. For each of our Four Questions, the playcard lists teaching techniques and formative assessments. This week, we’re heading back to Newark to work with our friends at the Uncommon charter network. We’ll be unpacking and… Read more »

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If you’re a regular reader or have been to one of our workshops you know that we believe that almost all historical scholarship and debate can be described by our Four Questions. I recently came across a great example of a scholar making a classic 4QM style argument in J. C. Sharman’s short and polemical… Read more »

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A Storyteller’s Valediction

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The most charismatic teacher in my department, Robert G., retired last year. I’m not sure he was ready to go, but his spouse got a great job outside of commuting distance. And as Robert said at the time, quoting an African proverb, “a change is as good as a rest.”  Robert started at my school… Read more »

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The Q2/Q4 Problem

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Gary and I stack up blog post ideas in brief notations of one or two phrases to come back to later, and this week an experience in my tenth grade AP World History class brought me back to a file labelled “Q2/Q4 Problem.” This is a very common problem that happens in discussion classes and… Read more »

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What New Teachers Need

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New teachers need a lot. There are lots of ways to know that. Start by asking one. I sit down with the newbies in my department each week for a one-on-one supervision session. I ask how they are. They tell me they’re tired.  I like to think that our rookies are well supported, but still:… Read more »

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Jeff Bezos Loves 4QM!

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It turns out that Jeff Bezos, billionaire owner of Amazon, the Washington Post, and tons of other stuff, is a fan of the Four Question Method!  Well, not really. We assume that he has no idea we exist. (Feel free to re-tweet this at him, or send it to his linked in if you have… Read more »

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More On “Essential Questions”

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Last week Gary wrote about the persistence of “Essential Questions” in our field, even though we know that they don’t help teachers plan or students learn. I’m going to tag along here with a short post on the same topic. During our recent workshop day with curriculum planners at Uncommon Schools I had a similar… Read more »

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