The High Stakes Of Getting The Question Right

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Ms. R came to me with a problem. She teaches Social Studies in an alternative program at my school. Her students are an extraordinarily diverse group, but all have this in common: they’ve traveled a complicated road to get to her program. At the end of a unit on the American Civil War, Ms. R… Read more »

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4QM Featured in “The American Historian”

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The November 2018 edition of The American Historian, a publication of the Organization of American Historians, features an article titled “What’s The Question? Naming and Teaching Thinking Skills in Secondary History Classrooms.” Normally you’d have to be an OAH member to access it, but because you are on our blog page you can read it here!

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The “MAIN” Causes of WWI Aren’t

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Many world history teachers are familiar with a handy acronym for teaching the causes of World War One: “MAIN.” Its letters stand for Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, Nationalism. But unfortunately for history teachers and students, the MAIN causes of World War One really aren’t: none of those things actually caused the war. We can demonstrate this… Read more »

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At our 4QM workshops, we coach teachers on unit planning. We tell them that the first decision they need to make is about what unit story they want to tell. Then we show them our technique for making that decision in a way that allows teachers to plan coherently and students to have lots of… Read more »

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What Were The Anti-Federalists Thinking?

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The federalist/anti-federalist debate is a great opportunity to study Question Two of the Four Question Method: “What were they thinking?” Good students (and teachers) of American history know that the anti-federalists opposed the ratification of the constitution. But good students (and teachers) of American history also want to know why the anti-federalists opposed the constitution.… Read more »

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Reveal Codes

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The old Wordperfect word processing program, from the technological Stone Age — yes, kids, there was competition for Microsoft Word back in the day — had a really cool feature. You could hit a function key and “reveal codes.” That was a great command. It showed you on the screen what the program was doing… Read more »

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What Were The Federalists Thinking?

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I recently read a New York Times op-ed about elections in Pakistan that made me think of the federalists. Many students struggle to empathize with the federalists. Epitomized by the now Broadway-musically famous Alexander Hamilton, the federalists counted George Washington and many other founders of the United States among their number. They were candidly elitist:… Read more »

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We Should Stop Hiding The Story

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History teachers think that teaching kids to think means teaching them to make arguments. That’s partly true. An argument — a claim, supported by evidence and reasoning — is a species of thinking. But it’s not the only kind of thinking we need to teach students to do. On the contrary: it’s not even the… Read more »

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