This week’s post is by guest author Sarah Bassett. Sarah is a college sophomore, and a reluctant history student. She is also 4QM co-founder Jon Bassett’s daughter. In this post she describes how she used the Four Questions to de-mystify some unpleasant reading — a technique that we recommend for social studies students on all… Read more »

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Got “Planner’s Block?” Just Dump It!

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History teachers have a really hard job. I know I’m biased, but I actually think unit planning is harder for history teachers than it is for teachers of other subjects. Unit planning is especially challenging for us because we have an enormous amount of content to cover, and not a lot of guidance about what… Read more »

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The Pandemic and the 1950s

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When I was a young student of American history and American popular culture, the 1950s were described as a time of conformity. The 1950 sociological analysis The Lonely Crowd and the 1953 novel The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit described a numbing popular culture that valued consumerism and going along with the majority point… Read more »

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Why Live Teaching Matters

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Remote teaching and learning is boring. I don’t get to see much of my students, and some of them I don’t see at all. We teachers plan together as a 9th-grade team, and our “lessons” — defined now as “tasks” — are pretty clear and accessible. Students read, watch, write, reflect. Occasionally we post a… Read more »

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AP Exams, 2020: Redefining Rigor

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This year the College Board is being forced to rethink its definition of “rigor.” Because of the coronavirus pandemic, AP exams will be given online for students to take at home, and they will be forty-five minute open note tests. The history exams will be a single document-based question (DBQ), and a shortened one at… Read more »

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For Simplicity

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The Four Question Method is a kind of simplicity. There are a million different things you could teach in a History class, and thousands of different ways of teaching them. Jon and I, through patient observation and years of mutual haranguing, came up with the simplicity of the 4QM. Start with a story that reveals… Read more »

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Pandemic Questions Two & Three

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Since our school buildings closed in March, Gary and I have gone through several stages in thinking about “History Questions,” the 4QM Teaching blog. Now that Massachusetts schools are officially closed for the rest of the year, the current situation feels less like a temporary accommodation to crisis and more like a new normal. Given… Read more »

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Community In Adversity

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We, Jon and Gary, typically alternate writing blog posts every Sunday. We each have our take on things, and we take seriously the idea that ongoing dialogue is the best way to generate ideas. The Four Question Method really is the result of a decade of our arguing about the best way to teach history.… Read more »

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Rewriting An AP Essay Question

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Right before my school was shut down two weeks ago I assigned my AP World History students to write the 2015 World History AP exam DBQ, which is about the flu pandemic of 1918-1919. (At the time the coronavirus was still just a major current events story, not a full blown global crisis.) As I’ve… Read more »

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Approaching Crisis

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My departmental colleagues and I spent the past week scrambling to put together online learning activities for our students. We decided to approach the task by grade-level course. For our 9th-grade team, that was light lifting. We’ve been planning together the whole year. For 10th-grade Modern World History and 11th-grade US History, we decided that,… Read more »

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