History = Literacy

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Over the past few years there has been increasing attention paid to “the science of reading.” A few journalists (including our friend and advisor Natalie Wexler) have been pointing out that too many American kids don’t learn to read or don’t learn to read well, because too many elementary schools ignore what science has proven… Read more »

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Nashville Rocks!

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We just completed a 4QM curriculum pilot at Nashville Classical Charter School. Nashville Classical uses Core Knowledge curriculum in the elementary grades. They give it high marks in K-2, where history is integrated into a top quality literacy curriculum. In upper elementary, grades 3-5, the CK materials they have are good, but not great. They… Read more »

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A Psychological Test for the 4QM

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Jon and I got invited to present at a Learning and the Brain conference in New York last weekend. Before we presented, we got to hear a series of talks by psychologists and neuroscientists. I have to say, it made me nervous. We figured out the Four Question Method by teaching real students ourselves and… Read more »

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The 4QM Research Essay Challenge

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It’s research essay season at my school again. Two years ago, when the pandemic broke out, the research we typically require in our core classes was a casualty. We could barely get our students to show up at Zoom sessions, let alone slog through the research.  Last year it reappeared, but like everything else, with… Read more »

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“Thematic Units” Done Right

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During a conversation with a 4QM Teaching client this week he mentioned that, “I know you guys don’t do thematic units.” He’s right. Thematic units, such as one that compares the American, French, and Russian revolutions, are not part of our repertoire. That’s because to actually understand a thematic unit, students need to hold multiple… Read more »

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The Activity Trap

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In this post Gary observes that we sometimes design lessons that look productive — like a busy beehive — but aren’t, and explains how the Four Question Method’s definition of intellectual puzzles can make sure that students really are thinking. A Well-Planned Cooperative Activity is a Thing of Beauty  At its best, a cooperative activity… Read more »

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Two weeks ago in this space, I wrote about common challenges teachers face in getting students to work productively with primary sources. One of those challenges is getting students to do more than simply repeat what the author said. Granted, even that can be quite difficult when we’re dealing with sources written in unfamiliar or… Read more »

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Facts Or Skills?

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Gary and I first created the Four Question Method to solve a common problem facing history teachers: how can we teach our mandated content while also teaching students to think about what they learn? Limited instructional time can make these two imperatives seem mutually exclusive. Teaching and learning content takes time, as does thinking about… Read more »

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Troubleshooting “Document Analysis”

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One of the most common and familiar activities in the social studies classroom is document analysis. Teacher training programs encourage it and our curriculum materials support it. I’ve got a shelf of document primary source readers on my office bookshelf, which I rarely use any more but can’t bear to part with. The internet is… Read more »

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