Reading Curriculum

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By middle school, students who cannot read fluently and with comprehension need urgent help and attention. Students who cannot read historical nonfiction with fluency and comprehension — most students, when they first encounter it — urgently need the help of their Social Studies teachers. When they first encounter informational text about history and society, beginning… Read more »

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History teachers, especially new history teachers, have a really hard job: they’ve got to teach a lot of content, and they’ve got to teach it in a way that gets kids to think actively about it. It’s extremely difficult to do both things well, and anything that makes those tasks easier will be eagerly embraced.… Read more »

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4QM The News

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I don’t know about you, but I’m afraid of my phone. Email is fine, and phone calls from people I know are always welcome. But I’m in the habit of checking the news pretty much every time I pick up the phone. The habit is ingrained, so hard to break. Right now, reading the news… Read more »

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Going From “What” To “Why”

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History and social studies teachers are used to asking a lot of “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and hopefully why. At 4QM Teaching we contend that the first four of these are actually parts of what we call Question One:” What Happened?” And we believe that good history teaching starts with a good story… Read more »

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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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