To Judge or Not To Judge?

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One of our favorite testimonials on our website is from a tenth grade student: “The Four Question Method makes history more clear and helps me think.” That’s exactly the point of the whole project. Our big insight is that there are really only four questions that students can ask and answer in social studies, and… Read more »

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Books We Like

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The aim of our book, From Story To Judgment: The Four Question Method for Teaching and Learning Social Studies, is to make the thinking that defines the disciplines of history and social studies clear and accessible for both teachers and students. We believe that the Four Question Method (4QM) does that in a way that… Read more »

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The Hardest Job in Education

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In our book, we claim that social studies teachers have the hardest and most important job in education. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re already convinced (or you’re one of our close friends or relatives).  Though admittedly rhetorical — lots of things we teach in school are important — learning about both history… Read more »

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Who Gets A Statue?

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In this post Jon describes two lessons that ask students to make a specific judgment about a recurring question: Who gets a statue? Question Four in the Four Question Method is “What do we think about that?” This Question asks us to pass judgment on something that happened in the past. A classic judgment question… Read more »

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The Power of Representative Events

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One of the most challenging problems history and social studies teachers face is managing the enormous scope of content that we are responsible for teaching. One teacher we worked with a few years ago referred to that content as “a behemoth.” The Four Question Method gives teachers a way to tame that behemoth: by focusing… Read more »

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Quick Question Three

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In this post Gary describes some quick ways to get students thinking about Question Three: “Why then and there?” Question Three — why then and there? — is the hardest of the Four Questions. The Russians had a revolution in 1917. We can tell the story easily enough after consulting a decent textbook. We can… Read more »

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4QM Can Improve Your Existing Curriculum

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One of our favorite things about the Four Question Method (4QM) is how it helps social studies teachers to sort through and make better use of existing curriculum materials. We were reminded of this at a recent workshop when an eighth grade teacher said that he’d been using SHEG materials for years, and they sometimes… Read more »

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How Storyboarding Helps Learning

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In this post Jon describes how a storyboarding activity helped his students to make sense of lecture notes they’d taken on the Spanish Empire. This week in my tenth grade AP World History class we were learning about the Portuguese and Spanish Empires of the 15th – 18th centuries. I gave the same lecture on… Read more »

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In this post Gary describes two quick ways to get students practicing the historical thinking skills of narration and interpretation. In our new book, From Story to Judgment, we describe gold-standard activities — we call them “inquiry labs” — for practicing the Four Questions and the historical thinking skills associated with each of them: narration,… Read more »

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We history and social studies teachers know we should be asking our students to think about the history they’re learning, not just memorize it, so we often ask questions that look like thinking questions. But many of these questions don’t actually require the kind of historical thinking that we say we want students to do.… Read more »

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