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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“Because, But, So” Sentences

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In January I posted about how I’m using The Writing Revolution by Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler to help me teach writing. I often use 4-sentence stories as formative assessments to see if my students have understood the story that is at the heart of a unit, and this week I want to share another… Read more »

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Trust Your Story

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In my first year of high school History teaching, Jon, now my partner in 4QM Teaching, was my supervisor. One of the first pieces of feedback he ever gave me was that I was committing an error called “lecto-scussion.” A lecto-scussion is a mix of lecture and discussion. That means that you, the teacher, talk… Read more »

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Helping Students Contextualize

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the historical thinking skill of “contextualization.” Contextualization is most often employed when we’re working with a document, although the College Board also gives a point for it on their no-documents Long Essay Question, acknowledging that we can (and should) contextualize historical events, people, and ideas as well as… Read more »

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Project Planning and Storytelling

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I wrote a couple of times last year (on 1/6/19 and 5/19/19, to be exact) about my school’s plans to create a temporary 9th-grade academy. My department took that opportunity to revisit our 9th-grade World History course, which was badly in need of an overhaul. We call our new course WHISP, for World History: Identity,… Read more »

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