History Matters, Part 3

To support cross-curricular strategy instruction and close reading for information, authors Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey have expanded their Toolkit Texts series to include a library of short nonfiction for American history. These two resources—Colonial Times and The American Revolution and Constitution—are out now.

In the final "History Matters" blog post, Anne and Stephanie describe how one class investigated lesser-known people of the past.

Beyond the “Usual Suspects”: Investigating Unrecognized Revolutionaries

by Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey

“Think as researchers, act as historians.” That’s what fifth graders experienced in Mariana McCormick’s history class at the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Not content to study the “usual suspects” of Revolutionary times, they created portraits, both visual and written, of individuals who played important but unrecognized roles in historical events.

Realizing that there are many people left out of typical history books, students delved into a scant and hard-to-find collection of primary and secondary sources on lesser well-known men, women, and children. Experiencing the same excitement and obstacles that practicing historians face, students researched and pieced together information from these unusual sources. Students then painted portraits and wrote lively biographies of their discoveries. Compiled into a class website, these serve as an original and engaging resource for a broader audience. (To view, go to http://unrecognizedrevolutionaries.blogspot.com.)

Over the course of the project, students reflected on their research process in an Inquiry Journal, keeping track of their learning and insights about “doing history”. This record illustrates that when kids are actively engaged in inquiry with a genuine purpose, their interest, motivation, and research skills soar!

Here are two of the biographies and portraits. Click the images to see full PDFs:

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We included several of these student projects in our latest resource, American Revolution and Constitution: Short Nonfiction for American History. These biographies serve as excellent examples of a student inquiry project in history, as well as valuable short historical texts of unrecognized revolutionaries for other students.

Read last week's History Matters, Part 2.

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Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey have enjoyed a fifteen-year collaboration in education as authors and staff developers. They are coauthors of the Heinemann titles Comprehension Going Forward and Strategies That Work. They have also created a family of bestselling classroom materials under Heinemann’s firsthand imprint: The Comprehension ToolkitThe Primary Comprehension ToolkitToolkit TextsComprehension InterventionScaffolding for ELLs, and Connecting Comprehension and Technology. Their newest resource, Short Nonfiction for American History, is discussed in this blog post

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