<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=940171109376247&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Dedicated to Teachers

Making History Relevant for Students

Making History Relevant for Students

China Harvey and Lisa Herzig's Teaching Beyond the Timeline released on April 16th! Watch the authors discuss how making history relevant for students is vital to their engagement and critical thinking skills.


Lisa Herzig:

The students that we have increasingly really don’t understand why history matters—and I think that has national and global implications. A lot of the critical thinking skills we do in history are important to being good citizens in the nation, as well as in the world. It’s high stakes to get kids interested in history and not just look at it as something that happened a long time ago that probably has nothing to do with their lives at all. The relevance piece is really an important goal of ours in this book: to help make that connection, to engage students, and also to help them really see that history is their history, and they’re part of it and it affects them. Decisions made even hundreds of years ago still have an impact on their lives. By starting at the beginning, starting in their present and working our way back and creating inquiry-based questions for them to trace is really the way we’ve tried to hook them and see that history as something important. More than something that happened in the past.

China Harvey:

Students are always asking us, “Why do I need to know this?” That relevance piece is so key to getting students to act as mini historians, because that’s what historians do: they ask questions, they investigate, they try to discover patterns; causation, change over time. Starting with the present day really helps to increase that relevance. I have a couple examples. First I’m thinking of our women’s rights movement. We start looking at the new kind of debate over whether or not the Equal Rights Amendment should be ratified and how some states are arguing it should and some are saying it shouldn’t. When you start in the present day, then you go back and trace the women’s rights movement over the course of 200 years, they start seeing ‘okay, now I see why people are talking about this today and why it matters today.’

Another example is in our foreign policy unit, we started by talking abut the U.S.’ involvement with Russia and Ukraine or the U.S. looking at the Israel-Hamas War and the U.S.’ role in that. What has been motivating U.S. foreign policy over time? Let's go back. Let’s go back to the American Revolution and look at motivating factors for the U.S.’ foreign policy decisions. That hooks students from the beginning.

To learn more about engaging students in thematic history, join China Harvey and Lisa Herzig for an event on May 22, 2024.

Register Here

Listen to China Harvey and Lisa Herzig on the Heinemann podcast discuss their new book.

Beyond the Timeline_ Book Cover


Teaching Beyond the Timeline: Engaging Students in Thematic History is available now!

Order Teaching Beyond the Timeline


Sign up for our Newsletter!

China Harvey (L) is currently a high school social studies teacher and has served as instructional coach and teacher on special assignment, developing curriculum, leading professional development trainings, and helping to write the course of study for her district’s U.S. History course. She has led professional development workshops for teachers across the country, serving as a Teaching Fellow for Brown University’s The Choices Program, facilitating teacher cohorts for Learning for Justice, and working with elementaryHarveyHerzig_Headshot teachers and the community on moving beyond the myths surrounding Native American history.  

Lisa Herzig (R) teaches high school students in World History, U.S. History, and AP U.S. History. Selected as a teacher on special assignment for her department, she was also a district finalist for “Teacher of the Year” award. Over the span of her career, she has helped create district-wide assessments, worked on curriculum development, and has written courses of study for World and U.S. History. 

Topics: Teaching Beyond the Timeline, China Harvey, Lisa Herzig

Date Published: 04/17/24

Related Posts

Creating a Central Course Theme in a History Class

The following is an adapted excerpt from China Harvey and Lisa Herzig’s recently released Teaching Beyond...
May 30, 2024 11:51:12 AM

ON THE PODCAST: The Power of Teaching History Thematically

For so long, history has been taught chronologically, but does it have to be and should it be? China Harv...
Apr 16, 2024 4:00:00 AM

Engaging Students in History Through Current Events

The following is an adapted excerpt from China Harvey and Lisa Herzig’s forthcoming Teaching Beyond the T...
Apr 12, 2024 11:08:11 AM