RMartinello's picture

I am currently the History/Geography head at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge, Ontario. I teach History, Law and Civics. I am in my 26th year of teaching.

INCORPORATING HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS INTO AN INQUIRY PROCESS

The new Ontario curriculum calls for the integration of historical thinking concepts into our practice; it also calls for the integration of the inquiry model. While this is all fine and good, teachers are rarely given strategies of how to do this in our day to day lessons. The integration of the inquiry model produces some interesting challenges. Challenge one is making the move from teachers being deliverers of knowledge to facilitators of learning.  Challenge two is dealing with an extensive amount of content with limited time and resources. The move to a student based inquire model that examines history through the lens of historical thinking concepts may require us to focus less on content and more on process. In light of this, here’s a model that I am attempting to use in my teaching and by extension, I am asking my department to try the same model.

INTEGRATING HISTORICAL THINKING INTO THE INQUIRY METHOD – A MODEL FOR TEACHING

  1. IDENTIFY THE TOPIC FOR THE DAY’S LESSON
  2. IDENTIFY THE HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPT THAT WILL BE ADDRESSED IN THE LESSON
  3. IDENTIFY AN OVERRIDING QUESTION THAT FORMS THE BASIS FOR INQUIRY
  4. PROVIDE THE NEEDED CONTENT INFORMATION THAT WILL BE USED IN THE INQUIRY
  5. DESIGN AN ACTIVITY THAT HELPS THE STUDENT ADDRESSES THE QUESTION FOR INQUIRY
  6. PREPARE A FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITY IF NEED BE

 To help with the process, I examined the four historical thinking concepts that are directly addressed in the Ontario curriculum and designed a set of generic questions that could form the basis of the inquiry question for the day

HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS AND QUESTIONS FOR INQUIRY:

SIGNIFICANCE:

  1. IS IT SIGNIFICANT?
  2. WHAT MAKES IT SIGNIFICANT?
  3. HOW SIGNIFICANT IS IT?

CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE

  1. WHAT CAUSED THE EVENT TO HAPPEN?
  2. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE EVENT?
  3. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE EVENT?

CONTINUITY AND CHANGE

  1. HOW HAS SOCIETY CHANGED?
  2. WHY DID SOCIETY CHANGE?
  3. WAS CHANGE LONG LASTING?
  4. WAS CHANGE DEEP AND SIGNIFICANT?
  5. HOW DID SOCIETY STAY THE SAME?
  6. WHY DID IT STAY THE SAME?

PERSPECTIVE

  1. HOW DID PEOPLE AT THE TIME REACT?
  2. WERE ALL REACTIONS THE SAME?
  3. WHY WERE THERE DIFFERENT REACTIONS TO EVENTS?
  4. HOW DID DIFFERENT REACTIONS RESULT IN CHANGE?

 Based on this model, here is an example of a lesson I conducted with my grade 10 history class.

TOPIC: 

HALIFAX EXPLOSION

HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPT:           

CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE

QUESTION:                                                        

WHY DID IT HAPPEN?

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

BACKGROUND INFORMATION GIVEN ON DETAILS OF THE MONT BLANC AND IMO EXPLOSION. THIS INCLUDED TIME, LOCATION, RESULTS.

ACTIVITY:                                                           

STUDENTS ARE ARRANGED INTO GROUPS TO ACT AS A BOARD OF INQUIRY TO EXAMINE THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: WHAT HAPPENED?  WHY DID IT HAPPEN? WHO WAS TO BLAME (CAPTAIN OF MONT BLANC OR CAPTAIN OF IMO)? THE RESULTS OF THE BOARD OF INQUIRY ARE THEN POSTED.

RESOURCES:      

THE CBC WEBSITE HAS A NICE SITE THAT EXAMINES THE HALIFAX EXPLOSION. (http://www.cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion/) ONE OF THE DOCUMENTS I FOUND USEFUL FOR THIS ACTIVITY IS “WHO IS TO BLAME: THE HALIFAX EXPLOSION INQUIRY”. IT’S A GRAPHIC COMIC EXAMINATION OF THE EXPLOSION.

FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITY

  1. EACH BOARD OF INQUIRY CREATES A SERIES OF RECOMMENDATIONS THAT THEY BELIEVE SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED TO IDENTIFY
  2. WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING?
  3. WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS SHOULD BE PUT IN PLACE TO PREVENT FURTHER INCIDENTS LIKE THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN?
  4. WHAT PROCEDURES SHOULD BE PUT IN PLACE TO HELP THE CITY RESPOND TO EMERGENCIES LIKE THIS AGAIN?

I have used this model for other lessons. It provides a good framework, I believe, for integrating inquiry and historical thinking. The list of questions I generated using the historical thinking concepts as a basis is by no means full or extensive but it is a starting point.

 

What is a Benchmark?

<p>John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising &amp; Marketing History,<br />Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections</p>

A surveyor cut a "benchmark" into a stone or a wall when measuring the altitude and/or level of a tract of land. A bracket called a "bench" was secured in the cut to mount the surveying equipment, and all subsequent measurements were made in reference to the position and height of that mark.

The term "benchmark" was first used around 1842 to refer to a standard of quality by which achievement may be measured.

The foundation documents available through the Benchmarks site attempt to help teachers establish standards for assessing student learning of the modes of thought that constitute historical thinking.

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History,
Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections