History Critical Thinking Critical Thinking A Handbook for Using Historical Documents to Improve Students’ Thinking Skills in the Secondary Grades

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  • History&CriticalThinking

    AHandbookfor

    UsingHistoricalDocumentstoImproveStudentsThinkingSkills

    intheSecondaryGrades

    MichaelEdmondsJenniferA.HullErikaL.JanikKeliRylance

    Madison:

    WisconsinHistoricalSociety

    LibraryArchivesDivision

    2005

    www.wisconsinhistory.org

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    CopyrightWisconsinHistoricalSociety2005

    Anythinginthishandbookmaybefreelyreproducedforclassroomorothernonprofiteducationaluse.

    Nothinginitmaybecopiedforresaleorcommercialpurposes

    withoutpriorconsentfrom

    WisconsinHistoricalSociety816StateStreet

    MadisonWI53706

    TheentirecontentsofthishandbookarealsoavailableforfreeinPDFformatatwww.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints

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    Contents

    I.WhyThisHandbook? 4

    II.TheElementsofCriticalThinking 610commonerrorsoflogicinargumentativewriting 14

    III.NurturingCriticalThinkingintheClassroom 2330classroomtechniquesthatencouragecriticalthinking

    IV.PrimarySourcesonWisconsinHistoryAvailableFreeOnline 291,000Wis.documentsatwww.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints

    V.20ModelLessonsUsingPrimarySourcesfromWisconsinHistory 31 integratingtheseintoyourU.S.historytextbook 72

    VI.WisconsinHistoryPerformanceStandards 80

    VII.CriticalThinking:ASelectedBibliography 83

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    PartI

    WhyThisHandbook?

    ThishandbookisdesignedforusewithdigitalcollectionsofprimarysourcesavailableattheWisconsinHistoricalSocietysWebsite(www.wisconsinhistory.org).

    Itreproducesactivitiesfromworkshopsofferedtoteachersin2005bytheSociety.Itsfirsthalfreviewstheelementsofcriticalthinkingastheypertaintounderstandingandanalyzinghistoricalevidence.Thisincludes10handoutsthatcanbequicklyadaptedforusewithstudents,aswellasatoolkitofclassroomtechniquesforencouragingcriticalthinkingandaguidetoevaluatingit.Thehandbookssecondhalfoffers20modellessons,eachofwhichcentersonasingledocumentavailableonlineattheSocietysTurningPointsinWisconsinHistorycollection(www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints).TheselessonsspanallerastaughtinU.S.historyclasses,connectlocalWisconsinhistorytonationalthemesinstandardtextbooks,andwalkstudentsandteachersthroughtheanalysisofeyewitnessaccountswithspecificsuggestionsfordevelopingcriticalthinkingskills.

    Usingprimarysources,especiallytodevelopcriticalthinking,isanunfamiliarpracticeinmostsecondarylevelhistoryclasses.Historyhastraditionallybeentaughtnotasapracticeinwhichstudentsengagebutratherasacollectionofdatathattheymaster.Comeon,Bart,MargeSimpsonsaysinarecentepisodeofthewellknowncartoonseries,TheSimpsons.Historycanbefun.Itslikeanamusementparkexceptinsteadofrides,yougettomemorizedates.(MagicalHistoryTour,whichairedDec.22,2004).

    LikeMarge,wehatetoadmitthatmostkidsfindhistoryboringandwetrytopersuadethemthatitssomethingtheyshouldenjoy.But,lulledbyoversimplifiedgeneralizationsanddeadenedbyastreamofnamesanddatesunrelatedtotheirownlives,theyknowbetterthantobelieveus.Itsnowonderthattheycanbereluctanttoengageoriginalhistoricaldocuments.MyteachermadeususethisWebsite[AmericanJourneys],onestudenttoldusthroughourfeedbackbutton.Idratherhaveallthespinalfluiddrainedfrommybody.

    Itssadthatayoungpersonwithsomuchspunk,intelligence,andeloquenceasthatcorrespondentshouldmissthebenefitsthathistoryhastooffer,especiallyitspotentialtobeawhetstoneforsharpeningcriticalintelligence.

    Thepastisrarelysimple.Thereareusuallymorethantwosidestoaquestion:historicaleventsarenotneatlybalancedrectanglesbutirregularpolyhedronsthatshifttheirshapeasonechangesonesperspective.Whenstudentsengagetheirmindson

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    historicalevidence,theypracticeinquiry,evaluation,problemsolving,judgement,andsynthesistheveryskillsneededtobeausefulfriendandaneffectivecitizen.Historicaldocumentsareoneoftheeasiestandmostengagingwaystoteachyoungpeoplehowtothinkclearlyandmakesounddecisions.

    Butbecausestudentsdontusuallyseeprimarysourcesinhistoryclasses,theyreportinoverwhelmingnumbersthathistoryboresthem.Oneformerstudentcalledhishistoryclassesaboutasexcitingasaclamrace.Alltheywantedtotalkaboutwasnumbersanddates.Itceasedtobeaboutpeople.(RogerDaltryintheNewYorkPost,Oct4,2003).

    Usingprimarysourcesputsthepeoplebackin;realpeople,whoactuallyatebreakfast,wenttothebathroom,hadpassionateemotions,andwerecaughtinterribledilemmas.Theirownwordsabouttheirownliveswilloftenseizeastudentsattention.Andbyusingeyewitnessaccountsthatcomefromthestudentsowncityorcounty,orthatwerecreatedbysomeoneintheirownethnicgroup,orwerewrittenbyapersonoftheirowngenderandage,teacherscanquicklyengagestudentswiththeirpast.Thisopensthedoortohelpingthemlearntothinkcritically.

    NoteenagercaresaboutnamesanddatesfromtheCivilWar.Butgivehimorheramanuscriptletterwrittenbyan18yearoldfromthenexttownthatdescribeshislifeinaConfederateprison,andtheirinterestwillpickup.ShowthemtheironcollarthataWisconsinsoldierremovedfromanescapingslaveandletthemreadwhattheslavesaidaboutwhereitcamefrom,andtheirintelligence,imagination,andfeelingswillallshiftintogear.ManywilldisplayareactionliketheveryfirstwegottoourAmericanJourneysdigitalcollection,fromastudentinFlorida:Thisissoooocool!Thanks!

    CausingtheseemotionalreactionsisoneofthegoalsoftheWisconsinHistoricalSocietysdigitizationprogram.WhenastudentexperiencesthatWow!orAha!moment,theycanbeinspiredtoanalyze,evaluate,andthinkcriticallyskillsthatenrichthemforanentirelifetime.Aseducators,weveencouragedkidsforyearstomakesmartchoiceswithoutalwaysteachingthemtheskillstodoit.Bymiddleandhighschool,theyreabletolearntheelementsofcriticalthinking;usinghistoricaldocumentsthatengagetheirheartsaswellastheirheadsisaperfectmethodforteachingthem.

    Allthematerialshereeverypageofthehandbook,andeachofthe50essaysand900documentsontheTurningPointsWebsitemaybefreelycopied,downloaded,andreproducedfornonprofiteducationalusesuchasclassroomhandouts,homeworkassignments,andPowerPointpresentationstoteachersandstudents.Theymaynot,however,becopiedandresoldforcommercialpurposeswithoutpriorpermissionfromtheWisconsinHistoricalSociety,816StateSt.,Madison,WI53706.

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    PartII

    TheElementsofCriticalThinkingCriticalthinking:thementalprocessofactivelyandskillfully

    conceptualizing,applying,analyzing,synthesizing,andevaluating

    information toreachananswerorconclusion*

    10ElementsofCriticalThinking

    1.TheFiveWs p.72.IdentifyingCentralPropositions p.83.IdentifyingUnderlyingAssumptions p.94.IdentifyingPointofView p.115.EvaluatingReasoning p.13 10commonerrors p.146.EvaluatingInferences p.177.EvaluatingEvidence p.188.AssessingCompleteness p.209.ImaginingImplications p.2110.TakingaStand p.22

    *WebstersNewMillenniumDictionaryofEnglishviadictionary.com

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    STEPONE:TheFiveWs

    Thefivethingsthatanewreporterlearnstocoverineveryarticlearealsothethingsyouneedtoconsiderasyoulookatatextorapicture.Beforeyoustartlookingatitclosely,glanceoverthedocumentandtrytoanswerthesequestions.Youmaynotbeabletoanswerallfiveofthematfirst.

    1.Whocreatedit?Whositcreatedfor?Inmosttexts,anauthorsnameappearsnearthetop;sometimes,aswithletters,itwillbeatthebottominstead.Onpictures,thecreatorsnamemayappearinabottomcorner,inacaptionoutsidetheimage,ornowhereatall.Theaudienceusuallyhastobeinferredfromthedocumentscontent.Beforereadingclosely,justbrowsetheitemtoanswerquestionssuchas,wasthisaprivatecommunicationorapublishedone?Isitaimedatyoungpeopleoradults?Menorwomen?Thegeneralpublicorspecialists?Anyspecificethnic,cultural,orlanguagegroup?Anyspecificprofessionalgroup(suchasscientists,lawyers,orlegislators)?Peopleinanyspecificplace?

    2.Whatkindofdocumentisit?Publishedbook?Speech?Privatediary?Letter?Magazinearticle?Photograph?Map?Pamphlet?Advertisement?Politicalhandoutorflyer?Unpublishedmeetingminutes?Legalbrief?Scientificreport?Poster?

    3.Wherewasitmade,andwherewasitsupposedtobedistributed?Publishedworkswillusuallyhaveatitlepage,masthead,orbyline;letterswillusuallyhaveareturnaddress.

    4.Whenwasitmade?Doyouknowaboutanythingelsegoingonatthetime?Publishedworkswillusuallyhaveacleardatesomewherenearthebeginning;letterswillusuallybedatedatthetop.

    5.Whywasitmade?Whatdoyoususpectitscreatorwastryingtoaccomplish?Simplyinformasinglereader?Changepublicopinion?Persuadeinfluentialdecisionmakers?Createalastinghistoricalrecordforposterity?Winacontestsuchasacourtcaseorelection?Educateaparticularaudienceaboutnewfacts?

    Knowingthesethingsaboutthedocumentinadvancehelpsyouunderstandwhatitsaysandtobegintoreachconclusionsaboutitsaccuracy,completeness,biases,andpointofview.

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    STEPTWO:WhatsTheMainPoint(orPoints)?

    Peoplewritebecausetheyhavesomethingtosayandmakepicturesbecausetheyhavesomethingtoshow.Butthemainpointsofadocumentarenotalwayseasytospot.AfteraddressingtheFiveWs,examinethedocumentthisway:Texts

    1.Lookatthebeginning.Themainpointmaybeplainlystated,ortheauthormayposeaquestionheorsheintendstoanswer.

    2.Lookattheend.Theremaybeashortconclusionwheretheauthorsumseverythingup.

    3.Lookatthemiddle.Paragraphsmayopenwithatopicsentenceorendwithaconclusionreached.Chaptersmayhaveentireparagraphsthatdothis.

    4.Lookforwordsthatargue:should,must,ought,necessarily,surely.

    5.Lookforwordsthatexpresscausationorconclusion:because,andso,consequently,therefore,inshort,insum,thus,hence,asaresult,inthatcase,forthatreason,then,accordingly.

    6.Lookforwordsthatexpresspriorities:essential,important,crucial,fundamental,basic.Pictures

    1.Whatsthelargestobject?

    2.Whatdidthecreatorputdeadcenterinthemiddle?

    3.Whatspushedofftotheedgesorintothebackground?

    4.Payattentiontothewayyoureyewandersfromoneobjecttothenext.Doesthissequencemakeapointortellastory?

    5,Payattentiontoyourfeelingsasyoureyewandersaround.Whatobjectsinthepicturescausethemostpowerfulreactioninyou?Whenyouredone,completethesestatements:

    1.Themainthingtheauthororartististryingtosayorshowisthat...

    2.Twolessim