Students learn through the lenses of a historian in a new innovative program called Reading Like A Historian. Seventy-five free secondary school lessons in U.S. History have adopted it.
The wealth of knowledge deepens through this method as students think like historians and strengthen their reading comprehension.
“It completely changed the way I teach history, and my students are getting so much more out of it,” said Terri Camajani, who teaches U.S. history and government at Washington High School in San Francisco. “They get really into it. And their reading level just jumps; you can see it in their writing,” she said.
The Reading Like A Historian curriculum utilizes primary-source documents and uses textbooks as a supplementary aid. Each lesson begins with a question and students then have to dig into letters, speeches, articles and other documents to better comprehend events and develop their own analysis from what they read.
Teachers trained in the approach focus heavily on four key skills: “sourcing,” to gauge how authors’ viewpoints and reasons for writing affect their accounts of events; “contextualization,” to get a full picture of what was happening at the time; “corroboration,” to help students sort out contradictory anecdotes and facts; and “close reading,” to help them absorb text slowly and deeply, parsing words and sentences for meaning.