Social Studies (history, geography)

Geographic Literacy: Manitoba Education pdf

Reading Quest - Literacy strategies for Social Studies

Dialectic Map of North America showing pronunciation patterns 

Native American culture, teaching lessons. Buffy Sainte-Marie's PhD led to the creation of the Cradle Board Project 

Best apps for teaching world history

Games to sharpen geography skills

How do you read like an historian? 

1. Reading like a Historian is found at
This curriculum guide provides questions that provoke student interest into historical inquiry.

How do you read like a geographer?  

Try the NYTimes Education page on how to teach geography

All Over the Map: 10 Ways to Teach Geography


  1. History Text According to Mr. Duncan & Miss Kapac

    To read like a historian, one must first acknowledge the author. One must be aware, when reading a historical text, that the author comes with his/her own perspectives upon the subject matter. This is determined by his/her personal biases, culture and experiences.

    As a reader of a historical text, one must be aware of personal opinions and perspectives upon entering a dialogue with a historical text. Not only will one’s previse notions determine how he/she relate and understand the text, but may in fact establish different interpretation of the same subject material.

    The importance of a historical text is dependent upon the time period in which the particular event occurred, as well as the geographical location in which it occurred. Understanding these factors is to know that different cultural influences and values have an important role in historical events, which differs across time and space.

  2. How do you read like an historian?

    "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. "
    Winston Churchill

    One of the things that a history teacher should be teaching students is how to critically read history related text. Primary documents, documents written by historians and textbooks will all have a bias and point of view that readers need to be aware of. Most students may not have learned this from everyday experience and understand how to be a critical thinker.

    To effectively read like an historian, it is important to be able to identify key information using a variety of text i.e written text, numerical data, artifacts. Every content area has to teach students how to effectively find information.

    As noted by Doug Buehl, students must be guided to bring together tex-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world knowledge to understand and appreciate why they are learning history.

    Frank O., Jacqueline F., and Kathleen O.

  3. How do you read like an historian?

    “When I read through an historian’s lens, I automatically shift my thinking in certain characteristic ways to examine what an author is saying” (Buehl, D., 2011, p. 9). The reader must be aware of potential biases throughout the written text. Reading like an historian makes the reader consistently question the author and the integrity of their work. Is the author simply addressing their own personal beliefs through their argument or is their work peer reviewed, do they have citations, are they a reputable resource, and so forth?

    All students must place themselves in the time period of the textual context in order to read like an historian. I remember reading a dairy written by a Jesuit. In order to fully read as an historian, I had to place myself in the text and time period of this written work in order to fully understand why this individual felt the way they did and how they justified their beliefs. If you cannot place yourself in the historical time period, you will be unable to understand the context of the written work.

    History is not necessarily about listing facts, but more so about how the author connects topics with why the event happened and how it affects others. We need to teach our students to read historical texts as arguments that contain a certain perspective, instead of factual statements. John Fielding argues, “The first priority in how to teach history effectively is to develop learning strategies that arouse and engage the historical imaginations of our students. How we do that is by providing them with opportunities to do and to talk about history. We need to encourage students to take on the role of an historian in a creative and critical way” (Engaging Students in Learning History, 2005, p. 1).

    By: Mrs. Savoie, Miss Thompson, and Miss Guenther

  4. What is it to read like a historian?

    When reading a text, the author needs to be taken into consideration. It should be noted that traditionally, history has been recorded by men resulting in gender-bias within the text. What is his background, in context of religion or culture? Who does he write for? What groups does he participate in? All of these factors influence how a person writes, to whom he writes, and what he writes about. All of these influence the author’s credibility; therefore, a historian needs to be able to decipher fact from fiction. Queries such as these “reflect comprehension” (Buehl, 2011), which is a key objective of teaching history.

    We live in a world that is hugely connected though media. Many of today’s classrooms are equipped with internet access, and can thus communicate with “other schools and agencies” (Manitoba Education and Training, 1996, p.10.4) Events that happen on the other side of the world are known within minutes globally. Media is considered a text. How do we read such a quickly changing landscape? Historians can take into consideration historical global events and use that foreknowledge for a deeper understanding of the possible impact and changes that will result from the current events.

    To read like a historian is to search for the underlying meaning, bias, and accuracy (Ludwig, 2003, p.2) of a series of types of texts. When reading like a historian, readers need to decipher between primary texts, such as “quotations, personal letters, commentaries, and excerpts from historical documents” (Buehl, 2011, p. 59), and secondary texts, such as textbooks. When reading like a historian, one often also has to work with non-written texts, such as artifacts, oral histories, and videos/images.

    To read like a historian is to focus on the “essential questions...themes and ideas (Buehl, 2011, p.96) of history as opposed to simple factual information, such as dates. In analysing theses essential ideas, readers can make connections between the text and their own lives (text-to-self). When readers of history grasp these essential ideas, they can “compare [their] own social and cultural experiences with those described in the text” (Ludwig, 2003, p.2).

    Ideas by: Ms. Wiens, Mrs. Levesque, & Mr. Porteous

  5. Questions: How can generic strategies be customized into disciplinary-specific literacy practices?

    Doug Buehl arguesn in his book, Developing Reader’s in Academic Disciplines, that generic literacy strategies limit student’s ability to have a deeper understanding in specific academic disciplines. Buehl notes, “Generic literacy strategies are indeed beneficial, but are insufficient for developing readers, writers, and thinkers in various disciplines” (2011, p.266). In other words, without discipline-specific literacy strategies, students are unable to understand the vocabulary and domain-specific thinking. Hence, students would be unable to become insiders in their specific disciplines.

    Michael Perri underscores the need for discipline specific strategies. He notes, “Reading a primary historical text or the dense information in a textbook or other academic book has considerable instructional value, but many students have little idea of how to approach such
    work” (Michael Perri, 2011, p.1). This is why it is important for teachers to have discipline-specific literacy strategies, so that students can achieve a deeper understanding.

    In history, if students are given generic literacy strategies or worksheets, they are not thinking like an historian because they can receive the exact literacy instructions or practices in another class, like science. Clearly, thinking like an historian and thinking like a scientist are two completely different things. This is why discipline-specific literacy strategies are imperative. One way I have customized a generic literacy strategy to become discipline-specific is by utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy is a completely different way. I altered the taxonomy questions to be history-specific. In doing this, I enabled students to become insiders in reading, writing, and thinking in history. It is our goal as educators for students to become insiders in various academic disciplines.

    By: Chelsea and Jaylyn


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