Dates, Dates, Dates

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Brendan, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Oct 19, 2011

    It's been the common trend in most history courses for students not to need know dates, much different from the way many of us were taught. I generally do this, but I am beginning to look into new avenues. I am starting to see that my students have no real idea of chronology and for those of them looking to pursue degrees in history, some dates do matter and chronology and approximate dates can be very helpful. So my question to the history teachers out there is: do you have students remember dates? If so, how do you test them on these dates?
     
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  3. BookButterfly

    BookButterfly Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2011

    My S/O teaches history, and this is his take on it.

    Students need to know dates as far as they need to know which events came first, second, third, etc. For example, he cares that they know that the Revolutionary War came before the Civil War, that the Holocaust happened after WWI, etc. But no, I don't believe he grades them on whether or not they know the EXACT dates of events.

    From my recollection of high school, I didn't have a chance at having a true concept of time until well into my college career; I was simply not mentally ready or developed enough to do so. Some students may be, though.. hm.

    Maybe you could test them using a timeline. Make sure they know that they need to get the order of the events correct and have a ball-park date range; remembering the 20's, 30's, and 40's is easier for me than remembering EXACTLY the dates of WWII. That's what got me through the History of the English Language course in college.

    Just a thought! Take it or leave it. =)
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2011

    I think this is a really great way of doing things. I'd also throw in there that students should be able to connect important events, people, and ideas with other events from the same time period.

    I, too, have discovered that our students have very little understanding of timelines. If I gave them "Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, King Arthur, Hitler" and told them to put those people in chronological order, I'm not sure that they'd be able to do it.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oct 19, 2011

    If it's any consolation, adults have similar issues. (Come to think of it, it isn't.) I tell people they need to know dates to the nearest quarter-century and they need to be able to understand the flow of the story - what leads to a given event or movement and what follows from it.
     
  6. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Oct 19, 2011

    I play a ball game with my APs to reinforce dates.

    The "ball" is actually one of those koosh balls, so it's quite soft. I start with "1607, establishment of Jamestown." I then toss it to someone. S/he must move the date forward by any amount. So s/he might say, "1619, first slaves arrive in Jamestown."

    When we start this game, it goes very fast. Students insist they know no dates and they go from 1776 to 1995 (their birth year) or 9/11 right away.

    But if you give a little bit of credit, they start learning one or two dates. They then remember the date a friend said, or an enemy, or that girl they like.

    So before you know it, the game slows way, way down and you've got students naming all kinds of dates - even correcting one another.

    It's a technique I used to study for my written exams in graduate school. It worked for me and my study group and it worked last year for my students. Plus, they like to toss the ball and giggle at people's dates. One student always used 1969 (Woodstock!), while another liked to name the dates of rap song releases. It's all good because on the whole you get ten to twenty dates pretty well memorized for each person.
     
  7. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Oct 19, 2011

    I focus on some key dates, and then a general chronology for the rest. For AP Euro (or even World History really), I want critical ones, like 1066, 1215, 1453, 1492, 1776, 1789, etc, etc. So I guess I do require dates... not loads of them, but enough to get a general chronology. If an AP Euro student cannot tell me the importance of 1789, we have a problem.
     
  8. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Oct 20, 2011

    same with my AP kids

    I have a "game" my AP kids play to enforce the importance of chronology. I made on card stock and lamanted 40 cards about the size of business cards. On each card is an important event, movement, ect . . . . students then have to organize the cards into chronological order. As we get to the end of the year, not only do they have to get the order right, but then they need to write a sentence about the importance of each card/event. As we get closer to the exam, I time them and award bonus points for the fastest, best sentences, most anayltical sentences, ect . . . .

    Funny that I just saw this thread because my AP Euro students did this for the first time yesterday. Of the 40 cards we had only studied about 18 of them (up to the Enlightenment) so they do get frustrated but still got the importance of "seeing" the events in a time line.
     
  9. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    Oct 20, 2011


    I do the same as Ron. For AP Euro, I also include these dates in my timeline:
    1517 - 95 Theses
    1555 - Peace of Augsburg
    1588 - Spanish Armada
    1648 - Peace of Westphalia

    Can you tell that I am just finishing up teaching the age of Reformation and religious wars?!
     
  10. bondo

    bondo Cohort

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    Oct 24, 2011

    KatherineParr - I love that idea. It helps them learn in a completely different way, and sometimes they probably don't even realize it! Thanks for sharing.

    I had a professor in college who was a stickler for dates. However, his big idea was the connectednesss and interelation of events in history. So, he always had to memorize dates so we could make connections between different areas of study. Since we cant have a wholistic approach to history, knowing dates helped us make connections between sections we studied. I don't know if this would work at the middle or high school level though. Some major dates should definitely be learned, in particular as they relate to the development of Western Civilization.
     
  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 29, 2011

    I've tried dates and found it pointless. When I have to teach 8 different cultures over the course of the year with most of the events in them happening simultaneously it just isn't worth it. Middle school brains can't comprehend that something we talked about in December actually occured 2,000 years after something we talk about in March.

    I'll still mention the dates and they do go in the notes but I don't ask for them on tests.
     

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