How do you get kids to care about historical literature?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by katbecky, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. katbecky

    katbecky New Member

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    Apr 29, 2009

    Hi, I am a student at the University of Arizona and I am doing a project for my introduction to children's literature class. I would really appreciate any insights you could give me! I have a question:

    How do you get your students to care about historical literature? Or history in general? Are there any special projects that you have done, or tips and tricks you might have to get kids involved with this topic?

    Thanks for any information you can provide, I can't wait to get into the classroom!
     
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  3. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    Apr 29, 2009

    I love history! 4th Grade in California is all about our state history, so it's a huge part of my curriculum. I approach it as a story, full of all sorts of people who have done some very great things and some equally awful things.

    We read very little in the text book, just enough to set the stage. I tell them lots of stories. We have projects for each of the different units; for example, we just finished our Rancho unit where they had to create a petition and a diseno of a land grant and present their application to the governor for approval.
    We will start on the pioneer unit Monday where they will be walking a mile every afternoon to move their wagon along the California-Oregon Trail map we have in the classroom. I dress up like a pioneer woman and introduce the book Patty Reed's Doll to them.
     
  4. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Apr 29, 2009

    I think the biggest thing for me is emphasizing how much history can teach us about decisions to make, and whenever possible, relate it to the present.

    For example, in covering the late 1800s and early 1900s progressivism movement, we discussed the social problems in that time period vs. the social problems to today. We compared Michael Moore to Upton Sinclair and Jacob Riis.

    In discussing the Southern secession prior to the Civil War, I related the recent discussion in Texas about seceding from the Union- how can we tie in past events to the present?

    High school students have to understand that history is cool, it's fascinating, but most importantly it MATTERS. Then they usually will go along with what I'm trying to teach them.
     
  5. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Apr 29, 2009

    My kids enjoy history. I've used a lot of photographs, visualization, simulations, and odd trivia to keep them going.

    It's important to pick out well-written historical novels and approach like you would any other good novel. Just add in "What do you know is happening historically during the time frame of this novel?" "How is that affecting the decisions and the events that are happening in the book?"
     
  6. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Apr 29, 2009

    I think one of the best books to start with would by A Think my Brother Sam is Dead This book is about the Revolutionary War and how the war divided families. It is a really good book and you can really get into the idea of history having a point of view. IMO establishing that history has a point of view is what really opens the eyes of most students.
     
  7. katbecky

    katbecky New Member

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    May 3, 2009

    Wow, Thanks for all of the great insights! It is great to have "real teacher" input.
     
  8. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    May 3, 2009

    If you use historical fiction with children as the main characters, students tend to be interested. When we compare how different their lives are to those of children in the past, they are often astonished. I love using the book Dear Levi, Letters From the Overland Trail. My students are always shocked at how brutal life was then. The Dear America book series offers short video selections for many of the titles. We've enjoyed them.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    May 3, 2009

    But you also need to remember that the historical fiction genre is not for everybody.

    I don't like historical fiction or science fiction or fantasy. Never have. Sure, I read it when I had to read it, but I never really enjoyed it, no matter how it was presented. I never read the genre of my own free will . . . and I have a masters degree in literature and teach English.
     
  10. KLSSwimmer

    KLSSwimmer Habitué

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    May 3, 2009

    I agree with all that the people from above have said. Also, another thing that I have tried is to read a passage from the middle of the story, in the most exciting part, and let that be my anticipatory set. I love to get my kiddos excited about history.
     
  11. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

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    May 7, 2009

    Keep it engaging... we do a lot of role-playing and small-group activities (especially from History Alive!). I read My Brother Sam is Dead during our American Revolution unit and am always amazed by how much my students love it. We also do a readers theater for the Boston Tea Party and I regularly show a cartoon (but very historically accurate) series called Liberty's Kids.
     
  12. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    May 8, 2009

    Kids love it when the history relates to them.

    For example, our 4th grade social studies curriculum is Texas history. One of the major battles that determined the fate of Texas, the Battle of San Jacinto, took place just a few miles from our classroom. When I explained to the kids that we are standing where a lot of history took place, they got excited about the topic!

    Now, they read as much as they can about our local and state history. I am hoping that translates to love of other historical literature later on.

    Also, bring history to life. Have the kids re-enact historical events. Include art as a medium.

    And be enthusiastic -- make it exciting. My kids love social studies because I make it exciting. We don't just read from the textbook -- sometimes it gets acted out by me!
     

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