Borrowing from principles articulated by Sam Wineburg and Lendol Calder, this site attempts to demystify the process of historical thinking skills by making their practice plainly visible to students. Knowing that younger students may have an easier time with object rather than textual analysis, this site seeks to help students engage with the materials of history. The driving question for the each of the projects on this website is rooted in one of Stéphane Lévesque’s five essential questions about practicing history: “How do we make sense of the raw materials of the past?” (37). For students, they need to see that this “making sense” of history is an intentional act that requires asking questions and seeking out answers.
Using the vast collections of digitized resources available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licenses from museums around the world, I am building a series of “history mystery” projects where students actually use the raw materials of the past (coins, paintings, architecture, jewelry, sculpture, enamelware, pashka molds, etc.) to uncover or to understand history. My first project is centered around the Vale of York hoard.
The raw materials for each mystery will be housed in an Omeka archive for students to explore through a series of guided activities. Borrowing on elements of Project Based Learning, each exploration will have an authentic context. And, many projects will employ Maker technology or other digital tools to bring historical practice into the 21st century. It will also serve as vehicle for discussing the liberties and limits of digital technology in history. While one can take in so much of the world through digitized images or computer generated replicas, nothing can ever really replace the artifact itself.
The digital environment gives each of us access to materials and multiple tools for students to engage with the historical narrative on tactile, digital, and spatial levels. This site seeks to capitalize on on those resources by making quality lessons in historical thinking skills available to teachers and students across the world.
Calder, Lendol. “Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey,” The Journal of American History, volume 92, no. 4 (March 2006), pp. 1358-1369.
Kelly, Mills. “The History Curriculum in 2023.” edwired (blog). January 2013.
Lévesque, Stéphane. Thinking Historically. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.
Wineburg, Sam. “Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts.” The Phi Delta Kappan 80, no. 7. March 1999. p. 488-499.