Teaching History is so full of useful resources that it can seem overwhelming. The website is divided into three main sections: Teaching Materials, History Content, and Best Practices. You’ll find quality lesson plans reviewed by other teachers in Teaching Materials. History Content is where you’ll find engaging resources to deepen your own content knowledge. In Best Practices, you can learn how to teach historical thinking and turn your students into historians.
Probably the most useful place for adult education teachers to begin is the Teaching Materials section. Lesson plans can be downloaded and include reviews by other teachers. Virtually all lessons are built around primary sources.
I chose the lesson plans below because they didn’t need much adaptation to be used with my HSE students. They also provide useful models of teaching history:
• Jamestown, the Starving Time from the Historical Scene Investigation website. This website presents history learning as a series of mysteries to be solved. Students read a number of primary source extracts as well as analysis by forensic scientists to try to determine what really happened in Jamestown during the “starving time.”
• Propaganda and World War II from the American Social History Project website. In this lesson, students work in groups and are assigned to look at the war propaganda of one particular country, then report out on their findings.
• Differing Versions of the First Thanksgiving from The Learning Network website (New York Times) Students read textbook excerpts about the First Thanksgiving as well as listening to a Rush Limbaugh version and a version from a Native American perspective, considering how the story is interpreted differently based on political viewpoint.
• The Triangle Fire: From Industrialism to Progressivism. This lesson provides pre-reading, reading and post-reading activities to help students consider the issues raised by the Triangle Fire.
Also under Teaching Materials are a series of teaching guides, which can be used with most historical materials pertaining to any era. Teaching Guides are one to two page step by step guides that help teachers introduce best practices in teaching history. Some examples include:
- Teaching with Timelines
- Writing to Learn History: Annotation and Mini-Writes
- Interpreting Political Cartoons in the History Classroom
Teaching Materials also has resources for Teaching English Language Learners with many useful activities for scaffolding content-based lessons for English Language Learners.
Teaching History is useful for building teacher background knowledge both on content and pedagogy. There are useful lesson plans from a variety of history-based websites that focus on primary sources. Most texts and lessons are appropriate for the HSE level. Some lesson plans can be used as they are; others will need to be adapted. Because the site can be overwhelming, I recommend checking out some of the lesson plans and teaching guides listed above to see if it constitutes what you are looking for. Try these resources and please share your experience below.