Reading Response: Zarrillo, Chapter 10


Zarrillo, in chapter 10, discusses the role of history under the social studies umbrella. He briefly introduces the controversy surrounding the ability of young children to understand and comprehend history and follows that up with research supporting both sides of the argument, that children should not be taught historical concepts until at least grade six, and that children have an unexpected ability to understand and comprehend history as young as kindergarten and first grade. With that as his foundation, Zarrillo outlines the national history standards and lists the main concepts and skills that should be covered throughout an elementary social studies curriculum that includes history. Zarrillo closes the chapter by talking about different teaching strategies, methods, and practices.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

Lists!! Zarrillo uses lists quite often in this chapter and they have been extremely beneficial in helping me remember the information he is trying to convey. For example, his list on the eight history content standards for a K-4 classroom really helps me see the big picture, which allows me to be more effective in my planning. He also lists the processes and skills students should be able to achieve at the end of elementary school. This also contributes to more effective planning in the future. He provides a list for effective teaching methods – also extremely helpful! His list that goes through a teaching sequence for when using a primary source. He gives a list for how to evaluate whether a text is good for using in a history lesson, and his final list is about how to effectively use timelines in the classroom. So many lists! And they are all so wonderful!!

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

On page 258, the third bullet point down, Zarrillo talks about using a variety of lesson plans and teaching sequences. I understand that in determining the way we are going to assess and ultimately teach, we need to determine the importance of what we are teaching. I also realize that different content areas require different teaching sequences/methods (reading and literacy should be directly modeled whereas science and social studies can be more “relaxed” and discovery-based). How then do I bring in multiple kinds of teaching styles within social studies and history? In regards to social studies, is there ever anything I will need to directly model or can it be mostly discovery based?


Playing off of my “thoughtful and authentic question,” I guess I assumed that social studies should always be discovery/inquiry based as it allows for deep learning about a subject that most students assume to be dry and monotonous.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods

Class Notes

  • Differentiated Instruction Revisited
    • What teachers prepare:
      • Content
        • Knowledge, concepts, skills
        • Delivery formats:
          • Video, reading, lectures, audio
      • Process (formative assessment)
        • How students make sense
        • Options:
          • TPS (think, pair, share)
          • Journal
          • Partner Talk
          • Act it out
      • Product/Learning Artifacts (summative assessment)
        • Choice of format for showing what was learned
    • How students engage
      • Readiness
        • Current skill level – reading, thinking
        • Current knowledge level
        • Current ability to grasp the concept
      • Interests
        • Choices
        • Background of students – experience
      • Learning Profile
        • Brain Intelligences
        • Preferred learning style

Does it make sense?

  • It’s sinking in a little bit more, but I’m still struggling (but less than before!)
  • I’m still struggling with the “process” part of things, but knowing that it’s the formative part of the lesson as opposed to the summative helps a lot.
  • I’m also struggling with the “readiness” part – I understand it as a separate concept, but I get confused when putting it with content, process, and product/learning artifacts.
  • This is a LOT of work!!

Teaching History

  • Sticky History
  • What is thinking?
    • Some Possibilities:
      • Observing closely and describing what’s there
      • Building explanations and interpretations
      • Reasoning with evidence
      • Making connections
      • Considering different viewpoints and perspectives
      • Capturing the heart and forming conclusions
      • Wondering and asking questions
      • Uncovering complexity and going below the surface of things
      • Identifying patterns and making generalizations
      • Generating possibilities and alternatives
      • Evaluating evidence, arguments, and actions
      • Formulating plans and monitoring actions
      • Identifying claims, assumptions, and bias
      • Clarifying priorities, conditions and what is known
    • What is historical thinking?
      • Perspectives
      • Past/present/future
      • 5Ws
      • cause/effect
      • influence
      • countries/cultures
      • relationships
      • patterns
    • What do historians do?
    • Why study history?
      • Learn from the mistakes of the past
      • Understand people & societies
      • Understand change
      • Learn important skills
      • Remedy for selfishness
      • God citizenship
      • Provides identity
      • People in history provide lessons in courage, diligence, achievement
      • Distinguish the educated from the uneducated

Historical Thinking

  • Chronological Thinking
    • Distinguish between past, present, and future time
    • Identify the temporal structure of a story or historical narrative
    • Establish temporal order in their own narratives
    • Measure and calculate calendar time
    • Interpret data presented in time lines (create time lines)
    • Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration (continuity and change)
    • Compare alternative models of periodization (eras)
    • Strategies to use:
      • Ordering without talking – great!!!
        • Kinesthetic
    • Additional Ideas:
      • Visual/real-life timeline
      • Interview grandparents – create a biography
      • Timelines-math lessons
  • Historical Comprehension
    • Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative and assess its credibility
    • Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage
    • Identify the central question(s) the historical narrative addresses
    • Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations
    • Read historical narratives imaginatively
    • Appreciate historical perspectives
    • Draw upon data in historical maps
    • Utilize visual, mathematical, and qualitative data
      • Role Playing
      • Performance Tasks
      • Fish Bowl
      • Talk Show
      • Human Statues
      • Debates
      • Readers Theater
      • Simulations
      • Tips:
        • Data Sheets speed things up
        • Rubrics for the different stages
    • Strategies to use:
      • Vocabulary!
      • Comparing perspectives
      • Human statues
    • Additional Ideas:
      • Game based learning
      • Data sheets to speed things up
      • Rubrics for different stages
  • Historical Analysis and Interpretation
    • Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas
    • Consider multiple perspectives
    • Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues
    • Distinguish between unsupported expressions of opinion and informed hypotheses grounded in historical evidence
    • Compare competing historical narratives
    • Hold interpretations of history as tentative
    • Hypothesize the influence of the past
    • Strategies to use:
      • Cause and Effect
        • Graphic Organizers
        • Key words:
          • Cause
            • Why did this happen?
            • What was the cause?
            • Because…
            • In the past…
          • Effect
            • So…
            • Then…
            • Because…
  • Historical Research Capabilities
    • Formulate historical questions
    • Obtain historical data from a variety of sources
    • Interrogate historical data
    • Contextual knowledge of the time and place
    • Employ quantitative analysis
    • Support interpretations with historical evidence
  • Historical Issues – Analysis and Decision-Making
    • Identify the issue or problem in the past
    • Look at the factors that created the problem (antecedents)
    • Look at similar problems from the past
    • Evaluate alternative courses of action
    • Formulate a position or course of action on an issue
    • Evaluate the implementation of a decision
  • Essential Questions
    • Who are we?
    • Where are we?
    • How do historians think?
    • What has gone wrong?
    • What must we do?
      • Walking with the Poor – Myers


What new information did you learn?

Learning the distinctions between the “categories” of history (historical comprehension, historical research abilities, historical issues, etc.) was extremely helpful. Knowing this gives me a better idea for what to target in my teaching and how to target it.

I also really appreciated the different teaching strategies – the 12 offenses worksheet is a great resource, although I think I will have a hard time adapting that to other topics. I also really like the human statue activity. I think that’s a very good way to get students involved in a short amount of time.

How has the material/experience affected you?

In regards to DI, I’m feeling quite a bit better about the concept in general. It will still require quite a bit of practice for me to feel comfortable or at ease with being intentional about it. I’m sure there are ways I’ve incorporated this into my lessons before since I’m all about always teaching to each student, but there’s a difference between being intentional about it and doing it “on accident” because it seems to be convenient for a specific lesson.

In regards to history instruction, I’ve become more focused in the way I think about history instruction. Breaking it down into categories is extremely helpful for me. It helps me know better how to assess history and how to effectively teach it. The categories help me identify just how important historical details and concepts are and how to prioritize them to maximize student learning.

Has it challenged your thinking?

In regards to DI, I’m challenged to continue to dig deeper into the concept so as to be more intentional with it. I’m actually taking a 1 credit independent study focused on differential instruction next semester and I’m extremely excited to dig deeper!         Do you have any suggestions for specific topics of study within DI? Are there any specific avenues I should go down?

This has absolutely challenged my thinking! I want to explore the historical categories more to see the potential they can have in my classroom and planning even though I’m not sure yet what that looks like.

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods


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