completed diorama

Dioramas in the Classroom—Fun and Effective Project Based Learning

In the digital world of the 21st century, are dioramas an effective teaching tool? Some educators want teachers to abandon sugar cubes and shoe boxes for more high tech activities, insisting dioramas do not require students to engage in complex problem solving and critical thinking. However, there is no reason to dump the diorama. With a well-structured lesson, building a diorama requires students to analyze primary sources, deeply understand content, support a thesis, and solve engineering challenges to build a structure that incorporates key elements of design. Dioramas are sophisticated stuff.

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Trivial Pursuit board game

Why History Matters: A Teacher’s Rationale

When I was working on my undergraduate degree in the early 1980’s, a boyfriend questioned my choice of major. “Why does history matter anyway? What’s a history degree going to get you besides winning at Trivial Pursuit?”

Although I relished beating this guy every time we played the board game, my pursuit of the past had loftier aims. For 26 years I taught history to high school students. Now I write history books for children and teens. You see, I knew all along what my boyfriend didn’t. Understanding history isn’t trivial. It’s vital.

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picture of yellow fever victim

New Narrative Nonfiction for Middle Grade Readers

Watch out! More Mayhem & Mystery is heading your way.

These true narrative nonfiction history books feature gore, greed, tragedy, and courage guaranteed to grab the interest of readers aged 9 to 12. Release Date: February 1, 2018 Read more

Through Their Eyes—Letters from Soldiers in the Civil War

Glimpse war through the eyes of soldiers.

Soldiers’ letters offer students an intimate view of the impact of war. In this lesson, students analyze letters written by soldiers during the Civil War.

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Teach Students how to Analyze Sources and Give Them a Peek inside their Teacher’s Soul

In a previous post, I discussed how history is a verb, not a noun. What does “doing history” look like in a classroom? Here is a fun activity teachers can use to introduce students to the skill of analyzing primary sources.

Historians dissect primary sources such as letters, diaries, court documents, or song lyrics in their quest to interpret the past. They systematically examine each component of the source in order to make sense of the whole. Read more

Doing History

Is history a noun or a verb? How a teacher answers this question can be seen in what goes on in his or her classroom.  If you want to develop the minds of youth who are capable of thinking critically about the relationship between the past and the present, then don’t teach history to students. Instead teach students to do history.  Read more