Teaching History in High School

Course Introduction

In this course, you will develop skills, knowledge, and strategies for effective teaching in secondary social studies.  We will be discussing the philosophies behind social studies education, as well as the controversies surrounding it, which will equip you with a critical perspective that will benefit your teaching career.  In this class, we will learn and discuss research related to various teaching strategies so that you can better evaluate various best practices on the basis of their pedagogy and their effectiveness in achieving student learning.  Then we will apply our findings in model lessons to the rest of the class.  In order to do well in this course, you will need a foundation in educational theory.

Student-Learning Objectives

  • Students will know:
    • Content related to state and national social studies curriculums, philosophical debates regarding the teaching of history in public schools, and best practices used to deliver history instruction.
  • Students will understand:
    • That effective social studies teaching requires disciplinary knowledge and pedagogical knowledge, that designing effective secondary instruction takes time and practice, and that teaching history must take into account both diverse learners and multicultural learners.
  • Students will be able to:
    • Engage in critical analysis of teaching strategies, philosophies, assessments, instructional materials, and curriculum standards.
    • Develop lesson plans that address curriculum standards and are based on best practices according to educational research.

Required Texts to Purchase or Rent

  • Candy Beal and Cheryl Mason Bolick, Teaching Social Studies in Middle and Secondary Schools, 6th edition. Boston: Pearson, 2013.
  • Diane Ravitch and Joseph Viteritti, Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society


  • 30% Participation/blog discussions
  • 70% Teaching Portfolio

Participation and Attendance

  • This class is built around discussions. You are required to attend class and participate in discussions.  Part of this discussion will take place on the course blog, where you will, working in small groups, post 200-300-word reflections on the readings for the week.  Each group’s leader will post a reflection first, and other group members will respond.

History Teaching Portfolio (70 points possible)– In lieu of exams, you will submit a teaching portfolio.  If you put enough thought into it, you will be able to draw on this resource during your initial years as a teacher.  NOTE: Some of these assignments will be due earlier than the final exam date. Your portfolio must include:

  • Position Paper (10 points)– A 1,000-word paper addressing the question: Why is a social studies education important? Be sure to use the assigned sources to determine which camp you agree with and why.
  • Pedagogy Journal (10 points)– as your classmates deliver their lessons, you will maintain a handwritten journal in which you take notes on the lesson. What works in the lesson? What doesn’t? How can it be tweaked? Would you use it?
  • At least 15 good history jokes (5 points)– They are always a hit in the classroom, even if the students are laughing at you instead of with you.
  • Revised Lesson plan (25 points)– more details below.
  • Unit plan (20)– to include
    • At least five learning objectives that align with at least four U.S. or world history standards in the Georgia Performance Standards.
    • At least four 5-point lesson plan outlines organized around a central theme, including your revised lesson plan that you modeled for the class.
    • Summative assessment – design a short exam or other form of assessment that aligns with your learning objects.

Lesson Plan – Working in groups of two or three, you will design a lesson that utilizes one of the best practices we have discussed covering any topic in U.S. or world history, and you will deliver that lesson to the class on an assigned day.  Designing an effective lesson takes time and work, so you will discuss your strategy with me before working on it.

  • You will turn in the following components:
    • Write a 500-word justification for why you are using the strategy you chose. This justification must draw on existing scholarship into the effectiveness of such methodology.  You must cite at least one scholarly article.
    • You will also submit a rough draft of your 5-point lesson plan to me at least two weeks before your lesson.
    • You must prepare a handout of your lesson outline for every other student.
    • After you deliver your lesson, each group member needs to submit a 500-word paper reflecting on the lesson. What went well? What didn’t work? How would you tweak your lesson for next time?
  • Your lesson must:
    • Cover a 75 minute class
    • Clearly address at least one element of either the U.S. History or the World History Georgia Performance Standards AND one element of the History/Social Studies strand of the English Language Arts Common Core Curriculum Standards.
    • Contain at least five points: Learning objectives, standards, focus and review, teacher input, Guided Practice, Independent Practice.
    • Utilize one of the best practices we have discussed in class.

Some Optional Reading

  • Blumenfeld, Phyllis and Krajcik, Joseph. “Project-Based Learning,” Ch. 19 in The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Brookfield, Stephen and Preskill, Stephen. Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999.
  • Duthie, James. A Handbook for History Teachers. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2012.
  • Dynneson, Thomas and Gross, Richard. Designing Effective Instruction for Secondary Social Studies. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill, 1999.
  • Journell, Wayne. “Teaching Politics in the U.S. History Classroom,” History Teacher, 48, 1. November 2014.
  • Mandler, Peter; Lang, Sean; Vallance, Ted. “Debates: Narrative in School History,” Teaching History, 2011.
  • Martell, Christopher. “Teaching About Race in a Multicultural Setting: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and the U.S. History Classroom,” Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, PA, April 3-7, 2014. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED545385.pdf.
  • Musselman, Elizabeth Green. “Using Structured Debate to Achieve Autonomous Student Discussion,” The History Teacher, 37, 3. May 2004.
  • Ross, Wayne, ed. The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001.
  • Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, Bring Learning Alive! The TCI Approach for Middle and High School Social Studies. Palo Alto: Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, 2004.
  • Woolever, Roberta and Scott, Kathryn. Active Learning in Social Studies: Promoting Cognitive and Social Growth. Glenville, IL: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1988

Course Outline

** – denotes readings that you will find on eLC (uga.view.usg.edu).  If there is a hyperlink next to the reading, you will find the reading at the link.

Date Topic Readings Assignments Due
Aug. 16 Introduction
Aug. 18


What is Social Studies and why do we teach it? –          Nash, Crabtree, and Dunn, “In the Matter of History,” Ch. 1 in History on Trial, 3-24.**

–          Lynne Cheney, “The End of History,” Wall Street Journal, 20 October 1994**


Aug. 23 Purposes of Social Studies Education – Citizenship and Democracy –          Beal and Bolick, “Perspectives on Social Studies,” in Teaching Social Studies in Middle and Secondary Schools, 1-22.

–          Ravitch and Viteritti, Making Good Citizens, 15-29, 58-95.


Blog post discussion
Aug. 25 Purposes of Social Studies Education – Cultural Pluralism –          Ravitch and Viteritti, Making Good Citizens, 187-231, 279-325.


Unguided class discussion – What should the purpose of SS ed be?
Aug. 30 Teaching History in a Multicultural Society –          Sonia Nieto, “Racism, Discrimination, and Expectations of Students’ Achievement,” in Educational Foundations, 44-63**

–          Laurel Schmidt, Social Studies that Sticks, 169-193, 215-239**

DUE: Position Paper
Sept. 1 The Social Studies Curriculum debate – National and State Standards –          Ross, “The Struggle for the Social Studies Curriculum,” in The Social Studies Curriculum, 19-41.

–          Whelan, “Why the Study of History Should be the Core of Social Studies Education,” in The Social Studies Curriculum**

Sept. 6 The Social Studies Curriculum – National and State Standards –          State Standards, National History Education Clearinghouse,  http://teachinghistory.org/teaching-materials/state-standards

–          Common Core National Standards, http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RH/11-12/


Blog post discussion due
Sept. 8 Teaching History in a High-Stakes Testing World –          Hover and Heinecke, “The Impact of Accountability Reform on the ‘Wise Practice’ of Secondary History Teachers,” in Wise Social Studies Teaching in an Age of High-Stakes Testing, 89-115.** Unguided discussion: Are standardized tests a good thing for the SS?
Sept. 13 How to Assess Student Learning –          Beal and Bolick, “Evaluating and Assessing Student Learning,” in Teaching Social Studies in Middle and Secondary Schools, 207-225.

–          James A. Duffie, A Handbook for History Teachers, 213-254.**

Sept. 15 Designing a History Course – balancing depth and breadth –          Beal and Bolick, “Organizing and Planning for Teaching Social Studies,” Teaching SS in Middle and Secondary Schools, 68-88. Blog post discussion
Sept. 20 The Lecture – relevance and effectiveness in the 21st Century classroom –          Silver and Perini, The Interactive Lecture: How to Engage Students, Build Memory, and Deepen Comprehension [excerpt].**

–          James A. Duthie, “Helping Students Acquire Data—Lecture and Audiovisual Lecture,” A Handbook for History Teachers, 58-75.**

Sept. 22 Discussion-based Learning –          Brookfield and Preskill, Discussion as a Way of Teaching, 22-54.** Blog post discussion
Sept. 27 Analyzing Primary Sources –          Laurel Schmidt, Social Studies that Sticks: How to Bring Content and Concepts to Life, 42-106.**
Sept. 29 Collaborative Learning –          Beal and Bolick, “Engaging Students through Collaborative Learning,” Teaching Social Studies in Middle and Secondary Schools, 107-130. Blog post discussion
Oct. 4 role playing and debates –          Mark C. Carnes, “Plato’s War on Play,” Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 14, 2014.  http://www.chronicle.com/article/Platos-War-on-Play/148987/

–          Musselman, “Using Structured Debate to Achieve Autonomous Student Discussion,” The History Teacher, May 2004.**

Oct. 6 Project-Based Learning –          Blumenfeld et al, “Motivating Project-Based Learning: Sustaining the Doing, Supporting the Learning,” Educational Psychologist, 369-398.**
Oct. 11 Teaching with films –          Alan S. Marcus et al, Teaching History with Film, 1-38.** DUE: Topic of Lesson and Strategy
Oct. 13


Technology in the Classroom –          Beal and Bolick, “Using Technology to Enhance Social Studies Instruction,” in Teaching Social Studies in Middle and Secondary Schools, 193-206.
Oct. 18 The Flipped Classroom –          Kathleen Fulton, “Upside Down and Inside Out: Flip Your Classroom to Improve Student Learning,” Learning & Leading with Technology, Jun-Jul 2012.** Blog post discussion
Oct. 20 Utilizing the Field Trip Field Trip to the T.R.R. Cobb House
Oct. 25 Modeling Best Practices
Oct. 27 Modeling Best Practices
Nov. 1 Modeling Best Practices
Nov. 3 Modeling Best Practices
Nov. 8 Modeling Best Practices
Nov. 10 Modeling Best Practices
Nov. 15 Modeling Best Practices
Nov. 17 Modeling Best Practices
Nov. 22-24 Thanksgiving Break – NO CLASS
Nov. 29 Modeling Best Practices
Dec. 1