Doing History: Investigating with Children in Elementary and Middle Schools

By Linda S. Levstik ; Keith C. Barton | Go to book overview

Assessment activities should also be authentic--they should be similar to the tasks people do in their communities, in businesses, or in scholarly disciplines. This often involves preparation for an audience beyond that of the teacher. When the teacher is the only audience for a task, students have little motivation to show what they know. When children retell a story they have heard to someone who doesn't know the story, for example, their explanations are much more complete than when they know the listener has heard it as well. Similarly, when students communicate for a real audience, they perform at a much higher level than when they complete an assignment only to turn it in to the teacher; students are motivated to show what they know because of the necessity of getting their audience to understand them. This use of authentic activities highlights another characteristic of constructive evaluation--its continuity with instruction. Traditionally, teachers think of assessment as what comes after instruction: You teach students about something (or they read about it on their own) and then you test them to see if they learned it. In most classrooms, it's easy to tell the difference between teaching and assessment. In fact, schools often go to great lengths to make the two situations as different as possible: When students are being tested, they don't talk, they don't move around, they don't work together, they don't get help from the teacher. But in the kinds of classrooms described in this book, there is no such split between instruction and assessment. An observer walking into one of these classes would not be able to tell whether it was a "teaching" day or a "testing" day, because they're one and the same thing. Teachers take notes while students are talking, observe their presentations, review their projects, and read their written reports; all these are part of the ongoing assessment of learning. There are few separate times set aside for assessment because assessment is always taking place.

Hart ( 1994), Johnston ( 1992)

Assessment tasks should involve authentic historical activities.

Hart ( 1994), Wiggins ( 1992)

Perhaps the most important principle to keep in mind in assessing students' historical understanding is that constructive evaluation must be consistent with a constructivist perspective on teaching and learning. People learn new information by linking it to what they already know; their understanding, then, is never a simple reproduction of the information they encounter, but always an interpretation in light of prior understanding. A student's understanding at any given time represents the interaction between external sources of information and her prior knowledge. As a result, no two people's understanding will be identical, nor will a child's understanding be the same as an adult's. Anyone's understanding of history will vary depending on what she brings to her studies; learning about history is not an all-or-nothing process in which you either "know" a topic or you don't, but a lifelong process of schema-building that involves not only a greater quantity of information, but increasingly sophisticated insight into the connections and relationships among concepts. Constructive evaluation seeks to provide teachers and students a picture of how this schema-building process is going, rather than assessing whether students have "caught" discrete pieces of factual information.

Constructive assessment does not focus on the simple reproduction of information.

Historical understanding develops in the interaction between new sources of information and prior experience.


CONCLUSIONS

In this chapter, we have identified the aspects of human learning that we think provide the best guidance for teaching history. Based both on contemporary research in cognitive psychology and on our own experience, we have argued that the best teaching focuses on in-depth understanding of important ideas; builds on what students already know; engages students in collaborative, disciplined inquiry, in which they investigate important questions in authentic ways; involves extensive scaffolding; and is assessed through a process of constructive evaluation. Although we have tried to describe these principles separately, they have little meaning in isolation. Teachers will not succeed if they focus on important ideas but do not build on students'prior knowledge, if they require inquiry but don't teach students how to do it, or if they teach problem solving but never address significant content. By devoting consistent attention to these principles in an integrated way, however, teachers can

-17-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Doing History: Investigating with Children in Elementary and Middle Schools
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 218

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.