Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Making Connections with History

The other day we visited the Montezuma’s Castle National Monument and they had a really good display in their interpretive center. There was a huge timeline against the wall to show when the cliff dwelling was developed and when each new stage was built. Above each time segment were listed other events in history that have happened at the same time. This was really effective in helping me put the whole chain of events into a frame of reference. In my mind the cliff dwellings were built during dinosaur times because the word “prehistoric” is used a lot in the descriptions. When I saw the time line, the cliff dwellings were completed at the same time Notre Dame in Paris was completed. That makes me think of a completely different period of time.

Maybe I should have been doing the same thing when teaching events in history to my students. If they don’t have some frame of reference to compare it too, it is hard to imagine when events were happening. Of course, this may add some time to our planning but we should be linking new skills and ideas to previously learned skills and ideas so that students can see a connection. This link helps the students learn new skills as well as retain the new skills. It is funny how this little think really stood out for my husband and since he thinks he was the worse student when he was in school, I really like seeing things from his eyes. After thinking about this I started wondering if I had put this link in my lesson plans. Even though I have a place for “prerequisite skills,” I never really placed as much importance on it as I should have. Now this puts it all in a different perspective and I think I will spend more time thinking about what I will like the new information to and how I will present this.

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