Back to the Classroom: Review those History Skills

Most schools are returning to in-person teaching this fall. Students however, have been out of the classroom for a long time and will definitely need refreshers on the history skills.

I know you’ve got a lot to do. I know that history teachers have one of the toughest jobs because they have SO MUCH content to cover in an academic year. Spending just a little bit of time in the fall, especially at the beginning of the year, will help your students get back into the swing of things.

  1. Chronology

It’s not a hart skill but this is one of those history skills that students may have forgotten. It’s more than just putting dates in order. Chronology is often mixed with timelines and periodization making it a perfect skill to combine. Create a game for the first day of school. Yes, the first day of school. Most teachers will be reviewing classroom procedures. Be the different one and have a game or activity ready.

2. Periodization

This is especially important in European and American history classes. Students should review the periods specific to your class but ask students to organize people, events, and things into each period. Get their brains working immediately and reactivate this history skill at the beginning of the school year.

3. Primary resources

Obviously, working with primary resources is crucial in history class and this is a skill that your students need to review. However, this can definitely wait until the year is in full swing. If you start in the middle or end of August, go ahead and wait until after Labor Day. For my New York state readers, wait two or three weeks and then dive back in.

Students should be reviewing the differences between primary and secondary resources first then working directly with primary resources with your guidance. Don’t assume they will be ready to work with them. Primary resources are, well, weird to work with. Have a practice lesson or two ready before the independent work begins.

4. Continuity and change

Gradual release, gradual release, gradual release. This is an advanced historical thinking skill and requires lots of practice. You should be ready to model, model, model before you expect your students to pick back up on this skill. I suggest modeling this skill for two or three lessons before you begin having students work WITH you for two or three more lessons. Don’t rush it. Independent students need to feel confident with this skill before they can be good at it. Do the work in September and October for an easier winter and spring.

This is going to be a great school year. Set your students up for success. Don’t dwell on any learning loss. Expect that the skills are gone and you are starting from scratch. It may be more work but we are all in this together and that means your students are too. Good luck teacher.

For all kinds of history resources, check out my TpT store.


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