Back to School - Telling a Story

Posted by Mary Hendra on August 15, 2019

As LA area schools go back to school, we want to feature the new "Back to School Toolkit" from Facing History. Each day this week, we will showcase one part of the toolkit.

In addition to establishing class norms and culture, the first week of school is a time to show students what the course will be like. I always loved introducing how my class would engage their curiosity and their voice through the activities we did early on. 

Lesson 5 of the Back-to-School Toolkit pulls back the curtain on the work of a historian, inviting students to engage more critically with historical narrative:

  • What does this activity suggest about how historians tell the story of a place, people, time period, or event in the past?
  • What factors can influence how a historian interprets sources and evidence in order to understand history?
  • What challenges do you think historians face when trying to interpret the story of a person, place, or time period from one or more artifacts?
  • What challenges do you think textbook writers and editors face when deciding what histories, stories, and images to include in their publications? How can their choices impact your understanding of history?

These questions seem particularly good for encouraging the critical eye to history. Asking about the work of a historian or textbook writer reminds students that people chose to present history in a particular way, and therefore opens a dialogue about what is not in the book. I love that!

The lesson also engages students in looking directly at primary sources, many visual. One extension activity invites students to create their own time capsule to tell their story, and I wonder if it could be adapted to have students think about the way they already tell their story through the photographs and posts they've made on social media.

BTS Story (1)

See all of our Back to School posts here.

Topics: Back-To-School

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