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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Engagement in Teaching History: Theory and Practices for Middle and Secondary Teachers by Frederick D. Drake, Lynn R. Nelson (Merrill Prentice Hall) This book offers a wealth of ideas for prospective teachers of history, from the selection of content to methods of instruction and ways to assess pupils' learning. Coverage advocates the use of a systematic approach to improving learners' “historical thinking.” It offers guidelines for involving learners in historical inquiry, teaching toward chronological thinking, encouraging deliberative discussions, and using primary sources/historical documents to ignite pupils' innate “detective” instincts and engage them in solving historical problems. For middle/secondary school science teachers, educators and aids.

Excerpt: This book comprises three parts. In part I, we describe the theoretical background to teaching history. In chapter 1, Teaching History, we deal with the present world situation in teaching history. We suggest a theme of freedom and provide interre­lated questions you can pose to organize your history course. What are the mean­ings of freedom in the United States and in the world? What are the political conditions and social conditions that make freedom possible in the United States and in the world? What are the boundaries of freedom in the United States and in the world and how have they been reduced as well as expanded? Moreover, why is history important for your students? Why is historical inquiry important?

In chapter 2, The History of Teaching History, we describe the history of your profession. When, how, and why did history emerge as a subject for study in schools? We provide an overview of the circumstances that gave rise to the teaching of history in the early American experience, and we examine 20th-century controversies surrounding history and the social studies. Why have history and social studies become contested areas in the curriculum?

In chapter 3, Historical Thinking, we establish an instructional and cognitive framework for your instructional strategies. What is historical`thinking? Why is historical thinking important for all students?

In part II, Planning and Assessment, we emphasize that teaching involves or­ganizing your courses and creating ways to assess what your students learn. In chapter 4, Organizing Your History Courses: Making Content Choices, we discuss chronological and thematic organization for teaching history. How is such organization helpful?

In chapter 5, Lesson and Unit Planning, we offer suggestions for creating both lesson and unit plans in teaching history. How does long-range planning help students learn history? What are the common features of all lesson plans? How are unit plans developed?

In chapter 6, Creating Historical Understanding and Communication through Performance Assessment, we deal with the need to assess your students' knowl­edge, reasoning power, and effective use of communication in the setting of a history classroom. How can assessment go beyond the typical multiple-choice test? How can you create an effective authoritative rubric to share with your students?

In part III, Instruction, we focus on the use of primary sources, discussion, images, and writing in teaching history. In chapter 7, Using Primary Sources: The First-, Second-, and Third-Order Approach, we discuss typologies of primary sources, how to choose primary sources, and how to use an inquiry method in teaching history. Whereas chapter 3 provides a theoretical grounding for the first-, second-, and third-order approach, chapter 7 offers practical illustrations for you to use in the classroom. How can primary sources become an integral part of teaching and learning? How can primary sources be used effectively in teaching?

In chapter 8, Considering and Doing Discussion in History Teaching, we focus on deliberative discussions and the use of first-, second-, and third-order documents. How are deliberative discussions distinguished from other types of classroom discussions? How does the approach we suggest give your teaching an intellectual direction?

In chapter 9, Using Historical Images to Engage Your Students in the Past, we provide three teaching strategies to incorporate photographs and paintings in the teaching of history, among other strategies. How do visuals contribute to the teaching and learning of history? How can you involve students in actively ana­lyzing images (rather than depending on you to do it for them)?

In chapter 10, Using Writing to Engage Your Students in the Past, we describe effective writing assignments related to teaching history. What strategies can you use to encourage writing in the history classroom? How does writing improve knowledge and understanding of historical content?

Our conclusion points to the need for good history teaching in the 21st century. We summarize the importance of history as a subject in the curriculum, the use of primary sources, and the value of deliberative discussion for developing lifelong learners. Above all, we hope that what follows will be useful as you begin your role as a scholar, teacher, and student of history and the social sciences. 

Ideas That Changed the World by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto (DK) Well-illustrated and provocative survey of ideas that have contributed to human culture and history. The illustration provide spark to the subject and eras discussed. One may not agree but it get the imagination working overtime. Authoritative, compelling, and provocative, Ideas That Changed the World presents the big themes in philosophy and history, and reveals how certain ideas have shaped our civilization. One of the most respected historians writing today, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto offers an unashamedly personal analysis on a wide range of ideas -- from the afterlife to taboo foods -- that will keep readers enthralled.

This copiously illustrated book begins more than 30 millennia ago and portrays human history as the product of a series of intellectual and conceptual discoveries. The author shows how our ancestors pulled themselves out of prehistory by realizing that symbols could be used to express ideas; by grasping that what we see is not necessarily what is--by, in short, having the big idea that the world operates according to rules that can be understood. By extending the history of ideas to prehistory (most histories of ideas "start late in the day, with the invention of writing"), Fernandez-Armesto offers a wealth of insights and new ways of looking at human evolution. That's not to say, however, that he doesn't cover more modern ground. Key intellectual moments in the development of science, government, society, and religion are all surveyed in accessible prose and with hundreds of fascinating illustrations. This is obviously not the last word on the history of ideas, but it makes a fascinating place to start.

From Publishers Weekly:
"Ideas are at least as powerful agents for change as material exigencies, economic needs, environmental constraints, and all the other proposed determinants." So writes noted Oxford historian Fernandez-Armesto in this overview of scores of ideas dating back to prehistoric times. The ideas examined are not always soothing or progressive: cannibalism ("typically...human and cultural"); a revival of interest in ancient Egyptian magic during the Renaissance (useful because ultimately "alchemy fed into chemistry, astrology into astronomy"); and anti-Semitism. The book is culturally inclusive: the Zen concept of Mu (the way masters "baffled their pupils into enlightenment") is here, as is jihad. Each idea is examined in a generously illustrated two-page spread, with suggested readings and links to other ideas in the book. This wide-ranging volume offers great browsing and a panoply of ideas for consideration. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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