Reflection on “Teaching for Historical Literacy” by Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey

Goudvis, Anne, & Harvey, Stephanie. (2012). Teaching for historical literacy. Educational

Leadership 69(6), 52-57.


Our BC curriculum has made an amazing shift from teaching and learning content to facilitating and understanding student competencies. More importantly, the curriculum promotes teaching skills and strategies to enhance student understanding. Goudvis and Harvey speak about moving from learning to understanding by developing thinking strategies so students are better equipped to understand what they are learning, not just memorize it for the quiz of the week.

Reading through Goudvis and Harvey I could not help but connect with Peter Seixas and Tom Morton’s, “The Big Six; Historical Thinking Concepts.”   These two resources combine to make up what the BC curriculum has for social studies.  Seixas and Morton break down historical thinking into six areas; historical significance, cause and consequence, ethical dimensions of history, historical perspectives, continuity and change, and primary source evidence.

I have found that I am instilling the Big Six throughout my socials lessons, and I have seen a shift in my students understanding of the topics. Through the Big Six and Goudvis and Harvey’s thinking strategies the students have begun to see that socials is not about memorization. It is about their perspectives, their wonders, their inferences, their understanding of sources, and their opinions. They have been given ownership of what they are learning, allowing their questions to guide where we go next.

I myself, am a advocate for cross curricular learning and understanding. I have always used fictional books to help with the learning in socials as well as other areas. The students are given the opportunity to look and or play with the knowledge in different venues. When students are immersed into s topic, they begin to see it across other areas. Many times, I have started a unit in one subject only to find that the students begin to make the connections before I do.

Picture books have a way of bringing it all together for some students, and for engaging others. Collaborating with our school librarians have always benefited student understanding, and it is imperative to utilize the resource. Creating units and lessons that are engaging, empowering, and encourage exploration will help foster empowerment and confidence in student thinking.

Cross curricular planning allows the the students to connect the learning we teachers are are the facilitators providing them with multiple resources, skills, and strategies to help them move from learning to understanding. Making thinking visible strategies are also a key in historical thinking. It allows the students find and try out multiple ways to think about their topic and their own thinking.  If we are able to combine all these ideas and concepts just think how we can make what we teach meaningful.


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