Barton, Keith C.

Affiliations: 
Indiana University

Magic Words: Writing as a Tool for Learning in the Humanities

"Writing can be a powerful tool for learning in the Humanities. When used well, it helps students clarify their thoughts in a quick, simple way, and it provides teachers with ready insight into how students are making sense of content. Writing is also a natural way to engage students who have a wide range of achievement levels, for it allows different students to participate in the same activity in different ways. Perhaps most importantly, it places control of learning in the hands of students themselves, so that they have a chance to construct their own ideas instead of simply reproducing what they encounter from teachers, texts, or other sources. When used this way, most students write easily and naturally. "

Historical Sources In The Classroom: Purpose and Use

"Historical sources are a common feature of history classrooms, but the purpose of using them is not always clear, and as a result, instructional activities with sources may not be as effective or meaningful as they should be. This lack of clarity stems in part from the fact that there are four distinctly different reasons for using sources, and each carries its own implications for classroom practice. These purposes are 1) illustration and motivation; 2) evidence for historical inquiry; 3) visual or textual interpretation; 4) source analysis. By reflecting on how each of these purposes can play a role in the classroom, which kinds of sources are appropriate for each, and where they fit into an overall sequence of instruction, teachers can ensure that their use of sources deepens and extends students’ historical understanding."

Assessing Historical Discussion

"Discussion can be a valuable element of history classrooms, and assessing participation can provide an important means of improving students’ engagement in this valuable form of communication. Doing so requires that teachers identify the specific skills of historical discussion that they want students to master; teach those skills systematically; and develop practical procedures for collecting information on students’ participation. This article suggests guidelines for teachers to consider in preparing for each of these tasks."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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