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History Skills

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History Lessons. The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry.

History Lessons

Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features a set of primary documents designed for groups of students with a range of reading skills. This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues and learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence. Why Study History? Civic Online Reasoning. Appendices. Many primary sources are not in written form and trying to describe them in an essay is difficult.


This can often occur when you are referring to a particular building or artefact. In these cases, providing an image of the source is helpful for the reader. Contradiction. When you are analysing a source, it is helpful to compare what information it provides when compared with other sources.


This helps you to more successfully evaluate your sources, especially in regards to their accuracy. In order to identify information that is disagreed upon by two different sources, following these steps: Read the first source and summarise the key points of historical information they provide. Source Creator. The first step in creating an effective analysis of a source is to find out who created it.

Source Creator

While this might sound like a simple thing to do, it can often take significant time to find out all the required information about the creator of a source. When we talk about the 'creator' of a source, we want to know who originally made it. Different kinds of sources usually have a particular kind of creator. For example: Depending upon the type of sources, you need to look in different places to find out who the creator was. Books: usually listed on the front cover Websites: usually listed at the very bottom of an internet page Academic Journals: usually listed on the very first page of the document When recording the name of the creator of your source, try to discover the following information: The creator's full name (first, middle and last names) The creator's career (university professor, soldier, etc.)

Significance. Things are often considered to be important if they do something new, which had never been seen before.


The word ‘novelty’ means “the quality of being new, original, or unusual“. This is often the way that people from the past measured the significance of people and events from their own time. When an event or person was mentioned by the people alive at the time, it usually shows us that they considered them to be particularly remarkable. Comprehension. Comprehension is the easiest of the critical thinking skills.


It simply requires you to read a source and find what is explicit (plainly obvious) regarding what the source is saying. This works best with written documents. To ascertain easily what a source says, it is useful to ask yourself the following questions: Rationale. (37) Out of Context Joffrey Baratheon. Time of Creation. When analysing a source, you need to be aware of when it was made.

Time of Creation

This will not only help you to determine whether it is a primary or secondary source, but it will also help you in your source evaluation. The 'time of creation' is the date when the source was originally made. For some sources, particularly secondary, you can find out the exact year it was published. For primary sources, particularly from the ancient or medieval time period, you may only be able to provide the decade or century when it was created. Therefore, there are different ways you can state when a source was created. The exact year (e.g. Written Essays. The biggest assessment task you will be required to complete is a written research essay which develops an argument and uses a range of sources.

Written Essays

All types of assessment tasks will need you to use essay-writing skills in some form, but their fundamental structure and purpose remains the same. Therefore, learning how to write essays well is central to achieving high marks in History. A History essay is a structured argument that provides historical evidence to substantiate its points. To achieve the correct structure for your argument, it is crucial to understand the separate parts that make up a written essay. If you understand how each part works and fits into the overall essay, you are well on the way to creating a great assessment piece. 1. Key Question. 3. Sub-questions. Once you have become familiar with your topic through your background research, you can begin to think about how to approach answering your Key Inquiry Question.

However, the Key Inquiry Question is usually too broad to answer at this early juncture. Therefore, you need to break your Key Inquiry Question into smaller questions (called 'sub-questions') in order to answer it sufficiently. A good Key Inquiry Question can easily be divided into three separate parts which can be turned into sub-questions. Based upon good background research, you should be able to identify the three divisions of your Key Inquiry Question. Critical Summary. How to Count Centuries in History. Change and Continuity. History is the study of change over time.

Change and Continuity

All sorts of things change over time: empires, languages, ideas, technology, attitudes, etc. Historians study different types of events through time and group these events based upon topics or themes. Breaking historical events up based upon categories makes it easier for people to identify changes and study the effects on people over time. Some general categories of events include: Political - To do with war, power, governments and legal rights Economic - How people earn and spend money Social - The everyday lives of people at work and home Technology - To do with developments in technology and medicine. Teaching repatriation issues — Ancient History School. Photographs. Interpreting a visual source, like a photograph, is very different to interpreting words on a page, which is the case with written sources.


Therefore, you need to develop a different set of skills. Photographs are very useful types of primary sources. They provide a rare glimpse of a particular second in time, which will never again be repeated. This is especially true for events that occurred before the development of television or digital technologies. Many people assume that photographs are unbiased, accurate records of historical events.

If you want to gain a further appreciation of how different photographers can effect what an audience sees in an image, watch the clip below: When people take a photograph, they make decisions about what to show in, or leave out of, the picture. Therefore, to correctly interpret what the photographer intended their audience to understand from their image, we have to identify some specific information. 1. Historical Source Criticism. Essay Exams. Source Evaluation - Usefulness.

Contestability. Contestability is a source evaluation skill which requires you to acknowledge that different historical interpretations can be supported by the surviving evidence. Contestability is the idea that two separate sources can draw different conclusions about a historical person, concept or event. Contestability most commonly occurs between two modern sources, typically academics, who have studied the surviving material in detail, but hold two different interpretations of the past.

The ability for different interpretations is often caused by a lack of surviving primary sources for anyone to know for certain which interpretation is most likely to be correct. On these occasions, the different interpretations are both considered valid until further evidence is found. For example: 8. Draft Writing. Once your topic sentences and hypothesis are completed, you can start writing your essay, beginning with your first draft.

Chronology. The very first step in grasping History is to understand chronology. ‘Chronology’ means the order in time in which events occurred. There are several rules that have been developed over time to achieve this and they are outlined below. Quoting. Political Cartoons. A Guide to Teaching Essay Structure. 6. Topic Sentences. Accuracy. Recommendations. 1. Key Question. Source Analysis - Perspective. Relevance. Time of Creation. Source Creator. Written Essays. Corroboration. 3. Sub-questions. 9. Final Draft. Causes and Consequences. Why Study History - QHTA. History is about change. It is the subject that contributes the most to the broadening out of the imagination. Curriculum Pathways® Writing on History at Queens College. Welcome. Propaganda Posters. Political Cartoons. Purpose.

Solving the history textbook conundrum: a five-point manifesto. Why I Teach Journalism in My History Classes. History in Three Dimensions. The Historian's Hut: Did You Know?: Most Speeches From Ancient History Books Are Fake. The Art of the Paragraph – Robert Peal. Written Essays - History Skills. Propaganda Posters - History Skills. Writing Essays in History. Reading Like A Historian. Working with historians. Assessment - History Skills. 9. Final Draft - History Skills. Causes and Consequences - History Skills. Why Study History? Essay Exams - History Skills. Civilization ("Harajuku Girls" by Gwen Stefani) History Source Skills. Finding Sources - History Skills. Indirect Quotes - History Skills. Perspective - History Skills. Constructive (Source) Criticism - History Skills.

Historical Moments Photographed Just After The Big Event. The Student's Friend World History & Geography. How Young Is History? Historical Thinking Matters: Students. Home.