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Beyond the Textbook

Teaching History Using Documents and Primary Sources

By David Kobrin

Beyond the Textbook presents nuanced illustrations of what "student historian theory" looks like in action. Included are accounts of actual classroom lessons; discussion topics; sample handouts and primary sources; and excerpts from students' writings.

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    This book is what educators advocating teaching with documents have been waiting for-the research data showing how and why this method works. David Kobrin details the process for using documents in a classroom and proves that kids get hooked into creating history in spite of themselves.

    —Wynell Schamel, Education Specialist, National Archives

Beyond the Textbook is a chronicle of what happened when several "interesting ideas" about teaching and learning history were put to the test in Providence, Rhode Island, public schools. Here, diverse mainstream students used documents and primary sources to actually construct history, acting as historians and drawing their own conclusions about the past.

Instead of offering a single model for teachers to copy, Beyond the Textbook presents nuanced illustrations of what "student historian theory" looks like in action. Included are accounts of actual classroom lessons; discussion topics; sample handouts and primary sources; and excerpts from students' writings. There are also frank recollections of the brainstorming, collaborative teaching, curriculum development, and evaluation that Kobrin and his colleagues did--as well as feedback from their students.

Though Kobrin's case studies reflect the experiences of history and social studies classes in grades seven through twelve, the issues raised will resonate with all educators: How much do textbooks dictate the curriculum? What is needed to involve students in their school work? How are higher-level thinking skills mastered? How do professional teachers continue to develop their skills? Beyond the Textbook does not offer facile, open and-shut answers. Rather, it opens various windows revealing the possibilities.

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