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A book talk with China Harvey and Lisa Herzig

Teaching Beyond the Timeline

Engaging Students in Thematic History

Teaching Beyond the Timeline: Engaging Students in Thematic History is a practical guide for shifting the the way we teach history in the middle and high school classroom. In order for our students to be truly engaged, we need to help them see the relevance of events in the past, moving from simple rote memorization to requiring students to meaningfully connect historical concepts, people, and events using patterns of comparison, causation, and elements of continuity and change over time. Courses organized around central themes also help to ensure inclusive and relevant curriculum for all our diverse students, a challenge that is difficult to overcome with a traditional, chronological approach. 


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Full Description

Return the heart and purpose to the teaching and learning of history. 

Teaching Beyond the Timeline
 is a practical guide for teachers looking to transform history in their classroom. China Harvey and Lisa Herzig share the rationale and research behind shifting to a thematic approach and the essential ingredients for a thematic course, including: 

  • Demonstrating historical relevance and engaging through current events 
  • Centering identity and inclusion 
  • Using an inquiry-based approach 

Using these tools of thematic teaching can help your students develop a deeper understanding of history and see its significance in their own lives. 

Each chapter provides a step-by-step process and the tools for organizing units and lessons around central themes with your students in mind. Sample unit maps, lesson plans, and student work are provided to help you visualize teaching history thematically. Online resources, including downloadable planning forms and teaching tools, give you everything you need to redesign and teach your middle and high school history course. 


"Teaching thematically allows students to make meaning and to draw connections between the past, the present, and the future. Teaching thematically transforms history from something to recall to something to explore with curiosity."  —Sarah-SoonLing Blackburn, Ed.D 

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